The Divide Within Our Parties is Almost as Wide as that Between Them

Pew's new typology shows the diversity of both US political parties.

Dave Schuler points me to Pew’s latest update to their political typology, the eighth revision to a decades-long project derived from their  American Trends Panel. The premise:

Partisan polarization remains the dominant, seemingly unalterable condition of American politics. Republicans and Democrats agree on very little – and when they do, it often is in the shared belief that they have little in common.

Yet the gulf that separates Republicans and Democrats sometimes obscures the divisions and diversity of views that exist within both partisan coalitions – and the fact that many Americans do not fit easily into either one.

Republicans are divided on some principles long associated with the GOP: an affinity for businesses and corporations, support for low taxes and opposition to abortion. Democrats face substantial internal differences as well – some that are long-standing, such as on the importance of religion in society, others more recent. For example, while Democrats widely share the goal of combating racial inequality in the United States, they differ on whether systemic change is required to achieve that goal.

These intraparty disagreements present multiple challenges for both parties: They complicate the already difficult task of governing in a divided nation. In addition, to succeed politically, the parties must maintain the loyalty of highly politically engaged, more ideological voters, while also attracting support among less engaged voters – many of them younger – with weaker partisan ties.

Pew Research Center’s new political typology provides a road map to today’s fractured political landscape. It segments the public into nine distinct groups, based on an analysis of their attitudes and values. The study is primarily based on a survey of 10,221 adults conducted July 8-18, 2021; it also draws from several additional interviews with these respondents conducted since January 2020.

Graphically, it looks like this:

It’s shockingly hard to find a detailed breakdown of what each of these groups mean but here’s a very short summary:

The four Democratic-oriented typology groups highlight the party’s racial and ethnic diversity, as well as the unwieldy nature of the current Democratic coalition. (For complete descriptions of all nine typology groups see Chapters 3-11; for profiles of the Democratic and Republican coalitions see Chapters 1 and 2 of this report.)

They include two very different groups of liberal Democrats: Progressive Left and Establishment Liberals. Progressive Left, the only majority White, non-Hispanic group of Democrats, have very liberal views on virtually every issue and support far-reaching changes to address racial injustice and expand the social safety net. Establishment Liberals, while just as liberal in many ways as Progressive Left, are far less persuaded of the need for sweeping change.

Two other Democratic-aligned groups could not be more different from each other, both demographically and in their relationship to the party. Democratic Mainstays, the largest Democratic-oriented group, as well as the oldest on average, are unshakeable Democratic loyalists and have a moderate tilt on some issues. Outsider Left, the youngest typology group, voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden a year ago and are very liberal in most of their views, but they are deeply frustrated with the political system – including the Democratic Party and its leaders.

The four Republican-oriented groups include three groups of conservatives: Faith and Flag Conservatives are intensely conservative in all realms; they are far more likely than all other typology groups to say government policies should support religious values and that compromise in politics is just “selling out on what you believe in.” Committed Conservatives also express conservative views across the board, but with a somewhat softer edge, particularly on issues of immigration and America’s place in the world. Populist Right, who have less formal education than most other typology groups and are among the most likely to live in rural areas, are highly critical of both immigrants and major U.S. corporations.

Ambivalent Right, the youngest and least conservative GOP-aligned group, hold conservative views about the size of government, the economic system and issues of race and gender. But they are the only group on the political right in which majorities favor legal abortion and say marijuana should be legal for recreational and medical use. They are also distinct in their views about Donald Trump – while a majority voted for him in 2020, most say they would prefer he not continue to be a major political figure.

The only typology group without a clear partisan orientation – Stressed Sideliners – also is the group with the lowest level of political engagement. Stressed Sideliners, who make up 15% of the public but constituted just 10% of voters in 2020, have a mix of conservative and liberal views but are largely defined by their minimal interest in politics.

