Essay about Correlation Between Voter Turnout And Political Polarization

Essay about Correlation Between Voter Turnout And Political Polarization

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Political polarization is a prominent issue in elected officials today, according to a study done by Pew Research Center in 1973-74 there was substantial overlap between the most liberal and the most conservative Senators and House Representatives in the way they voted. In 1993-94 there was less overlap then there was in the 70’s, but it was still there, unfortunately in 2011-12 there was almost no overlap remaining. This shows that polarization is in fact getting worse in Congress and causing significant problems. There are many consequences of the political polarization in Congress such as (1) inability to get much done, (2) elected officials not representing the majority of American’s, and (3) further economic inequality. There are many theories as to why polarization has increased in Congress, but the objective of this study is to determine if there is a significant relationship between voter turnout and political polarization in Congress.
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Polarization is explained as public opinions going to two extremes, leaving no real moderates. The shift to the left and the right can be explained by the social changes and recent government actions that have caused disagreement about what the government should be accomplishing (“Hopkins 72”). Polarization has made the fundamental differences in how liberals and conservatives believe they should handle different issues more obvious to the general public. Two of the most controversial issues today are abortion and gay marriage, these two issues alone can be seen as creating polarization. The reason people use these two issues to point out the problem with polarization is because consistent liberals agree with each other on both issues and consistent conservatives agree ...

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Political polarization is likely to be dependent on voter turnout since voting is how elected officials are determined, but the main point is to determine if there is actually a relationship between the two and if that relationship is a significant one. Polarization will be calculated by averaging the numerical difference between the Democrat polarization index and the Republican polarization index for a given year, creating the overall polarization index. This data will be collected from Chapter 8 of a report done by Brookings and the American Enterprise Institute called “Vital Statistics on Congress.”
Voter turnout is defined as the percent of voting age American’s who vote during an election. This data will be collected from the United States Elections Project which has voter turnout for general elections and primary elections from 2000 to present.

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