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Posted at 10:48 AM ET, 02/ 8/2011

The 111th Congress was the most polarized ever -- in graphs

By Ezra Klein


That's from this post by political scientist Keith Poole. A bit later in the piece, he breaks the numbers down further and finds that the high level of polarization was primarily a result of Republicans being more polarized than ever before. Democrats, as you can see on the dark red line in the following graph, were pretty well within their historical norms:


More on the methodology here.

By Ezra Klein  | February 8, 2011; 10:48 AM ET
Categories:  Charts and Graphs  
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Republicans wouldn't have to move an inch for this to happen, considering Obama's leftist agenda. Universal healthcare, global warming, union giveaways -- what would you expect???

Posted by: whoisjohngaltcom | February 8, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse


Don't forget Great Recession.

Your thinking is why I am no longer a Republican.

When serious problems appear, the GOP wants to pretend they aren't there and want to prevent solutions. This has not always been the case. And this is why we are polarized more now than ever.

After all, what party impeached Clinton?

What party had endless investigations in the 90s instead of focusing on terrorism?

What party now has celebrated the Citizens United decision to allow transnational corporations to become involved with US elections?

Extending health care should not be polarizing. The fact it is proves to me I am right not to support the GOP.

Trying to fix wallstreet after the Great Recession should not be polarizing. The fact the GOP does not want to fix anything again proves the GOP are the ones being polarizing.

Trying to reduce the amount of carbon spewed into the air, or chems in the water, or how much oil we import and depend on, should not be polarizing. The fact the GOP tries to block common sense efforts at improving our situation again proves it is the party of Polarization.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 8, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Ezra is correct....never has a Congress been so inept as when Democrats ruled the past two years.

Can you think of any other Congress in recent history that held such large majorities of both Houses, and the Presidency, and accomplished little more than advancing a pet ideaological issue against the will of a majority of the citizens?

Posted by: dbw1 | February 8, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Lauren 2010 for that comment , all attempts to solve our problems now seem to all POLITICS ALL THE TIME . That is why so many young people are so turned off and are not getting involved in solving our collective problems. I think Ezra is a voice of reason on most matters and the only fault I have with him is that he wastes time trying to reason with the unreasonable who only mock him when he shuts down their arguments !

Posted by: sligowoman | February 8, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

...and you are surprised! Bribes and cheating to get legislation pushed through. Heavy-handed politics = divided congress. The left got what it wanted!! And, now they will pay at the 2012 election just like in 2010!

Posted by: my4653 | February 8, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse


We have clashed in the past.

Uhm ...

1. impeach clinton
2. endless investigations in 90s
3. citizens decision celebration
4. extend healthcare
5. regulate wall street
6. carbon caps

If those are your reasons to not be a Republican anymore, you never WERE a Republican.

Actually main proof that you never were a Republican is bringing up the impeachment issue. The fact you had to go there ... all the way BACK there shows you have always been a progressive.

At best I would say you were a nominal Republican because your parents are. But you never really were.

Now dealing with each of those.

1. If Monica lewinsky was even half bright she would have sold the blue dress to Bill Gates or China.
Think of all the blackmail they could have heaped on the President.

Clinton -- by allowing a dress to have his semen stains on it -- opened the Presidency to blackmail.

2. Endless investigations in the 90s.
Endless investigations in the 70s ( all through Nixon's first term ).
Contra and other non-stop investigations during the 80s against Reagan.
Endless investigations against Bush in 2007-2008 ( and carried over in 2009, remember the lawyers being fired and the CIA scuffle? ).

Tit for tat. But then someone claims you tatted them harder than they did you ... so they gotta get even. Then you claim they tatted you even harder so you smack harder.

3. Citizen's United? Celebrate?
And you don't think Progressives danced in the streets when a judge declared DOMA unconstitutional in Calif?
Besides. I am a member of the IATSE stage hands union.
You may note I stands for international.
That includes Canada.
many OTHER unions are in 10 and more countries.
Are you going to ban THEIR contributions?

Yea. Didn't think so.

3. The Republicans want to extend health care.
Just not the way the Democrats want to.
They have a plan. Look it up.
You have the right to say it isn't good enough, but not to say they just want to block.

And even if that is all they wanted to do?
At the townhall meetings.

Sheeeeeeeeesh!!!! Talk about giving your constituents the finger and then blaming the other guy for stirring up the people who HAVE THE RIGHT TO FIRE YOU because you seem to think you represent the PARTY to THEM, not THEM to the PARTY!!!

4. Wallstreet did not cause the recession.
The crap housing loans caused the recession.
The loans were mandated by the government and people have been predicted the looming high-risk housing bubble crash since 1996!!!!

And both the Republicans and Democrats kicked that can down the road making temporary fixes which just made the ultimate crash worse.

Reduce carbon spewed. Republicans also do not have an issue with that.
The devil is in the details.
as in HOW?
Incentives ( say tax deductions ) or penalties ( as in cap and trade ).
Incentives help the economy. Penalties destroy it.
Also drill in ANWAR and we won't import oil will we?
Again HOW makes a difference huh?

Posted by: chromenhawk | February 8, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

"The crap housing loans caused the recession.
The loans were mandated by the government and people have been predicted the looming high-risk housing bubble crash since 1996!!!!"

You can put as many exclamation points behind that nonsense sentence as you'd like, it still doesn't make it true.

