October 10, 2015

LEFT AND LEFTER: Study: Democrats Moving Left Faster Than Republicans Moving Right.

At least since the 2010 midterms, it’s been a liberal talking point that Republican extremism is to blame for political polarization and gridlock. In the old days, the argument goes, Republicans were a moderate party, but over the past generation the GOP has been gradually taken over by its far-right wing. Before the last GOP debate, for example, the Center for American Progress launched a “Right of Reagan” campaign to supposedly show “how the extremism of today’s Republican presidential candidates sets them apart from their conservative idol.”

But as the debates over issues like the $15 minimum wage, healthcare, and universal preschool have already shown, the Democrats have moved to the left at least as quickly as the Republicans have moved to the right. After all, Hillary Clinton has to renounce a good chunk of her husband’s positions to be competitive in the 2016 primary.

Now, a paper on polarization and inequality released in August by political scientists from Princeton, Georgetown, and the University of Oregon (and highlighted this week in a Washington Post article) provides some empirical evidence that Democratic Party’s leftward drift is more pronounced than the GOP’s rightward drift, at least at the state level.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention.

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