AP Research Week 3: Partisanship

Apr 29, 2022

America is becoming more partisan than ever. According to the American National Election Studies (ANES), an academically-run government funded national surveys of voters in the United States, conducted before and after every presidential election, the amount of people who strongly identify as partisan is higher than ever before. Even those who claim independence from partisan politics are becoming a myth as the floating voter disappears. Corwin D. Smidt found for the American Journal of Political Science that the independents of 2016 acted like the most partisan of 1960, meaning that the flip flop voters of the past are all but gone. This is the first step in the problems of partisanship being accentuated.

At the same time, “both major parties are less popular than at any time in recent history.” In a 2018 copy of Advances in Political Psychology, Alan Abramowitz and Steven Webber argue the cause of this problem is “negative partisanship—the phenomenon whereby Americans largely align against one party instead of affiliating with the other”. This has led to a steep increase in disdain for the other party rather than an actual increase in like for one’s own party. This has accentuated the feeling of disdain out of party which could increase the apathy and violent tendencies the parties hold towards each other. If the parties fail to view each other as legitimate, then it only makes sense that they would view violence against each other as okay, as there would be no reason why they should care for those on the other side.

This is made clear when it comes to voting. Charles Stewart III, Stephen Ansolabehere & Nathaniel Persily found for the Stanford Law Review that opinions on the need for voting security were now based almost entirely on party lines. Partisanship is now a deciding factor in how elections are run. At this point in time partisan identities play such a massive part in any political discussion even just in the distinct ways the different parties act. In order to properly analyze the correlation the partisan distinction needs to be made. 

Hudson Hort

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