*Polarized: Making Sense of a Divided America*

James E. Campbell has written an excellent book on this contested and…polarizing…topic.  Here is just one of many good bits:

As they [some commentators] see it, party polarization has been asymmetrical.  The Republican Party allegedly has been captured by right-wing zealots while the Democratic Party has remained a reasonable center-left party.  The claim of asymmetrical party polarization is half-true and completely understandable.  First, there should be no mystery to asymmetry.  If the parties are very competitive, as they are, and the public is skewed to the conservative end of the ideological scale, the parties should be similarly skewed.  In a center-right nation, the right-wing party should be further to the right than the left-wing party is to the left.  If the two parties were equally ideological, the Democrats would be in a permanent minority.  That said, the increased polarization of the parties cannot be entirely attributed to the Republican Party becoming more conservative.  Before the Republicans began moving to the right, Democrats had moved further to the left.  Party polarization followed the staggered nature of the realignment.  In the 1970s, congressional Democrats moved significantly to the left, while there was little change in congressional Republicans.  The Republican shift to the right came later and was augmented by the growth of conservatism in the public.  The polarization of the parties was a two-step dance — maybe three big steps: One big step to the left and two smaller steps to the right.

There is also this:

A five- or ten-percentage-point shift in ideological preferences may seem like “small potatoes,” but a nation that is 40% moderate and 60% ideological (liberal or conservative) operates quite different politically from one that is a 50-50 split.

By the way, it is sometimes noted, or noticed, that left-leaning thinkers have become crazier lately.  I think overall that is true.  It may be a sign that America is switching from a center-right to a center-left nation, given Campbell’s analysis above.

Recommended, due out in June from Princeton University Press.  And here is Timothy Taylor on polarization.


The US shifted to the left after the Great Depression, so it makes sense that it would do the same after the Great Recession.

What caused the shift to the right?

white genocide

I thought Zimbabwe had something to do with it.

400% increase in crime. Same general reason Right-wing parties are now on the ascent in Europe. The silent majority turns out in en masse when they fear chaos on the streets. The 1968 DNC protests won the election for Nixon. If we get a President Trump next January, it probably wouldn't have been possible without Black Lives Matter.


Crime in the streets was a code for race just as Black lives matter is now. If crime were really the reason one would expect high crime cities where people are more effected by crime to be the most conservative.

But race cuts both ways. Where crime affected Black communities, Black communities demanded harsher penalties. America's drug war is disproportionately down to people like Chuck Rangel who, along with a lot of other African American New York Democrats, demanded tough penalties for crack.

The problem is that crime disproportionately hits White communities. So each community is relatively unconcerned about crime affecting the other community and very concerned about crime that affects their own.

The problem is that crime disproportionately hits White communities?

+10 Jan. What is this guy talking about lool

I think he means whites are proportionally victimized by other races more than they victimize other races, crime-wise. That's probably true.

Re: The problem is that crime disproportionately hits White communities.

Not even close.

In 2013 (latest statistics available at: https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_6_murder_race_and_sex_of_vicitm_by_race_and_sex_of_offender_2013.xls ) there were 409 black murderers of white victims versus 189 white murderers of black victims. Black lives matter.

The biggest polarization world-wide is between urban termite types and small town cockroaches. The highly educated termites are invested in a eusocial worldview in which their higher education and prestige appropriates the drone caste to themselves and relegates the rest of the world to worker caste status. Economists are big proponents of this world view. "Gains from trade" is the shibboleth they relentlessly peddle. Every one of them will tell you at the drop of a hat that "specialization" and "comparative advantage" only enrich us. Cockroaches on the other hand, are merely social, and not invested in caste systems. Ask your average small town cockroach if they would trade having self-sufficiency, 40 acres of arable soil, and good water, for all the benefits of big city life and they will look at you like you are crazy. Hopefully in a few short years humans will evolve, like the cockroaches and termites did, into two separate species utterly oblivious to each other.


Look up "non sequitur". It applies to your comment after mine.
The key stat is how common it is the black people become victims of crimes vs how common it is for white people to be victims of crimes. While I cannot seem to find a ready link (Google and its embarrassment of links!), every set of statistics I have ever seen shows that black people are victimized by crime far more frequently than white people are (relative to their percentage of the population). That is, if you are black you are more likely to become a crime victim than if you are white. (And why on earth would the race of the perpetrator matter? A murder victim is no less dead because he was killed by someone whose skin was the same color of his).
In short, the original assertion that whites were more affected by crime than blacks is flat out untrue.

They moved. Duh.

Joan, you do realize people move around the city during the course of the day, don't you?

I live in Baltimore. I used to work in the city, I still do a lot of shopping there, I go to church there and I do a fair amount of socializing there. Yet I generally do not go into the problem areas of the city-- and everyone local knows what areas those are. Last month was the first time I went up to Mondawin (where the riots began last year) in over a year (there's a Target up there and it was easier to go to that one, given my other errands, then to go across town to the newer Canton Target)
You can live, work, etc. in a city with a high crime rate and still be little affected by crime.

If I have fled from area A to area B because of crime in area A, I am going to do my damnedest to make sure it doesn't become a problem in area B.

Crime isn't like trash on the street. If you sweep up the trash, it's gone. Crime gets set into a community, and once crime becomes common enough that it exceeds the police's ability to reliably catch the criminals, you've passed a tipping point that is extremely difficult to come back from.

