Polarization in Congress hits half-century peak
Congressional Democrats and Republicans are further apart ideologically than at any point during the past five decades — and Republicans are more to blame than Democrats, according to analysis by Pew Research Center.
Why it matters: The growing polarization makes it even more difficult for Congress to find bipartisan compromise for important legislation.
- Both parties have had to deal with internal fracturing, but the GOP has moved further right than Democrats have moved left, the Pew analysis shows.
- Republicans have ended up with some untouchable partisans.
By the numbers: Pew Research highlighted three major congressional trends in recent decades.
- On average, Democrats are more liberal and Republicans are much more conservative than in the early 1970s.
- Moderates have disappeared, and there's far less ideological overlap between Republicans and Democrats. There are now only about two dozen moderate Democrats and Republicans left, compared to 160 in 1971-72.
- Congress is now far more demographically diverse.
Go deeper: The geographic makeup of each party has shifted, as well.
- The share of House Republicans from the South has grown from less than 15% 50 years ago to 42% today — and these Southern Republicans have become even more conservative than the rest of the party.