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American Gridlock


  • 85 b/w illus. 28 tables
  • Page extent: 436 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.71 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9781107114166)

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


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.


'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

'This volume assembles the work of an excellent set of authors who have been studying these developments for some time. Their papers present accessible analysis of what drives polarization, when and how it developed, and how pervasive it is … A highly recommended book for anyone seeking to understand why Americans are so divided … Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.' J. M. Stonecash, Choice

'American Gridlock is an engaging, thoughtful improvement on this dismal picture. … 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


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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