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Forces Behind Growing Political Polarization in Congress Revealed in New Model


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The U.S. House of Representatives in session.

The model developed by rresearchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute accurately predicted changes in polarization in 28 of the 30 U.S. Congresses elected in the past 60 years.

Credit: Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) analyzed roll call votes taken in the U.S. Congress to develop a model able to accurately predict changes in polarization in 28 of the 30 U.S. Congresses elected in the past 60 years.

In creating the model, the researchers isolated a force that, they claim, plays a role in determining polarization in politics that is analogous to that of gravitational force in physics. The researchers call this force "polarization utility," and defined it as a measure of "how much benefit members of Congress can realize by focusing on issues with appealing to their supporters."

The team identified two critical factors that determine the level of polarization utility: the polarization of voters, and an increase in the influence of campaign donors driven by the increasing costs of election campaigns.

From Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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Abstracts Copyright © 2019 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


 

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