Blame the American public, not the president, for the polarization

Even though this article comes from a left-leaning periodical, the argument is not new and has ample independent empirical support.

Although presidents always try to pursue policies that satisfy their supporters—and, in most cases, anger the opposition—it’s important to remember that presidents themselves aren’t responsible for the increase in polarization. That Republicans and Democrats have a stark contrast in opinions on the performance of President Obama has less to do with Obama, and everything to do with the public itself, which has grown more ideological and more partisan over the last 30 years. To wit, co-partisans are more likely to live near each other—think cities and suburbs—and their representatives tend to reflect that fact.

The authors also cite research showing that Republicans shifted rightward since the 1970s at a rate three times that of the Democratic shift leftward.

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