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Party Polarization in Congress Paperback – August 11, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0521717687 ISBN-10: 052171768X

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Party Polarization in Congress + Congress and Its Members, 14th Edition + Congress Reconsidered, 10th Edition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052171768X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521717687
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #750,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Sean Theriault has done something far too rare in the study of American politics: provided a truly synthetic account of a vital political development, the dramatic polarization of Congress over the last generation. Mixing rigorous analysis with revealing stories and careful consideration of alternative explanations, Theriault's book is a one-stop source for those wishing to understand why Republicans and Democrats just can't get along in the modern Congress."
-Jacob S. Hacker, Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

"Sean Theriault gracefully integrates the many explanations that have been offered for the increasing party polarization evident in the US Congress. He compellingly argues that as congressional districts become more homogeneous, party leaders become stronger and thus better positioned to employ procedural strategies that exacerbate party polarization. All told, Party Polarization in Congress is a creative, synthetic, and extremely valuable treatment of one of the most intensely studied topics in modern American politics."
-John R. Hibbing, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

"Probably no topic has received more attention from analysts of American politics over the last couple of decades than partisan polarization. In this book, Sean Theriault has substantially advanced our understanding of the many facets of that phenomenon. He deals with the electoral sources of polarization, including the roles of redistricting, geographic sorting, and party activists. Theriault also assesses the relationship between these electoral roots and the evolution of legislative procedures, and their effect in turn on elite polarization in both the House and Senate. This is an exceptional book, valuable and accessible to congressional researchers and undergraduate students alike."
-David Rohde, Duke University

"Sean Theriault's Party Polarization in Congress is an excellent place for readers who want to start thinking about the challenge of polarization in a more rigorous and systematic fashion....Theriault makes a significant contribution to the discussion about polarization that should impact both policymakers and voters."
-Julian E. Zelizer, Huffington Post

"In Party Polarization in Congress, Sean Theriault excellently presents and tests some of the main explanations for why polarization has occurred recently in Congress...Party Polarization in Congress is an excellent addition to the literature on how parties within Congress have changed over time. As Theriault helpfully demonstrates, it is not necessary to think of each of the explanations of polarization as competing with one another. In fact, as Theriault does here, it is likely more helpful to include each of the explanations into one coherent model that gives researchers more insight into how the polarization process in Congress has occurred."
-Walt Jatkowski III, Carl Albert Center Fellow, University of Oklahoma, APSA Legislative Studies Section Newsletter, Book Notes

Book Description

Theriault examines more than 30 years of congressional history to understand how it is that the Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have become so divided. His research traces the rise in party polarization to procedures used during the legislative process and examines their origins and effects on legislative politics.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Howard Shin on September 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
Filled with countless data and fact sets regarding polarization in Congress, Party Polarization is key in figuring out how party alignment in the U.S. Congress comes about. Party Polarization includes more than just looking at the vote counts of Congress - it goes further and more in depth in a wide range of figures. It looks at everything from redistricting outcomes to pressures faced by individuals from their respective parties. If anyone is even remotely interested in looking into how the party alignments change, what goes into the alignments, and inner workings of Congress, I highly recommend this book. From reading this book, Sean Theriaults profound knowledge of the inner workings of Congress is obvious.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Henry Horsfall on August 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Never came.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Frimurare on December 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
A book all students of American politics, young and old, should be required to read. Of course, as a requirement is exactly the circumstances under which I read this book, but I can't say I was disappointed by what was contained within. The ideas presented were well articulated, and the material was clear and to the point. Though it at some level might seem a little obvious that a valid solution to the questions of polarization is "Ram everything together", Theriault shows that it is far more complicated than that, and does an excellent job balancing out all of the intricacies and explaining it clearly without the self-aggrandizing pomp that dominates the literature of Political Science.

All that said, I am disappointed to see the lack of analogies using Presidential dolls, which really was one of the selling points of the class. Perhaps if future books include more of this, I will be more inclined to try and get my friends and family to buy copies.
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin W. Nelson on December 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am in his 370 class, and he made us buy his book. That's O.K. though, because the research by his students and himself has been crucial to the course. While it isn't the most entertaining read, it is informative. Anyone interested in politics should buy this book. Anyone who has noticed a rift between the right and left since Newt won the congress for the Republicans probably already has this book. Hopefully this review will boost my professor's book sales, and his ego.

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