« Koger and Fowler on agenda setting in the Senate | Main | Hsieh et al. on how Venezuala's government punishes the opposition (and how the opposition punishes government supporters) »

McCarthy and Poole on gerrymandering and political polarization

Abstract: Both pundits and scholars have blamed increasing levels of partisan conflict and polarization in Congress on the effects of partisan gerrymandering. We assess whether there is a strong causal relationship between congressional districting and polarization. We find very little evidence for such a link. First, we show that congressional polarization is primarily a function of the differences in how Democrats and Republicans represent the same districts rather than a function of which districts each party represents or the distribution of constituency preferences. Second, we conduct simulations to gauge the level of polarization under various “neutral” districting procedures. We find that the actual levels of polarization are not much higher than those produced by the simulations. We do find that gerrymandering has increased the Republican seat share in the House; however, this increase is not an important source of polarization.

Nolan McCarthy and Keith T. Poole (2007), “Does Gerrymandering Cause Polarization?,” unpublished paper. Available here.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)