Are you sure that wasn't just a 400% increase in things defined as crimes? Or a 400% increase in the number of fist fights and wife beaters charged whereas previously such things were written off as "boys will be boys" and tolerance to wife beating, etc?

Was there actually an increase in the number of people suffering at the hands of criminals? I mean, the other day the Canadian Prime Minister backed into someone and ended up coming into contact with a desk as a result. Opposition MPs are crying "assault" and the "traumatized" woman who got backed into was unable to stay for the next vote. In such a world, it's hard to believe that there is actually more violent crime than in the days when it was legal to beat your wife and fist fights were a common past time at/outside the bar.

If only there were a metric not susceptible to interpretation like......say.....murder rates. Bodies are bodies. They are hard to hide, and death is not disputable. These show a strong increase in the murder rate starting in the late '60s, peaking in 1980, and staying high until about '94, then beginning a long, slow slide continuing until today, where we are back to where we were in about 1950.

The only confound is that medical technology saves a lot more shooting/stabbing/bludgeoning victims that might have died sixty years ago. So our violent crime rate is probably still significantly higher than in the '50s, but if we must stick to incontrovertible crimes, that is the metric.

Which coincides with the war on drugs, and the high-profit turf wars associated with it, no?

Which is an altogether different question than what is defined as "violent crime". I'm most especially reacting to the claim of a 400% increase. I think it is good that violent crime is more likely to be reported, policed, prosecuted, etc., than in the past. But I'm deeply skeptical that there are actually more victims per 100,000 for this class of offenses. Most especially once you exclude gang-related violence which I believe is almost entirely a result of the war on drugs.

Also, if you put up traffic light cameras, would a 400% increase in red light violations suggest that the number of red lights run would have actually increased?

in 1957, the US homicide rate hit the low of 4.0 per 100,000. By 1980, it hit 10.2, a 250% increase. The increase started well before the drug war, as Nixon didn't start until 1969. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/h/humfig/11217607.0002.206/--decivilization-in-the-1960s?rgn=main;view=fulltext

The increase in violent crime coincides with the Baby Boom generation entering its most crime prone years. And the fall coincides with that generation leaving that stage of life well behind. No, that isn't the whole story, but it plays a major role.

This chart conveniently leaves off the last 10 years where UCR violent crime has... fallen to levels not seen since 1970.

Source: http://www.ucrdatatool.gov/Search/Crime/State/StateCrime.cfm

Even more fun with crime statistics: Find the states where crime has fallen the most!

Is it the ones that most aggressivly fake their data?



What shift to the right? Republican party identification is at a low, 25%.

Surely if Republicans were winning hearts and minds their ranks would swell, rather than suffer the strong downtrend they have since '04.

Note that independents have grown since then, reinforcing the idea that neither party serves a majority.

chart of party identification, 1988 to 2015

Sorry, they don't allow direct links to charts. Data link below.

True, but Republicans have been winning at the ballot box pretty consistently.

I think voting actually ends up pretty evenly split, as it should in the final push towards the ballot. Party "control" is not always a strong indicator of majority, especially when it flips as often as it does.

And of course "The impact of partisan gerrymandering can be significant, leading to a majority-vote party in a state (Democrats) obtaining minority status in the legislature in both North Carolina and Pennsylvania in 2012."

Only in elections where voter turnout is unusually low, and where gerrymandering plays a role in creating artificial majorities.

There might be a bit of an effect in the rural bias of legislatures. If city slickers are under represented, Democrats will be under represented.

"While conventional wisdom holds that partisan bias in U.S. legislative elections results from intentional partisan and racial gerrymandering, we demonstrate that substantial bias can also emerge from patterns of human geography. We show that in many states, Democrats are inefficiently concentrated in large cities and smaller industrial agglomerations such that they can expect to win fewer than 50% of the seats when they win 50% of the votes."

Unintentional Gerrymandering: Political Geography and Electoral Bias in Legislatures, 2013

I am not convinced that the Republicans have moved to the Right. Rather the Democrats moved to the Left in the 70s. And so did the Republicans. Then the Democrats moved further to the Left after Reagan. But the Republicans did not.

The Republican manifesto going into the last election was much the same as it was when Reagan was elected. Which in turn wasn't that different from Eisenhower. Nixon was the exception. Meanwhile the Democrats removed any reference to God and wanted to move the American embassy from Jerusalem.

Yes, by any sane metric the US, and most every other Western country has moved far to the left. Imagine if the Romney-Obama election had occurred in 1900. Or even 1960. Do you seriously think Obama would win even a single state?

By which metric?

Marginal tax rates are down. In Europe, there is no longer free university in most countries. Labour codes have been loosened to ease hiring and firing (and technological innovation has taken this even further). Union membership is at historical lows. The number of procedures where non-universal access is allowed has expanded. Charter schools are forging into education markets previously reserved for public sector employees. Accounting for inflation, real minimum wages are in most places lower than they were 50 years ago. Inequality is among the highest levels in the post-WWII era in most Western countries. The number of loopholes allowing deep pockets to influence elections has proliferated (US case).

Unless you see gay marriage or openly admitting that trannies use whatever bathroom they want as a left/right issues, I'm not sure which metrics you're thinking of. The government share of GDP has risen somewhat (not "far to the left"), but isn't this more a function of people living longer and expanded medical technologies than a leftward shift? I dunno ... maybe I'm missing something here.

