The Fix: partisanship

April 8: The day that everyone in Washington got into a fight

April 8: The day that everyone in Washington got into a fight

On this day, almost 200 years ago, two senators got so upset with each other that they tried to kill each other.

Now, no one got quite that angry on Capitol Hill on Tuesday (more info on that face-off from the Senate Historical Office), but there were tons of verbal -- and social media -- altercations.

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It wasn't always this bad. The growth of political polarization, in 1 chart.

It wasn't always this bad. The growth of political polarization, in 1 chart.

Earlier today, we wrote on one of the main underpinnings of political polarization in the country -- the deep split on what the proper role of government should be.

In response to that post, one reader pointed us to this fascinating survey on polarization in the Senate as shown through voting records of all 100 senators over a two year period.

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The American electorate: Partisan and super predictable

The American electorate: Partisan and super predictable

We live in very partisan times; everyone knows this.

But few things demonstrate the degree of that partisanship like the two charts below, which come courtesy of the blogger (and contributor to the liberal blog Daily Kos) Xenocrypt.

Both charts compare how each congressional district voted for president in two successive elections. The first compares how they voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012, while the second compares how they voted for two-time Democratic candidate (and two-time loser) Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956.

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Why Congress is so partisan, in two charts

Why Congress is so partisan, in two charts

If you think there is any hope of bipartisan compromise in today’s political environment, we’ve got a few words for you.

“Bad,” “greedy” and “crazy.” Those would be three of the top four words Democrats use to describe Republicans.

And “socialist,” “idiots,” “liars” and our favorite — “suck.” Those are a choice few of the top words used by Republicans to describe Democrats.

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Partisanship doesn’t seem worse. It is worse.

Partisanship in America is at a 25-year high, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, with the majority of that movement to the two ideological extremes coming in just the last decade.


MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 01: Supporters of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett attend a Get Out The Vote Rally for Barrett who is trying to unseat Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a recall election on June 1, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
In 1999, the average percentage point difference between Republicans and Democrats on 48 values question in Pew polling was 11 percent. (In 1997, it was just a nine-percent difference.) By 2012, that difference had soared to 18 points.

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