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.
- What are “Top-Two” Primaries and Can They Save America? (itnshow.com)