The Myth of the Political Spectrum

A political science professor and a journalist have an interesting piece in this morning’s Washington Post entitled “The Myth of the Middle.” They aim to refute the notion that the 2006 election showed the public wanted bipartisanship, and they cite polling data to show that Americans are just as divided as their representatives in Congress.

The visual representation of the nation’s voters isn’t a nicely shaped bell, with most voters in the moderate middle. It’s a sharp V.

I think there is a legitimate question who is following and who is leading on this one, but I do not think the one-dimensional, left-center-right way of viewing the electorate is very useful. Journalists and political scientists seem to love it, but I have questioned that metaphor for at least 20 years, ever since I noticed liberal and conservative judges making common cause on civil liberties issues. Read the rest of this entry »