The Center Cannot Hold

AP US Government and Politics

How much ideological overlap is there between U.S. House Democrats and Republicans?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What political ideology is most associated with each of the parties?

  3. What is one trend you see in the data?

  4. What are two causes of this trend?

  5. What is one consequence of this trend?

  6. Is this good news for the average American?

  7. What question do you have about this chart?

  8. In 2012 there were only 11 members of the House of Representatives who had overlapping ideology. What part of the country or type of district do you think these crossover House members are from?

  9. How does ideological overlap in the U.S. Senate compare to the overlap in the U.S. House?

  10. How does ideological overlap in the U.S. Congress compare to the overlap in the U.S. population?

  11. Explain how the trend from the chart above affects the ability of the president to govern.

  12. Imagine that the Supreme Court declares gerrymandering unconstitutional and forces state legislatures to appoint independent panels to redraw all districts without gerrymandering. Explain how the data in the chart would change in the next ungerrymandered congress?

  13. Gerrymandering was named after Elbridge Gerry. Four decades from now, when political scientists use the term Trumping what will it mean? Submit your answer in the comments section below!

  14. How will the Trump administration impact the level of polarization in the future?

  15. If you extrapolate from the data, how many crossover votes do you imagine there will be in 2020?

  16. In the comments section, explain the connection between the data and the fact that less than 10% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing:

Take Our Survey
Take Our Survey
I approve of the job Congress is doing.

Visual Extension*

Learning Extension

Read this Pew Research Center report on political polarization. Or watch this BBC video about polarization.

Action Extension

Take the Pew Political Typology Quiz and then compare your results to your Congressional Representative's ideology scorecard.

Our World In Data Extension

Animals in Clothes Extension