I’ve taken the quiz and it places me in the Ambivalent Right, which makes some sense given that I spent decades voting Republican but have become a reluctant Democratic voter the last two presidential cycles. It’s amusing, though, that, having just turned 56, I’m aligned with the youngest group. But, frankly, I’m dubious of the validity of the quiz, given that it’s mostly binary and my actual views on most of the questions are more complex than the options provided allowed.

Just reading the short descriptions, I don’t really fit into any of the groups. Dave, whose politics are even harder to pin down than mine, has a similar reaction:

After reading their descriptions I don’t feel that I fit comfortably into any of those groups. My political views have been aptly characterized as “eclectic”. I don’t fit the profile of “Stressed Sideliners” although I have much in common with them and I have some basic disagreements with with “Democratic Mainstays” although I have much in common with them as well. My views are even more different from the other groups.

A more detailed description of the Ambivalent Right shows my, well, ambivalence to the category.

On issues ranging from the size of the federal government to views about business, gender and race, Ambivalent Right hold many views that are largely consistent with core conservative values. Yet they also hold more moderate stances on several social issues and differ from some other segments of the GOP coalition in taking a more internationalist view of foreign policy and a less restrictive position on immigration.

Ambivalent Right are a GOP-leaning group as a whole – 68% identify as or lean Republican – and they make up a substantial share of all Republicans and GOP leaners (18%). But this group also includes a significant number of Democrats: A quarter of Ambivalent Right either identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, and a similar share (25%) voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

So, potentially me. I’m definitely more internationalist and pro-immigration than most of the modern GOP but more moderate on social issues than most of the Democratic leadership.

With 63% of Ambivalent Right adults under the age of 50, they are substantially younger than other Republican-oriented groups. About two-thirds (65%) are White, 17% are Hispanic, 8% are Black and 5% are Asian, making this group more racially and ethnically diverse than other GOP coalition groups.

So, I’m white and, while over 50, not by that much. And I’m much more engaged in a reexamination of my assumptions than most people my age by virtue of what I do for a living and the constant dialogue of running a political blog for nearly two decades.

Ambivalent Right differ from other GOP-aligned groups with their support for legal abortion and less negative views of the impact of same-sex marriage. They also are distinct from other Republican-oriented groups in their views of Donald Trump. Whereas large majorities of each of the other Republican-oriented groups say they feel warmly toward Trump, Ambivalent Right are somewhat more likely to say they feel coldly toward the former president (46%) than warmly (34%). And most (63%) would not like to see Trump continue to be a major national political figure for many years to come.

I’m much more ambivalent about abortion than hard-core partisans of either side but tend to think it should be legal, especially early in the pregnancy. And I’m decidedly anti-Trump.

Ambivalent Right have also largely rejected the unsubstantiated claim from Trump and others that Trump was the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election. Roughly six-in-ten say that Biden definitely or probably received the most votes cast by eligible voters in enough states to win the 2020 election – more than double the share of the Ambivalent Right who voted for Biden, and far higher than the shares in other Republican-aligned groups.

Also me.

Ambivalent Right do not feel very warmly toward either Republicans or Democrats. On a “feeling thermometer” ranging from 0-100, where 100 represents the warmest feelings and 0 represents the coldest feelings, Ambivalent Right give Republicans an average rating of 43. Ambivalent Right are cooler toward Democrats, with an average rating of 34. While some of their coolness toward the GOP reflects that 25% of this group are Democrats and Democratic leaners, even Ambivalent Right who identify with or lean to the GOP give Republicans an average feeling thermometer rating of 49, similar to ratings among the group as a whole; the average rating of Democrats (30) is also similar.

I don’t really know how to answer these questions but gave Dems a 40 and Republicans a 30. I could answer that differently a week from now, though, and am not really sure what it means.

Ambivalent Right are less politically engaged than groups with stronger partisan attachments. About half of eligible Ambivalent Right (55%) voted in the 2020 election, 11 percentage points lower than the share of all adult citizens who voted. Ambivalent Right are also less likely than most other groups to say they follow what’s going on in government and politics most of the time.