Posted by: ottoman88 | February 8, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse


From your link on the methodology ...

This updated release of the DW-NOMINATE scores for the 1st to the 111th Congresses (1789 - 2010) contains parametric bootstrapped standard errors.
In the House scaling, the second dimension weight is 0.4063 and the Beta parameter (proportional to 1/s where s is the standard deviation of the error) is 7.366. The correct classification was 87.37 percent with an APRE of 0.622 and a geometric mean probability of 0.754. The corresponding values for the Senate scaling are .5113 and 9.780, for the second dimension weight and Beta, respectively. The correct classification was 85.93 percent with an APRE of 0.5848 and a geometric mean probability of 0.740."

Why those weights?
What is the justification for those weights?
Why did it JUST get put in but was never in before?
What happens if you put different weights in?

Wonders where Nate Silver is to call out Ezra for cherry picking reports that have numbers pulled out of the air to show a specific "result" based upon NEW standards added in JUST this year.

And wonders if those standards will be "removed" next cycle and replaced with something else.
And if they are will Ezra make a post admitting "oops ... I kind of quoted something that was unfounded."

White lies, damn lies and statistics.

That saying is just as old as mark twain's "Imagine you are a Congressman. Now imagine you are an idiot. But then I am repeating myself."

And sadly, just as true.

Posted by: chromenhawk | February 8, 2011 4:41 PM | Report abuse

There is no GOP plan to ensure 99% of Americans have affordable health care with no bans on pre-ex people and no guarantee of recission. Their plan is Ryan's plan, and his plan says to steadily reduce gvmt payments for medicare and SS. If you read his plan you would know that anyone 55 or older as of 2010 would be exempt from future SS cuts. But people younger than that NOW will see progressive cuts.

When you try to defend the impeachment by bringing up Lewinsky, your polarizing neocon colors show brightly.

It is a GOP lie that gvmt loans caused the recession. A prior commenter already addressed that. Your willingness to propigate this lie shows your true polarizing colors.

The fact you defend Citizens United here again shows your transnational loyalties rather than American loyalties. DOMA was also an atrocity foistered onto Americans and causing actual documentable losses of liberty, not just theoretical ones. When you publicly oppose Citizens United, then feel free to call yourself an American again. It is one thing to disagree about minor ideological BS, but when Republicans are widely pro foreign money in US elections, then you know you people have lost a sense of reality and what it really means to have been an American.

The GOP has no plan nor any intention to restrict carbon emissions. ANWR is not a solution to reducing carbon, it is just more of the same drill baby drill insanity.

Nixon was a criminal. Why are you defending him? I was Republican then (in high school) but even I knew he was a crook. One of the men who broke into Watergate was associated with Cuban thugs and is well known to be a go-to guy for Nixon's dirty work.

An who are you to tell me what kind of Republican, or anything, I am? I am a 12 year USAF veteran who voted for Reagan twice. Unlike many ill-informed (or worse) Americans, I saw what was happening to the GOP around 1992 when Bush brought all his cronies and saudi & corporate shills into the party and started lying to Americans on a massive scale.

Did you ever serve in the Military? If so, details please.

I was an ECM technician (32873 AFSC), and left as an E-5 (Tech Sgt).

And here's a quiz every veteran will know: what military document does every veteran have in order to prove service and o obtain benefits once you leave the service?

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 8, 2011 5:22 PM | Report abuse


91B/C medic from 1981-1986 in the US Army at Fort Sam Houston.

From there 14 more years in the Calif Natl Guard ( both southern and northern )

I left as a SFC (E-7) Ambulance Platoon Sgt and have my 20-year letter.

And boy you talk about polarizing look at your language. Basically, "YOU DISAGREE WITH ME?!? YOU are POLARIZING!"

In addition, neocon -- you might want to do some research on neocon.

Neoconservatism in the United States is a version of US Conservatism which based on the tenets of Neoliberalism supports a limited welfare state in favour of low taxes and a free market. While rhetorically supportive of free markets, neoconservatives are still willing to interfere for overriding social purposes.

Specifically, neoconservativism holds the position that dictators, either left or right are bad people.

And it was fannie mae and freddie mac that burst the economy.
I am sorry -- a link to thelonggoodbye?
That would be like me trying to defend a policy by linking to Glenn Beck.

Posted by: chromenhawk | February 8, 2011 7:58 PM | Report abuse

to Lauren 2010 , Thank you for your service and ... just thank you !

Posted by: sligowoman | February 8, 2011 7:58 PM | Report abuse

"here is no GOP plan to ensure 99% of Americans have affordable health care with no bans on pre-ex people and no guarantee of recission. Their plan is Ryan's plan, and his plan says to steadily reduce gvmt payments for medicare and SS"

There is no need for such a plan. The fact that you believe that 99% of Americans have to have affordable health care provided by the government clearly shows that you are completely lying when you claim to be a former Republican, or that you were one of the most ignorant people in the nation.

Posted by: krazen1211 | February 8, 2011 8:55 PM | Report abuse

most of the civilized world believes that health care is a right , and they find ways to pay for that right ,
but of course conservatives in US have opposed every type of reform and human right in history , from womens rights , to gay rights , to civil rights , opposed family leave, opposed the GI bill..... has there ever been somethiing conservatives were FOR ... cannot think of any except tax cuts !

Posted by: sligowoman | February 8, 2011 9:57 PM | Report abuse

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