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Yes, political polarization has gotten much worse

Summary:
In a recent post, I discussed some reasons why political polarization has become much worse in recent years.  In the comment section, I was startled to see people deny that polarization had actually become much worse.  (Perhaps some commenters are too young to recall the 20th century.)  In any case, a recent article in The Economist provides some data: Scholars of American politics are particularly dismayed by rising levels of “affective polarisation,” the political science term for the hostility one person feels towards members of the other party relative to the feelings they have towards members of their own party. Levels of affective polarisation have risen more than two-fold since the 1970s when the American National Election Studies, a quadrennial academic

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In a recent post, I discussed some reasons why political polarization has become much worse in recent years.  In the comment section, I was startled to see people deny that polarization had actually become much worse.  (Perhaps some commenters are too young to recall the 20th century.)  In any case, a recent article in The Economist provides some data:

Scholars of American politics are particularly dismayed by rising levels of “affective polarisation,” the political science term for the hostility one person feels towards members of the other party relative to the feelings they have towards members of their own party. Levels of affective polarisation have risen more than two-fold since the 1970s when the American National Election Studies, a quadrennial academic survey started at the University of Michigan, began asking citizens to rate how they felt about members of either major party. In 1978, according to the survey, the difference between Americans’ ratings of members of their own and ratings of members of the other party on a 100-point “feeling thermometer” scale was 27 points. The gap had widened to 56 by 2020.

Yes, political polarization is real and getting much worse.

Scott Sumner
Scott B. Sumner is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, the Director of the Program on Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and an economist who teaches at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. His economics blog, The Money Illusion, popularized the idea of nominal GDP targeting, which says that the Fed should target nominal GDP—i.e., real GDP growth plus the rate of inflation—to better "induce the correct level of business investment". In May 2012, Chicago Fed President Charles L. Evans became the first sitting member of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to endorse the idea.

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