Political Polarization, Part 3

POLITICAL POLARIZATION, PART 3….Bill Bishop of the Austin American-Statesman has part 3 of his series about increasing polarization in American politics up today. It focuses on geographical polarization: the fact that individual counties are becoming more heavily partisan over time. These days, it turns out, we mostly choose to live only with likeminded people and are increasingly less likely to socialize with anyone who has different political beliefs.

One of the results of this is that our views have become more and more calcified and extreme, and presidential candidates have less and less middle ground to appeal to. In this environment, crafting a national message that appeals to your core supporters without alienating everyone else becomes nearly impossible:

As a result, there is no national campaign for the presidency. Neither party spent money on national advertising in 2000, says Michael Hagen, director of the Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University. “It was all bought at the local level,” Hagen says. “And so it obviously was a more narrowly targeted campaign than any presidential campaign had been before.

That’s an interesting factoid, isn’t it? Not a single dollar spent on national advertising.