That, of course, is my biggest departure. I’m ambivalent about the options on offer but more engaged than most normal people—by quite a lot—and haven’t missed voting in a national election since becoming eligible almost 40 years ago.

On core issues related to the size and role of government, Ambivalent Right hold views that are traditionally associated with the GOP: Most (63%) say that government regulation of business usually does more harm than good, and nearly three-quarters (73%) prefer a smaller government providing fewer services to a bigger government providing more services.

I tend toward less regulation and more services at this point but it really depends on the issue.

They are also somewhat less religiously affiliated: 27% are religiously unaffiliated, compared with 20% of Populist Right, 18% of Committed Conservatives and just 6% of Faith and Flag Conservatives.

Even when I was a much stronger Republican partisan, I was not religious.

They are similar to the general population on both household income and education: 28% live in lower-income households (compared with 31% of all U.S. adults), 48% live in middle-income households (vs. 47% of all adults) and 19% live in upper-income households (vs. 17% of all adults). About a third (35%) have a college degree, roughly the same share as among the adult population overall (32%).

I’m not sure where middle- and upper-income are on their scales, considering that under 50 is “young.” And I do have a college degree or three.

Ambivalent Right are less likely than other Republican-oriented groups to turn to Fox News for their political news. Half report getting news from Fox News over the course of a week, compared with at least six-in-ten or more in each of the other Republican-oriented groups.

Also me.

So, considering that the categorization is based on a quiz that I took in less than two minutes and where I could have gone either way on at least a couple of questions, not too bad.

Dave also observes,

I do wonder if the members of the Progressive Left who certainly seem to have the whip hand in crafting federal Democratic policy these days recognize what a small proportion of the American people they comprise? I suspect that either they don’t care or believe against all evidence that there are many, many more members of of their group out there than actually exist.

But, of course, that’s true of the leadership of both parties. Indeed, if one adds Faith and Flag Conservatives, Committed Conservatives, and the Populist Right together, they account for only 28 percent of Americans. And, while I would say that Committed Conservatives seem to predominate amount policymakers, the Populist Right, representing only 11 percent of the country, has a de facto veto power on candidate selection.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Kylopod says:

    I took this quiz a few weeks ago, but just to be sure I took it again just now. I come out Progressive Left–though I did answer to favoring free trade and to considering people being too easily offended a “minor problem.”

  2. It’s almost as if our national politics are not well served by a strict two-party system…

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  3. members of the Progressive Left who certainly seem to have the whip hand in crafting federal Democratic policy these days

    But do they, really?

    Is the infrastructure bill reflective of the Progresive Left?

    Is BBB? (which likely won’t be passed).

    I would note that the pandemic bailout bills had GOP support as well (as did the infrastructure bill, for that matter).

    Where is the evidence of the Progressive Left actually driving the bus (or, I guess, the cart since they have the alleged whip-hand?).

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  4. MarkedMan says:

    It’s interesting that the farthest edges of the parties is where the difference is. Almost a quarter of the Republicans are at the extremes, while only one eighth of the Dems live there. And it appears that difference comes from the next level. The remaining levels appear to make up the same amount of either party.

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  5. gVOR08 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Where is the evidence of the Progressive Left actually driving the bus (or, I guess, the cart since they have the alleged whip-hand?).

    The evidence is all over the supposedly liberal MSM, who do love their Dems-in-Disarray stories. Biden and Pelosi are boring. AOC and Ilhan Omar are better click bait. And better targets for FOX et al. Even though they’re basically back-benchers.

    I came out as an Establishment Liberal, which is, I guess, reasonable. But I did get the impression their classifications, and their questions, came more from reading headlines than from parsing their data. And I hate the “bigger government” thing. It’s basically accepting GOP framing. For liberals the actual issues are seldom “should government be bigger” but should we support or oppose this specific measure. For that matter, for the conservative donors who have the “whip hand’ in their party it’s also not should government be bigger. But they can’t say publicly “my rich guy taxes should be even lower” so they talk about “big gummit”.