So, if you believe blacks were not defined by God to be slaves, you are a leftist?

Believing a man born of a white US citizen from Kansas can be president makes you a radical leftist if his father was from Africa?

What else changed in the 60s for you to define 1970 as the point when everyone became leftists?

"Meanwhile the Democrats removed any reference to God and wanted to move the American embassy from Jerusalem."

The American embassy is not and never was in Jerusalem (and all former presidents of both parties were in favor of maintaining the embassy in Tel Aviv)

Ha. That was a bizarre comment. Trump is saying we will put the embassy in Jerusalem. Maybe he was getting mixed up.

I say who gives damn? Tel Aviv is a better city and there is a consulate in Jerusalem anyway.

The left may have moved more to the left than the right did to the right at some points in the past. But that doesn't change the fact that the shift to the right by Republicans has been faster and more extreme than any movement by the left in recent recent years. You can't seriously argue that the right hasn't moved further right in a period when you have seen almost all of the moderate Republicans in Congress basically escorted out of office by more extreme right wingers. They didn't leave (or get defeated) because they suddenly wanted to become liberals.

The Republican Party has become an insurgent outlier -- ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.


I don't accept that. Some Republicans moved to the Left in the Seventies. The Republican base decided it did not like that. It is not as if moderate abortion-supporting, higher-tax-supporting, Republicans are not welcome - Trump for instance is likely to be the next candidate.

In the meantime how many Dixiecrats are left?

There are no Dixiecrats, they are all republicans now.

"There are no Dixiecrats, they are all dead or in nursing homes."

Its been nearly 50 years since Wallace ran. A Dixiecrat would be mid-70s at best, most are dead.

Southern GOP voters are not Dixiecrats.

Could you tell me what "the right" is so I can figure out if anyone has "moved" there.

May be this . When its OK to be unconstitutional.

Depends what you mean by unconstitutional. It's in violation of the Supreme Court's interpretation of the constitution. On the other hand, just about every state used to have laws against performing abortion. Just about everyone used to believe that such laws were just. Certainly, just about everyone who considered themselves on the "right" believed such laws were just.

So what exactly are you saying is "right"?

If its being against abortion, clearly the country has shifted in the opposite direction more or less across the spectrum.

If right is willingness to disobey the Supreme court a) thats a weird definition. Also, I doubt many people consider the personal liberty laws of the 1850s to be "right". b) its not obvious that there is an increased willingness to ignore the Supreme court compared to times in the past.

So, Obama is the right as he is often doing unconstitutional actions.

I disagree. Goldwater represented a break to the right that was fulfilled by Reagan. Recall GHWB's quip about 'voodoo economics'- he represented Republican orthodoxy going back to Ike.

OK, outside of economics, most everything continues to slide left. But it's the economy, stupid.

What is "right" in economics? Laissez-faire? For most of the past 250 years this was associated with the "left"?

I am talking about the American political environment since circa 1900 or so. You are correct that Hitler and Mussolini attacked laissez faire from the right, but that is beside the point.

It's not beside the point. What the hell is "right"? How do we know if somebody is moving "right" without defining it. I'm not talking about Hitler either. Laissez-faire has been considered "left" for most of the time that "left" and "right" have been used in the modern sense.

Nobody ever considered John Stewart Mill, the Locofocos, Thoreau, or Henry George "right wing". So what does it mean. America moves away from Hamilton's system of protection national infrastructure building toward "economic liberalism" and we say it moved "left". America increases governments role in investment and allocation of resources, we say it moved "left". Promoting "economic liberalism" is then "right". But now I here that economic nationalism and attempts to restrain trade in favor of labor is "right". Seriously, what are right and left? If we simply change the meaning, then the question of whether we are "moving right" or "moving left" can't be answered.

OK, the repeal of the Corn Laws was a leftward movement toward laissez faire. That was in 1846, 170 years ago. Point conceded.

Please supply any subsequent movements toward laissez faire that you would characterize as leftward.

Sheesh. Pedantic semantics.

You are missing the point. What are left and right they we can compare across different eras. IE exactly what we are trying to do.

BTW, open borders.

No, you are missing the point. You don't need to anchor points as "absolute left" or "absolute right" to understand in what direction you are moving.

Brian, so the leader of a National Socialist party is on the right now?

We moved left on (some) social issues. However we moved right on many economic issues.

Reagan couldn't win a primary today. The party moved right.

Time for some popcorn and to sit back and watch. I have my suspicions that you are trolling for pageviews Tyler. Well done sir. Well done.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that the comments were over 100 when I looked. The quality and identity of the commenters also didn't surprise me.

The rise of the SJWs and identity politics on the left.

He said SJWs. Drink!!

What the hell's an SJW?
Slow Jewish Whites?
Socialist Jaw Waggers?

Social Justice Warriors - i.e. truculent campus blowhards.

Ah, TCB's. Then why didn't he say so?

People who will virulently attack even a pro-opportunity feminist multiculturalist who had no shame to look history in the face, a) for failing to adhere to the victim narrative where white men are responsible for all evils in the world, b) where men are pre-guilty of rape on the flimsiest of accusations even if the courts ultimately say otherwise, and c) where even the remotest hint that people take individual or community responsibility for their situation, even when asking "what can we do so you can fix your own problems and move past all this crap?"

