The Phantom of a Polarized America

Myths and Truths of an Ideological Divide

By Manabu Saeki

Subjects: Political Parties, Congressional Studies, Public Opinion, Political Science
Paperback : 9781438459080, 216 pages, January 2017
Hardcover : 9781438459073, 216 pages, February 2016

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Table of contents

Tables and Figures

1. Introduction

2. Electorate

3. Congress

4. Ideology of Partisan Voters and Congressional Members

5. Policy Change

6. Veto and Override

7. Partisanship

8. Conclusion


Indicates how the rightward shift in the ideology of House Republicans has been mistaken for a broader "polarization" of both parties as well as voters.


There is a widespread belief that American politics is becoming more polarized, in the sense that the Republican Party and electorate are becoming more conservative while the Democratic Party and electorate are becoming more liberal. But is this truly the case? The Phantom of a Polarized America places widely held scholarly assumptions about the "polarization" of American politics under the microscope and tests them to determine their veracity. In the case of Congress, Manabu Saeki reveals that contrary to popular beliefs, polarization is largely due to the rightward shift of Republican legislators without any corresponding leftward shift by Democratic legislators. The conservative shift of House Republican ideology has produced a rightward shift of Republican voters, and conservative voters in the Democratic Party have switched to the Republican Party, resulting in a more liberal Democratic Party overall. Saeki concludes that the so-called "polarization" of American politics is largely a phantom being; in truth, it is a neo-conservative movement led by House Republicans.

Manabu Saeki is Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Jacksonville State University. He is the author of The Other Side of Gridlock: Policy Stability and Supermajoritarianism in U.S. Lawmaking, also published by SUNY Press.


"...a significant contribution to the literature and an important study for those interested in understanding America's polarized politics." — Public Opinion Quarterly

"The Phantom of a Polarized America will make a great source text in a graduate level course on either partisanship in the electorate or on the study of Congress and gridlock." — CHOICE