Newspaper article Roll Call

Does Apathy Trump Political Divisions? | Commentary

Newspaper article Roll Call

Does Apathy Trump Political Divisions? | Commentary

Article excerpt

Does Apathy Trump Political Divisions? | Commentary

Tweet

[copyright] Reprints Email

* By Matt Canter

* May 12, 2015, 2:05 p.m.

In 2014, Democrats defended Senate seats in seven states where President Barack Obama lost to Mitt Romney by an average margin of 16.5 percent in 2012. In the end, after approximately $4 billion spent, Democratic candidates lost those races by an average margin of 15.7 points - about a 1 percent difference from the presidential two years earlier. Democratic candidates outperformed the president's job performance in nearly all of these states, but it wasn't enough. Voters still tied congressional candidates to the president, and presidential and congressional voting converged like never before.

Why?

Local politics have become increasingly nationalized, and split- ticket voting in House and Senate races appears like a thing of the past. Candidates and campaigns still matter, but swing voters are disappearing, straight-ticket voting is on the rise and partisan identities are becoming increasingly homogeneous.

According to a study out last month by Alan Abramowitz and Steven Webster of Emory University, voters across the country are increasingly motivated by their animosity and negative feeling of the opposing party.

The evidence suggests a political divide is growing in America. But does the evidence suggest Americans are growing more political? Are we more or less focused on our political differences or other aspects of our lives? There are several indicators that suggest while our politics may be more divisive, perhaps people have turned away from politics and are less focused on it as part of their daily lives.

First, let's look at voter participation. While voter turnout rates in presidential elections have stayed relatively constant - between 49 percent (in 1996) and 57 percent (2008) since Richard M. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.