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Look Inside American Gridlock
eBook forthcoming

American Gridlock
The Sources, Character, and Impact of Political Polarization

$34.99 (G)

Alan I. Abramowitz, Micah Altman, Michael McDonald, David Karol, Marc J. Hetherington, Jonathan Weiler, Samuel J. Abrams, Morris P. Fiorina, Jon R. Bond, Richard Fleisher, Jeffrey E. Cohen, Sean M. Theriault, Brandon L. Bartels, Boris Shor, Seth E. Masket, Elizabeth Rigby, Gerald C. Wright, Gary C. Jacobson, Danny Hayes, Jennifer L. Lawless, Kevin Arceneaux, Martin Johnson, Natalie Jomini Stroud, Alexander Curry, Adam Bonica, Nolan McCarty, Keith T. Poole, Howard Rosenthal, James A. Thurber, Antoine Yoshinaka
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  • Date Published: February 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107534698

$ 34.99 (G)

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About the Authors
  • American Gridlock brings together the country's preeminent experts on the causes, characteristics, and consequences of partisan polarization in US politics and government, with each chapter presenting original scholarship and novel data. This book is the first to combine research on all facets of polarization, among the public (both voters and activists), in our federal institutions (Congress, the presidency, and the Supreme Court), at the state level, and in the media. Each chapter includes a bullet-point summary of its main argument and conclusions, and is written in clear prose that highlights the substantive implications of polarization for representation and policy-making. Authors examine polarization with an array of current and historical data, including public opinion surveys, electoral and legislative and congressional data, experimental data, and content analyses of media outlets. American Gridlock's theoretical and empirical depth distinguishes it from any other volume on polarization.

    • Covers the phenomenon of polarization at various levels of government and among a diverse group of political actors, therefore readers can use this as a 'one-stop shop' on the question of polarization
    • Written in clear prose with use of simple quantitative analyses using the latest data, American Gridlock will appeal to a broad array of readers including those less comfortable with the use of advanced statistics
    • The authors are well-known, top-rate scholars who study the question of polarization in the United States
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "American Gridlock is a collection of work from some of the best scholars who study American political polarization. These impressive thinkers join together to explore polarization in the US electorate, political institutions, states, and the media, all in one volume. This is a must-have book for anyone interested in American politics in the current era."
    Joseph Bafumi, Dartmouth College

    "American politics has become riven by divisions so great and so persistent that they threaten to undermine the ability of elected officials to govern effectively across a wide range of critical public issues. It is a problem that must be solved, and American Gridlock, bringing together the best thinking in the world of political science, makes a major contribution to understanding the root causes of the current polarization and pointing to potential solutions. If we want government to work again, this is a very important book."
    Mickey Edwards, former Congressman and author of The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans

    "American Gridlock is a superb addition to our understanding of partisan polarization in American politics. The breadth and depth of the chapters are remarkable, offering many new insights into the ways in which partisanship has come to shape our polarized nation. No stone is left unturned in this impressive volume."
    Sarah Binder, George Washington University and the Brookings Institution

    "The contributors to American Gridlock illuminate the causes, consequences, and significance of polarization in American politics with the kind of caution and evidence often lacking on the subject."
    Hans Noel, Georgetown University, Washington DC

    "[These] essays transcend assessments of institutional performance based on the number of laws passed and instead evaluate the extent to which legislators produce policies that address major domestic priorities. An analytically astute and deeply sobering account of why a nation that excels in so many other respects today struggles to govern itself."
    Suzanne Mettler, Clinton Rossiter Professor of American Institutions, Cornell University

    "Editors James Thurber and Antoine Yoshinaka frame the right question: even if we take polarization as a given, we still know very little about disagreement manifest itself in different venues, across groups, and in different policy areas … The final insight of this very smart volume lies in its caution about institutional changes that might arrest and reduce polarization."
    William Bianco, Congress and The Presidency

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107534698
    • length: 436 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 26 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • contains: 85 b/w illus. 28 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Polarization among Voters and Activists:
    1. The new American electorate: partisan, sorted, and polarized Alan I. Abramowitz
    2. Redistricting and polarization Micah Altman and Michael McDonald
    3. Party activists, interest groups, and polarization in American politics David Karol
    4. Authoritarianism and polarization in American politics, still? Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler
    5. Party sorting: the foundation of polarized politics Samuel J. Abrams and Morris P. Fiorina
    Part II. Polarization in National Institutions:
    6. Presidential-congressional relations in an era of polarized parties and a sixty-vote Senate Jon R. Bond, Richard Fleisher and Jeffrey E. Cohen
    7. Party warriors: the ugly side of party polarization in Congress Sean M. Theriault
    8. The sources and consequences of polarization in the US Supreme Court Brandon L. Bartels
    Part III. Polarization in the States:
    9. Polarization in American state legislatures Boris Shor
    10. The costs of party reform: two states' experiences Seth E. Masket
    11. The policy consequences of party polarization: evidence from the American States Elizabeth Rigby and Gerald C. Wright
    Part IV. Polarization in the Media:
    12. Partisan media and electoral polarization in 2012: evidence from the American National Election Study Gary C. Jacobson
    13. News as a casualty: district polarization and media coverage of US House campaigns Danny Hayes and Jennifer L. Lawless
    14. More a symptom than a cause: polarization and partisan news media in America Kevin Arceneaux and Martin Johnson
    15. The polarizing effects of partisan and mainstream news Natalie Jomini Stroud and Alexander Curry
    Part V. Implications and Conclusions:
    16. Congressional polarization and its connection to income equality: an update Adam Bonica, Nolan McCarty, Keith T. Poole and Howard Rosenthal
    17. The sources and impact of political polarization James A. Thurber and Antoine Yoshinaka.

  • Editors

    James A. Thurber, American University, Washington DC
    James A. Thurber is University Distinguished Professor of Government and Founder and Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, Washington DC. In 2010, he won the Walter Beach Pi Sigma American Political Science Association Award for his work combining applied and academic research. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and a member of the American Bar Association's Task Force on Lobbying Law Reform. He is the author of multiple books and more than eighty articles and chapters on Congress, congressional-presidential relations, congressional budgeting, congressional reform, interest groups and lobbying, congressional ethics, and campaigns and elections. He co-produced three BBC TV documentaries on the US Congress and elections.

    Antoine Yoshinaka, State University of New York, Buffalo
    Antoine Yoshinaka is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the State University of New York, Buffalo. He has published numerous articles on elections, parties, and representation in outlets like PS: Political Science and Politics, Legislative Studies Quarterly, the British Journal of Political Science and Electoral Studies. His book Crossing the Aisle: Party Switching by US Legislators in the Postwar Era was published by Cambridge University Press in 2015.


    Alan I. Abramowitz, Micah Altman, Michael McDonald, David Karol, Marc J. Hetherington, Jonathan Weiler, Samuel J. Abrams, Morris P. Fiorina, Jon R. Bond, Richard Fleisher, Jeffrey E. Cohen, Sean M. Theriault, Brandon L. Bartels, Boris Shor, Seth E. Masket, Elizabeth Rigby, Gerald C. Wright, Gary C. Jacobson, Danny Hayes, Jennifer L. Lawless, Kevin Arceneaux, Martin Johnson, Natalie Jomini Stroud, Alexander Curry, Adam Bonica, Nolan McCarty, Keith T. Poole, Howard Rosenthal, James A. Thurber, Antoine Yoshinaka

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