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  6. Kathy says:

    I’ve said before the Democrats represent a wide spectrum from left to right (albeit more loaded leftwards), while the Republicans represent the full spectrum of wrong.

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  7. Modulo Myself says:

    The quiz is 20 questions or so, all of which simplistic and leading. It’s not real, and there’s no data here.

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  8. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    The quiz has me pegged as “outsider left” which is probably not as surprising for me as it should be, but I clearly see the problems that are arising out of the choices offered. More than half of the total questions had choices where neither option (nor any in an array) was satisfactory (I almost quit after the fourth consecutive question where I was selecting a position that didn’t really represent my opinion in any real way). It’s better than nothing as a tool but pretty blunt as instruments go. The Libertarian Party’s “Are you a Libertarian?” test had better arrays of choices available.

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  9. Tony W says:

    Division within the parties affects D’s goals much more than R’s – Democrats are continually trying to build up programs and infrastructure, while Republicans tend to obstruct and prevent progress – coming from a mindset that everything is already great (I got mine!!!), so why would we make any changes?

    It’s far easier to get a group together to say “No” – even if they disagree on why they are saying “no”, than it is to get a group on the same page to build up a program with different visions, and sometimes different goals, for the program.

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  10. Sleeping Dog says:

    Yesterday’s NYTs had an article on abortion and how the attitudes towards it among self identified members of the Dem and R parties, is far more nuanced and with significant overlap, than the parties stated positions. I believe that this dichotomy exists on many issues, lending credence to the idea that party membership is a cultural phenomenon rather than an ideological one.

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  11. Dude Kembro says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: America does not have a strict two-party system. There are many parties, most of which fail to attract membership.

    And arguably, the Democratic and Republican parties are they themselves comprised of multiple smaller parties. Splitting them would solve no existing problem in governance, as the exact same coalitions now in gridlock confict would remain so split apart.

  12. Mister Bluster says:

    I give up. How do I take The Quiz.
    Or have I flunked it already?

  13. ptfe says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Having the whip-hand on the bus is actually a pretty apt description.

    I was also struck by this comment, as it sounds like something a person heavily influenced by Republicans over the last 40 years would say about Democratic Party policies. Requests for elaboration will usually be followed up with examples of people being asked not to tell tasteless ’80s jokes or call people “retarded”, and tales of small businesses having to fill out stacks of paperwork created specifically for the purpose of regulatory capture. The complaint is always that Those Damn Hippies Are In Charge, whether it’s true or not.

    If anything, in my lifetime, Democratic politics have become distinctly more pro-corporation/pro-war, but only sparingly more progressive. Sops to the Left are generally things like gun regulation and government-backed pro-rights/pro-diversity pushes (language accessibility, same-sex marriage equality, disability rights, trans rights, etc.) And these are unambiguously good, but they’re slight. The Right, meanwhile, presses every instance of anyone suggesting maybe we should be more considerate of others as “Democrats gone mad!” Turns out a lot of people are willing to embrace that narrative.

    In my adult years, we have not reduced military spending, substantially increased corporate or wealth taxes, enacted single-payer HC, reduced college costs, or even raised the federal minimum wage. Unions and labor are weakened, untaxed religious entities run rampant grift programs and push political causes, environmental regulations have changed our pollution profile in only marginal ways, and our security apparatus has grown substantially and secretively under both Republican and Democratic presidents. Wealth inequality has grown consistently, homelessness is still a huge problem, and our general solution to this has been to increase the size of a largely unchecked but successfully ignored disaster of a prison system.

    Any of these makes for easy Progressive political fodder, but in spite of owning the entire federal government several times in the last 40 years, Democrats have not really engaged them. The ACA was the closest we came to “Progressive”, and 90% of the Progressive bits of that were gone within the first month of debate. At the state level, changes move more quickly, but Jesus h-bar Christ, we can’t even get marijuana federally legalized!

    To believe the “Progressive Left” is in charge is to live in a fantasy land.