That's my view. There are also those who see SJWs as anyone who so much as mentions the existence of racism, ongoing challenges in women's rights, or who are in any way critical of people who do not want public support for the vulnerable or unlucky. Those people, I think are basically just as much blow hards as the SJWs.

Silly Jehovah Witness? Sad Juvenile Witch?

What's the argument that a rightward shift has occurred? Just recently we've gotten legalized gay marriage, significant progress towards marijuana legalization, the ACA, non-defense spending as a percentage of GDP higher than any time prior to 2009 and the Democrats demanding still more, the highest top marginal tax rates since the early 80s, the Democrats moving significantly leftward on crime, a push for a $15 minimum wage (which would be by far the world's highest in PPP terms), near uniformity on abortion in the Democratic Party, support for transgender rights, greater acceptance of irreligiosity, and more.

Many things that would have been considered radical just twenty years ago are now practically litmus tests. From where I'm sitting, the idea that the Democrats have not moved left just appears delusional, or at best based on a handful of cherry-picked issues. Am I wrong here?

No, you're not wrong. On economic questions, the range of discussion has not moved around much in 35 years. With regard to education and crime, there has been a cage match between politicians responding to popular opinion on the one hand and the usual collection of cadres on the other. On cultural questions, you've had a relentless assault by the cadres to which the politicians have responded ineffectually.

One of the regulars here remarked that liberals value people in proportion to the disruption they cause in society. You'll notice the chaps at Ordinary Times have been having an animated discussion about an adolescent dyke making a nuisance of herself to the administration of one particular Catholic school. They carry on such discussions betwixt and between complaining that too many thugs are in prison.

Im sure ill regret this, but do you have a link for said discussion?

I believe he is referring to this:

Right-left? It's all theater. Both parties are "the government", just two blocs competing for the spoils. Ideology is part of the entertainment that allows the hoi polloi to think that there's an actual choice. The great, gray bureaucracy runs the country.

No, the legal profession runs the country.

Maybe the government, but not the country. This distinction is almost always obscured for some reason.

You're absolutely right. The thing is, the position they do have allows them to run shake-downs of everyone else and everyone else's behavior is influenced by the possibility of lawyers' predation.

Or it could be that with increased Federal power combined with both sides increasingly hostile response to local control in matters where they are prevailing means that the national stakes are higher. The right wants guns in Liberal cities, the left wants to force rural conservatives to allow men in women's restrooms.

This is almost certainly exacerbated by geographic ideological divisions where whole blocks of voters have become almost completely alien to each other and have started to ideologically oppose the economic underpinnings of their respective others.

My genuine fear is that this will either stop or lead to civil war. And moderation won't help if it seeks to impose its "moderation" on everyone without distinction.

The only solution is, and ever was, freedom - for me AND thee.

The realignment of politics in the Solid South, from Dixiecrat to all-white Republican, since the 1960s, as the result of the conscious effort of the Republican Party (the "Southern Strategy"), moved the Democratic Party to the left only in the sense that the Party lost its segregationist wing. Campbell's ahistoric telling ignores the greatest political realignment since the Civil War. Trumpism takes it one step farther, mining white grievances and fear and anger beyond the South, fueled by globalization and the erosion of the white middle class and an America that is becoming less white. I appreciate that conservatives and libertarians would prefer to see their party as something other than the White Southern Party writ large, but that's reality. Get over it or do something about it.

This is absurd. The Democrats have moved further to the Left than just getting rid of the Dixiecrats would suggest. John F. Kennedy could not stand for election for the Democrats these days. Too much of a Cold War warrior.

It is not true that the Republicans are becoming a White Southern Party writ large. They are becoming the party of White taxpayers. The Democrats have chosen to embrace Blacks - which meant they had to drive the Southern racists out. They have chosen to embrace single Mothers. That means that married Whites have been moving over to the Republicans. Leaving the Democrats as a party of Takers. Blacks are their best voters. Single mothers the second strongest voters for Obama. They are doing well in winning over Asians and Hispanics. We are seeing the Reagan Dems finally abandoning the Democrats. Soon the only White community that will remain with the Democrats, apart from the single mothers, will be the Jewish community.

What can the Republicans do about it? They cannot bid for the loyalty of single mothers. But they should make it financially punishing to become a single mother. They cannot bid for the loyalty of African Americans. The only people who can end racial politics are the Democrats as they are the only people who play that way.

I work in a predominantly African American city and in a predominantly African American workplace. I interact with large numbers of African American makers.

In the past I have also lived and worked in Appalachia and observed and interacted with many white takers.

Its about class and ethics.

I should have also asked how the democrats are appealing to that yuge swath of Asian takers.

Re: John F. Kennedy could not stand for election for the Democrats these days.

And Ronald Reagan would be rejected as a RINO today if he ran on his gubernatorial and presidential record.

Re: . Leaving the Democrats as a party of Takers.

Thanks for calling me a "Taker". That five figure sum on my 1040 I paid to the feds alone last year must be a hallucination.

I would suggest that public worker union members are their best voters. Much higher turnout percentage.

Ray - From Tip O'Neill to Nancy Pelosi.

Dixiecrats were standard New Deal in their economics. They were reactionary [not conservative] only in racial terms.

I think you can make the argument, purely based on party identification.

If more people identity as independent than ever before, that is a sign that the two parties are less inclusive than ever before.

If one party has fallen further in identification, that is a sign it has become more extreme than the other.

The big reveal

And based on thatDemocrats, are currently more appealing.

