If you live in Post Falls and drive 6 miles into Washington, you have just crossed the Great Divide. What an incredibly different political environment. You have left Idaho, in which the governor and all elected state officials, both U.S. senators and both congressmen, are Republicans. The state Legislature is GOP-controlled, and marijuana sales and gay marriage are illegal.
You enter Washington, in which the governor, both U.S. senators, six out of 10 congressional representatives, and a small majority of state legislators are Democrats. Marijuana sales are legal, as is gay marriage. Could there be two adjoining states with such a political dichotomy?
A recent study by Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University, shows party loyalty has reached the highest level in the history of survey research, and ticket splitting the lowest. “Since 1972, Republicans have moved much further right than Democrats have moved left. Republicans are now a predominantly conservative party, while Democrats remain a coalition of liberals and moderates,” he says.
From these statistics, it is clear, says columnist William A. Galston, “The U.S. government has become dysfunctional and there is a shared responsibility to fix it. This will not happen unless the people insist.”