Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Republicans Most Conservative EVER?

President Obama recently complained to news media executives about their seemingly even-handed coverage of the partisan battles in Washington. His complaint was that Republicans had moved so far right and that it was wrong to place an equal amount of blame on both parties for Washington gridlock.

The numbers may be on his side. The Republican Party is the most conservative it has been in modern history, according to an NPR report on research by two political scientists. Keith Poole of the University of Georgia, with his collaborator Howard Rosenthal of New York University, has spent decades charting the ideological shifts and polarization of the political parties in Congress from the 18th century until now to get the view of how the political landscape has changed.

"The short version would be since the late 1970s starting with the 1976 election in the House the Republican caucus has steadily moved to the right ever since,” Poole said. “It's been a little more uneven in the Senate. The Senate caucuses have also moved to the right. Republicans are now the furthest to the right that they've been in 100 years."

1 comment:

  1. I think this is interesting, but I'd like to see the comparison alongside changes in the Democratic party. Have Democrats changes to the left (or right) as well? And what consequences does this have for gridlock? If the entire country is getting more conservative, then it seems like it would be easier to get along, not more difficult.

    Also, how does this NPR poll judge conservatism? Aren't there many different aspects to being a Republican, and how can you control for what is a Republican trait and what designates a Republican?