Looking at the charts, it was the sixties that were good for Democrats not the seventies. That makes sense when you think about it.

Those left wingers

They so crazy

I have no idea what you guys are talking about. The main difference between republicans and democrats is the parfum. It is just an illusion/political theater. Democracy my ass.

Why does the American Left, with its bleating about reparations for blacks, never suggest reparations for Polynesians (give 'em back Hawaii), Spaniards (Florida), Mexicans (the SW USA)? And then there's the tricky business of the Indigenous Americans.

I know! Because it's not a matter of principle but of vote-buying; that must be it.

Can you name more than 1 single person that more than 1% of the population has heard of (perhaps excluding music and film) that is "bleating" about reparations for blacks? I am aware of the existence of such a view, but nothing more.

Ta-nehisi Coates.


Found some articles though. Interesting perspective. In an era where property rights and personal responsibility are prioritized, it's hard to imagine that anyone would object to the notion that living people who experienced major losses and can identify who, when, where, what, etc., of their losses should have their cases considered. The notion of paying reparations for wrongs done 200 years ago is not one that I think should be taken very seriously though, no matter that I endorse their right and willingness to make the case for it.

How many years ago could you say the same thing about gay marriage and tranny bathrooms. Slippery slope blah blah blah

It is not a serious policy proposal except in diarieme's fantasy land, aka his/her facebook feed. He/She probably saw a meme.

The number of Spaniards in Florida when we took over was absurdly low: a few hundred, mostly the garrison at St Augustine and their support personnel. Florida was never anything but a naval base and strategic checkpoint for Spain.

Imagine that in 1985 the Soviets had somehow smuggled a nuclear weapon into the basement of the US Capitol and used it to effect the surrender of the federal government. No member of the federal bureaucracy would have missed a day of work, they, and their elected officials, would have simply continued working for the new bosses, probably with little grumbling as long as the paychecks kept coming and the NFL schedule remained intact.

This guy missed George Wallace and the Nixon strategy for capturing the South, Spiro Agnew and the nattering nabobs of negativism. His statement that there was little change in Republican's during this period is just humorous, given the very blatant racial appeal Nixon made to capture the South.

As Spiro Agnew said of intellectuals, and perhaps this book author is one, "An intellectual is a man who doesn't know how to park a bike."

Never trust anyone who believes in centre-right or centre-left nations. No true statistician would believe in such things. He would find a center and then describe how groups relate to it.

So I think I take your point, that Tyler and the original author are being a bit subjective in their view.

I think the old NBC-Esquire survey is less subjective, more bottom up, more statistically valid.

Don't say they didn't warn you:

" The new American center has a socially progressive streak, supporting gay marriage (64 percent), the right to an abortion for any reason within the first trimester (63 percent), and legalized marijuana (52 percent). Women, workers and the marginal would also benefit if the center had its way, supporting paid sick leave (62 percent); paid maternity leave (70 percent); tax-subsidized childcare to help women return to work (57 percent); and a federal minimum wage hike to no less than $10 per hour (67 percent)."

Venezuela? Bolivia?

I think you're making a good point, but I think it can also be relevant to consider whether one nation is generally more left/right than another. Surely, the Bolivarian right is left of the American left, and such constructs can be of some use.

However, I find that the reasoning for such labels are rarely specified.

I don't think that people who say center-right are thinking on a global scale.

It is just a painful innumeracy.

This guy missed George Wallace and the Nixon strategy for capturing the South, -

The South fell into the Republican Party's lap. When segregation was no longer on the table, the inclination to elect Bourbon and populist Democrats to defend it in Congress was pointless. In any case, Democratic pols quickly abandoned any residually segregationist constituency after 1970. So, voters in the South cast ballots on other issues. The Civil War was a century over and the tribal aversion to the Republican Party was also dissipating (see Eisenhower's performance in 1952 for an example of this). Nixon's 'strategy' consisted of hiring Roy Acuff to sing ditties in campaign commercials and having Strom Thurmond go on speaking tours promoting familiar Republican themes. For four decades, partisan Democrats have been treating Roy Acuff and the Thurmond Speaks Committee as if they were some cross between Machiavelli and the Nazi Party, because partisan Democrats cannot seem to get off the spectrum which runs between stupid and malicious.


This is the Wikipedia entry describing Nixon's southern strategy and race:

"In American politics, the Southern strategy refers to a strategy by Republican Party candidates of gaining political support in the Southern United States by appealing to disaffected white southerners, many of whom were originally Democratic voters.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the African-American Civil Rights Movement achieved significant progress in its push for desegregation in the Southern United States. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, in particular, largely dismantled the system of Jim Crow laws that had enforced legal (or de jure) segregation in the South since the end of the Reconstruction Era. During this period, Republican politicians such as Presidential candidate Richard Nixon worked to attract southern white conservative voters, most of whom had traditionally supported the Democratic Party, to the Republican Party,[1] and Senator Barry Goldwater won the five formerly Confederate states of the Deep South (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina) in the 1964 presidential election. In the 1968 presidential campaign, Nixon won Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee, all former Confederate states, contributing to the electoral realignment that saw many white, southern voters shift allegiance from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party during this period.

