Moderation in Everything Except House Races

Who is more likely to win U.S. House races, moderate or strongly ideological candidates?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does the chart tell?

  3. If the trend from the chart continues, what will this chart look like in 20 years?

  4. If your teacher told you that in american politics moderates tend to win over extremists, they are correct (about the past), and are saying exactly what I have taught my students. but our most recent research shows that now (since 2012) things have changed and extremists are more likely to beat moderates. Why do you think that is?

  5. What are two consequences of the trend from the chart?

  6. Explain if this data would be similar in Senate elections.

  7. Explain if this data would be similar in Presidential elections.

  8. In what way does the data mirror your experience of House elections in your district, state, or any House election you have followed nationally?

  9. Explain whether the amount of legislation passed in the House would be likely to increase or decrease as House members become more ideologically extreme.

  10. Imagine a law were passed banning gerrymandering. How would this impact the data form the chart?

  11. List some examples of very ideological politicians winning recent elections:

  12. Explain What, to you, moderate means, and whether moderate is a good thing or a bad thing.

  13. Explain whether moderates or extremists are more likely to compromise.

  14. Explain whether this data is good news for the stability of the American political system?

  15. What questions do you have about this data?

  16. Political scientists have found that one reason America is becoming more radical is because it is becoming more racially divided (see chart below).* What is the connection between racialization and political radicalization?

  17. Michael Tesler, a political scientist at the University of California-Irvine and the author of the 2016 book “Post Racial or Most Racial,” writes: “Democratic and Republican voters do not simply disagree about what the government should do on racially charged issues like immigration and affirmative action, they now inhabit increasingly separate realities about race in America.” What does this mean?

  18. Can you think of examples where people of differing political worldviews (maybe in this very class) actually disagreed on reality (particularly regarding race)?

  19. Ryan Enos, a Harvard political scientist notes that The pull of racial attitudes seems to be moving both directions — so that racial conservatives are being drawn into the GOP and racial liberals are being drawn into the Democratic Party. Because of demographic trends in america, Which party will benefit the most from this polarization?

  20. Can you think of anything (governmental or non—governmental) that could give people a more shared sense of reality and a less racially divided worldview?

Visual Extension*

Learning Extension

Read this editorial by Thomas B. Edsall about radicalization and The Deepening ‘Racialization’ of American Politics

Action Extension

Contact your U.S. House member and ask them to explain 1-whether they are a moderate and 2-whether compromise is a good thing. Share their response in class or online.

Our World in Data Extension

Animals Wearing Clothes Extension