Under the Dome

U.S. Senate as polarized as the early 1900s

The recent debates in Washington about budget cuts and guns show increasing evidence of polarization, a new study highlights.

Researchers at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill visualized the divide in the U.S. Senate going back to the start of the 20th century by analyzing voting data. “We have not seen the current level of partisanship since the early 1900s,” professors James Moody of Duke and Peter Mucha of UNC-CH found. (Maybe this is why some in the U.S. Senate don't think so highly of political science research.)

The professors used an innovative network analysis to visualize the trends and published the findings in the new journal Network Science (Download it here.) “In the current era, middle positions seem fragile and even longtime middle residents follow party lines (Jeffords) or lose their seats (L. Chafee),” the authors said in a statement, citing the examples of senators James Jeffords of Vermont and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island.

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