In academia, the term "southern strategy" refers primarily to "top down" narratives of the political realignment of the south, which suggest that Republican leaders consciously appealed to many white southerners' racial resentments in order to gain their support.[2] This top-down narrative of the southern strategy is generally believed to be the primary force that transformed southern politics following the civil rights era.[3][4] This view has been questioned by historians such as Matthew Lassiter, Kevin M. Kruse and Joseph Crespino, who have presented an alternative, "bottom up" narrative, which Lassiter has called the "suburban strategy." This narrative recognizes the centrality of racial backlash to the political realignment of the South,[5] but suggests that this backlash took the form of a defense of de facto segregation in the suburbs, rather than overt resistance to racial integration, and that the story of this backlash is a national, rather than a strictly southern one.[6][7][8][9]

The perception that the Republican Party had served as the "vehicle of white supremacy in the South," particularly during the Goldwater campaign and the presidential elections of 1968 and 1972, has made it difficult for the Republican Party to win the support of black voters in the South in later years.[1] In 2005, Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman formally apologized to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a national civil rights organization, for exploiting racial polarization to win elections and ignoring the black vote.[10][11]"

Okay. You are copy-pasting from Wikipedia, which proves nothing. The Southern Strategy myth is bologna. Look at the election results in 1964. Look at the election results in 1968 and 1972. Nixon did not pursue a "Southern Strategy." He flipped the ENTIRE NATION Red. He didn't even WIN the South in the 68. If you go all the way back to 1960, which Nixon lost, you can see Nixon lost NJ, MO, and IL, which he all won in 1968, and alone accounts for 56 electoral votes, or 68% of his improvement. Are New Jersey and Illinois SOUTHERN states?

Acuff and Thurmond "some cross between Machiavelli and the Nazi Party"? Seems fairly accurate.

given the very blatant racial appeal Nixon made to capture the South.

Nixon made no racial appeals of any kind in 1968 or at any other time in his 24 years in public life. Partisan Democrats have been promoting this meme for nearly five decades not realizing it had no reality outside their mold infested heads.

That's not really an example, because they were tapes of his private conversations. I'm sure you might be surprised by Hillary too, if you got her in a padded room and convinced her to spill the beans on her favored demographic.

And you might argue Nixon was proven right in the end about the Great Society programs, if not for the reasons he quoted.

How does this invalidate what Art said?

I take it you noticed he offers nothing but secondary sources which recycle the same glosses he was recycling, as well as secondary sources which purport to recount rude things Nixon said in private conversation (which is not an 'open appeal').

If Bill had an ounce of integrity, he would not be throwing chaff in everyone's face. Samples of Mr. Nixon's actual campaign commercials are here.


There are no racial appeals at all. Descriptions of other commercials can be found in Joe McGinnis' The Selling of the President, 1968. McGinnes despised everyone around Nixon, but the book was composed before the lying memes Bill is recycling gained any currency.

Art, Re secondary sources claim.

??? The source cites and links to interviews of people after the event.

I've got more and I will give you one more:

Here is another one: The Obituary of Harry Dent in the Washington Post

"When President Lyndon B. Johnson championed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, some Republican strategists saw a potential bonanza in the South. They thought their party could reap the votes of white people uneasy with Democrats, or downright hostile to them, for advancing the cause of black people.

Mr. Thurmond became a Republican and campaigned for his new party’s presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater, in 1964. Goldwater was beaten overwhelmingly by Johnson, but he did carry five states in the Deep South. He had campaigned in part on “states’ rights,” and he had voted against civil rights legislation, facts not lost on vote-counters in either party.

Four years later, Mr. Thurmond helped hold much of the region for Nixon by reassuring Southerners that, as president, he would not be too aggressive on civil rights issues. George C. Wallace of Alabama won five states in the Deep South, but Nixon’s strength elsewhere in the region was crucial to his narrow victory over Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey.

Mr. Dent has been described as having helped articulate the Southern strategy. Its detractors call it racism cloaked in code words like “law and order.” Its advocates call it a legitimate appeal to people left on the sidelines while other groups benefit from affirmative action and government aid programs.

In any event, the strategy was credited with the Nixon victory, and Mr. Dent was rewarded with a post as special counsel and political strategist to the new president. Mr. Dent worked in the White House for four years, also finding time to work on the image of his old boss Mr. Thurmond....

Reflecting on his new mission in life, Mr. Dent acknowledged in a 1981 interview with The Washington Post that he had regrets.

“When I look back, my biggest regret now is anything I did that stood in the way of the rights of black people,” he said. “Or any people.”


Don't waste your time.

Art Deco is not a rational debater. Any evidence, regardless of its accuracy or pedigree, that contradicts his viewpoint he will ignore outright.

He's a reactionary, partisan troll with a thesaurus and a JSTOR account. That's it.

Didn't LBJ acknowledge when signing the Civil Rights Act that the Democrats would lose the South for a generation?

Willem of Occam perceives that your Nixon story is superfluous.

Why wouldn't the two dovetail? The Democrats pass the Civil Rights Act knowing it will come at a political cost, the Republicans say "hot dog!"

Extra Credit Question: Which party today thinks it is a vote-getter to say that you want to repeal the Civil Rights Act?

1. Your comment suggests you don't understand how Occam's razor works.

2. More Republicans voted for the civil rights act than Democrats.

In your brief comment, you manage to misunderstand both conceptually and factually. Impressive.

Which party? Neither.

You simply must stop deluding yourself that you're a moderate.

Man, you guys just love Wikipedia quotes so that you can ignore them, am I right?

