The Disappearing Congressional Middle

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A clear indicator of the shrinking political middle on Capitol Hill. Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies offers this disturbingly illustrative chart of the rapid pace of hyper-partisan voting trends in Washington just since 1982 (as defined by National Journal voting scorecards over time). What’s at the heart of it? I would argue a number of factors but none more influential than a partisan redistricting system at the state level that encourages collusion between reds and blues to carve up safe seats for each other. There is a disincentive for candidates to appeal to the middle when a district leans heavily in one partisan direction or another. A system that awards congressional seats to whomever wins the partisan primary will naturally send politicians to their poles to appeal to the wildest-eye, true believer primary voters — who just happen to be the meanest partisans.

What’s the fix? Nonpartisan line drawing to encourage more competitive districts certainly. Top-two primary election reform is also worth a look (top two finishers, regardless of party compete in a runoff which would give more choice to centrists/moderates). The majority middle would love a chance to participate in such a reform.

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About thecenterwins

Jim Jonas is a strategic communications consultant for corporate, nonprofit and public affairs organizations. He and his firm, JKJ Partners, have worked with campaigns and causes from both national parties and for political reform efforts to promote centrist and independent candidates and organizations across the country.
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One Response to The Disappearing Congressional Middle

  1. Pingback: Tampen Down Hyper Partisanship Through Redistricting Reform | The Center Wins

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