"The bill was called for by President John F. Kennedy in his civil rights speech of June 11, 1963,[7] in which he asked for legislation "giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public—hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments", as well as "greater protection for the right to vote". Kennedy delivered this speech following a series of protests from the African-American community, the most notable being the Birmingham campaign (sometimes referred to as the "Children's Crusade") in which students and children endured attacks by police dogs and high pressure fire hoses during their protests against segregation."

The whole thing does not support the idea that "voting for" is a better measure than "Democrats passed"


There is your historic rift, right there:

"When the bill came before the full Senate for debate on March 30, 1964, the "Southern Bloc" of 18 southern Democratic Senators and one Republican Senator led by Richard Russell (D-GA) launched a filibuster to prevent its passage.[14] Said Russell: "We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) states."[15]"

And that was the opportunity that Republican operatives were not stupid enough to pass up in the 70s.

Obviously, the Rs don't think that is a vote getter, which is why they never say it. It seems to me that they would have found it more a vote getter in the past. Probably it would have been more of a vote-getter *before* Nixon. No?

Rand Paul, 2012. Pat Buchanan, 2014. The Texas GOP Platform, 2014, all call for repeal.

I didn't realize President Buchanan had said that. No wonder he won by such a landslide!

At least I did name candidates. There were random crazy guys, like a Fox news commentator calling for it was well.

When Presidential Candidates call for a thing, it must be based on the idea that it will find resonance, at least in their own party. Am I right?

But these are fringe candidates. They aren't trying to maximize the number of votes they receive. They either want to make a point or to steal a non-zero number of votes away from a major candidate so that they at least poll *something*. Nobody is saying that their are zero supporters of repeal (which needn't be based on racial solidarity in any case. Ron Paul supporters for example have weird principles, but they are voting based on principle.) but it isn't a vote winner for the R party's platform.

Yes, Paul and Buchanan are pretty fringe, especially when considered against the whole population. The Texas GOP is pretty fringe by the same measure. But neither are they random shock-jocks.

In 1976, Jimmy Carter was elected, winning almost all the Southern States except VA and OK. He also lost IL and NJ, which are also Southern States according to the logic "Nixon flipped Southern States in 1968." But I think that's bad logic.

"the growth of conservatism in the public"

That seems problematic. Which public? The leftier candidate has received more votes in 5 of the last 6 national elections, when many more people vote. In off year (and especially off off year) elections, where significantly fewer people vote, the more conservative candidates have done consistently better over the same time frame (especially at the congressional district and state district level as opposed to statewide). These offyear election wins have allowed conservatives in statehouses to partially institutionalize their advantage through redistricting.

This doesn't show so much a center-right public (or center-left public when the dynamic was reversed for decades), but a period in which the center-right voting wing in more motivated, because it is the conservatives who seek the most change from the status quo (ironically). The more success that the conservatives have (including at the state/local level and in the courts), the more likely that that success will motivate progressive voters to show up at the polls more consistently, thereby changing the dynamic. The dynamic changes more than the "public" does.

Re: Your comment "left leaning thinkers have become crazier lately."

One could say

Right wing crackpots remain the same.

I think the point is that both may be true.

Anyone can pick an actual crazy person on the other side to act as a sort of straw man where whole group.

Especially easy when the crazy person is a Presidential nominee.

A five- or ten-percentage-point shift in ideological preferences may seem like “small potatoes,” but a nation that is 40% moderate and 60% ideological (liberal or conservative) operates quite different politically from one that is a 50-50 split. - See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/05/polarized-making-sense-of-a-divided-america.html#comments

Would be interesting to hear more about this claim. My intuition says, given voter turn out, and that voters tend to be in the ideological group (and the representatives elected certainly are) whether the society is 50-50 or 40-60 is much less likely to make any different in the resulting policies and laws enacted. The impact comes the distribution within the ideological portion; though I'm not sure if a 50-50 lib-con split produces the worst ourcome or not.

Slate Star Codex has one of the best writings about this tribalism - yes, it's long, yes it's good


" The herd is evil-smelling but it provides warmth." (Robert Ardrey)

I dont think America has shifted to the right, but rather a group of people who didnt turn out to vote to passionately have now taken to the ballot box in great numbers in some places. Those who really hate abortion and have a strong belief in God have figured out that they are, in fact, the majority in a number of states.

Bill your point is bunk- LBJ said equally vile things about Blacks in private as did Nixon. Both were unusual politicians by today's standards since both parties were less ideologically uniform than today. The new deal coalition was bound to fall apart b/c it was held together by dividing the swag- but there is never enough to go around so infighting will eventually occur.

In the 1960s, many, many people said racist things in private. Especially people born in the 1910s as were LBJ and Nixon.

It's one thing to say racist things, and it is another to do them or to solicit those who are racists to support you using code words such as "I'm for states rights" and "I'm against forced bussing".

Forced busing, and Bus Riots, taking place in the lovely Southern city of Boston, Massachusetts.

Because there are no racists in Boston.

This is an interesting example of how terms are captured by politicians.

So, let's take the term "forced busing"

Now, let's take it a different way: A district court finds that there was intentional segregation and orders the school to be desegregated.

You see how terms fool you, and how easily people get fooled and distracted.

If a criminal violates a law and is ordered to prison, there is forced imprisonment; if a company puts a poison in the waterway there is forced remediation to stop the pollution; if a merger is illegal and a court orders a spin-off or dissolution, there is a forced spinoff or dissolution.

What preceded the force was a court hearing, opportunities to present evidence by both sides and a court order.

and we know no judge would place his personal opinion above the constitution

Most Black families hated busing as well. I suppose they hate black people too.

Democrats are party of control and slavery. Crony capitalists trying to destroy small businesses. Spreading hate for religion, 2nd amendment, businesses, free speech, United States of America,..... The beat goes on. GD America...

Late to this, but I'm amused by the surfeit of comments expressing individual commenter's perceptions about polarization on a post that links to a discussion of how people systematically mis-perceive the level of polarization.

The two poles which seem to be emerging are Globalism versus Nationalism, or perhaps the State versus the Nation.

Ideologically, the 90s libertarians are winning. Married gay men carrying concealed weapons and a Linux box in their pocket are now commonplace. Soon they'll even be puffing a joint legally in most of the country. Increased taxes on the middle class is politically impossible.

The parties have changed though. Each party tries to find the cheapest 51% of voters to support them. The rise of single motherhood has created an enormous monolithic Democratic voting bloc. Affirmative action plus declining blue collar wages has created an enormous Republican bloc.

The professionals defected from the Republican Party in 2008. Northeastern working-class whites are likely to defect from the Democratic Party in 2016. There's a good chance that young white men will defect as well, given the current climate on college campuses.

The question for the Republicans is can they attract enough defector to cover for their shrinking demographics.

The question for the Democrats is can they prevent enough defections to allow their increasing demographics to win.

"Affirmative action plus declining blue collar wages has created an enormous Republican bloc."

Yet there is little evidence that Republicans are picking up votes from the lower end of the income distribution. See Nate Silver's analysis, for instance. People throw around the terms "blue collar" and "working class" without ever defining exactly what they mean by them and this results in confused discussion about where each party actually gets its votes. It is also important to keep in mind that mid-term election results and the nomination of Donald Trump are driven by a relatively small number of voters. Taking these phenomena as evidence of an "enormous" bloc of disaffected white voters involves a leap in logic.

Any study that attempts to quantitatively compare fuzzily defined terms like "moderate," "liberal," "conservative," or whatever is going to meet with a lot of suspicion from me. Because those terms cover such a broad umbrella of policy goals and preferences, it's almost nonsensical. People may drift "right" on sentencing laws and still want universal healthcare. The agglomeration of political coalitions (parties) doesn't reflect the actual preferencial policy mix for people on the ground.

I would suspect the public is well to the "right" of the American left on social issues and well to the "left" of the American right on economic ones.

Prior to the 1960's the South was 100% Democrat. The KKK, the racists, the lynching, everything, was 100% Democrat. The tide turned in the 60's, the Republicans got the civil rights bill passed and the South began to open up from the lock the Democrats had on it. Today, the South has changed, most whites have long ago gotten past the racism of the past and in fact the South is pretty cool and pretty much Republican. This bothers the Democrats and of course they hide from their history in the old South. Ironically the Democrats today still use race to divide the South but the Southern racists are for the most part all black now. The Democrats Southern strategy is to inflame racist passion in Southern blacks and thus try to win elections the old fashioned way; racism.

"The tide turned in the 60’s, the Republicans got the civil rights bill passed"

Moderate, establishment Republicans allied with liberal, non-Southern Democrats and President Johnson to push the 1964 Civil Rights Act through Congress. Meanwhile, pro-civil rights candidate George Romney lost the Republican nomination to anti-civil rights Barry Goldwater, who swept the Deep South in the 1964 election.

Not exactly true. Your entire claim to the belief that the Democrats "allied" with Republicans is based on the fact that indeed some Democrats voted for it. BUT it ignores the fact that the large majority of Democrats voted against it and the large majority of Republicans voted for it and passed it.

You misstate the philosophy of Barry Goldwater in your attempt to smear him. He believed in the constitution and he correctly noted that some of the wording in the civil rights act was unconstitutional. Many conservatives still oppose those unfair and unconstitutional ideas. Equal means "equal" not "special rights" or quotas. We should treat everyone equally AND allow individuals to maintain their individual and civil rights.

Here's part of what's driving polarization: https://i.sli.mg/qHOadM.jpg

Facebook censoring and temporarily banning people for mentioning that facebook is censoring conservatives. The result is an increasing divide.

Beginning in 1992 Gallup has annually reported ideology nationally. In early 2012 they said: "The percentage of Americans calling themselves "moderate" has gradually diminished in the U.S. since it was 43% in 1992. That is the year Gallup started routinely measuring ideology with the current question. It fell to 39% in 2002 and has been 35% since 2010. At the same time, the country became more politically polarized, with the percentages of Americans calling themselves either "conservative" or "liberal" each increasing [through 2011]."

Updating to 2015, last year moderates were 36%, conservatives were 35.7%, liberals were 23.3%. Back in '92, liberals were 17% and conservatives were 36%.

Note the inconsequential change, first year to most recent, in percentage of conservatives compared to the 6% uptick in liberals. Even so, liberals aren't a quarter of all Americans.

We can speculate that Americans' personal definitions of these terms may have changed across these years ... or that the number of "shy liberals" has decreased with a distinctly leftward President. But, based on Gallup's findings in the most recent years, it's very difficult to argue that the nation has become awash with conservatives compared to 1992 -- nearly a quarter of a century ago.

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