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  14. CSK says:
  15. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    This whole thing seems to still be regarding the Republican Party as a serious political party.
    So clearly the methodology is flawed.

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  16. Kylopod says:

    @Dude Kembro:

    America does not have a strict two-party system. There are many parties, most of which fail to attract membership.

    Name one that has a member in Congress. (The occasional indies like Bernie Sanders and Angus King don’t count.) Even relative two-party systems such as the UK have some seats in Parliament represented by third-party members.

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  17. Scott F. says:

    American political typology has never been simpler in my lifetime, in my humble opinion. Pro-democracy – Yea or Nay?

    Until such time as the US reverses the antidemocratic direction of our country’s political institutions, I will be a single-issue voter. And on voting rights there is no partisan divide on the left and a small partisan divide on the right into which a wedge must be hammered day and night. All other political considerations are secondary (and unsurprisingly irresolvable) until the country decides whether it wants to remain a democratic republic.

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  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    Establishment Liberal, here. I must say the idea that I’m part of anyone’s establishment is wryly amusing, but OK, sure, why not stand around and let someone draw parentheses around me.

    I did not find the questions on-point, more a series of, ‘well, I kinda feel that way. . .’ I’m not sure questions stripped of all detail and nuance are really very useful. What’s missing, among other things, is the question of intensity. Where do single-issue voters come into it? You can be all in favor of trans rights, for example, but always vote pro-gun, regardless of other issues.

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  19. gVOR08 says:

    @Tony W:

    It’s far easier to get a group together to say “No” – even if they disagree on why they are saying “no”, than it is to get a group on the same page to build up a program with different visions, and sometimes different goals, for the program.

    Especially so in an antiquated system with so many veto points.

    2
  20. Jen says:

    @Kylopod: I thought “wait a minute” at that too, but it’s probably a fair description considering the wide variations under the two-party umbrella, which is basically the point of the Pew survey.

    We have two parties, but how those two parties are interpreted varies widely–so widely in fact that it’s almost ridiculous to assert that there are only two parties. A classic Northeastern Republican is not the same as a Midwest Republican, neither of which are the same as a Trump Republican. Same with the Democrats.

    1
  21. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott F.:

    American political typology has never been simpler in my lifetime, in my humble opinion. Pro-democracy – Yea or Nay?

    I’d go so far as to say Sane – Yea or Nay? When Rove, or whoever, said Faith Based and Reality Based, he wasn’t kidding.

    1
  22. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    Thank you. I’ve been pointing this put for a while now.

    I suspect that a fair number of Trumpkins never bothered to vote before he lumbered onto the scene. Actually, I did read an article in which it was stated that this was the case in Mississippi.

    1
  23. Dude Kembro says:

    @Kylopod:

    Name one that has a member in Congress.

    To quote myself, “…most of which fail to attract membership.” If a party is not seated in a legislature, in the US or anywhere, that’s because its candidates failed to attract votes.

    If there’s fruit bowl at the party with six different kinds of fruit, and everyone chooses to eat oranges and/or pineapples because the other fruit sucks, we still don’t get to insist there’s only two kinds of fruit there.

    Not to mention that the Democratic and Republican parties themselves resemble multiparty coalitions.

    1
  24. EddieInCA says:

    Wow… I’m the base of the base…

    Democratic Mainstays

    Democratic Mainstays make up a larger share of the Democratic coalition than any other group. Older than other Democratic-oriented groups, they also have the highest share of Black non-Hispanic adults of any political typology group, and six-in-ten are women. They generally favor policies that expand the social safety net and support higher taxes on corporations, but they have a moderate tilt on other issues, including immigration and crime. Nearly half consider themselves “strong Democrats,” and they are generally positive about the Democratic Party and its leaders.

    4
  25. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..Try this.

    Thank you.

  26. @Dude Kembro:

    America does not have a strict two-party system. There are many parties, most of which fail to attract membership.

    Electorally we have a strict two-party system. Indeed, it is one of the strictest in the world.

    Stating that we have a multi-party system, except for the fact that no one joins or votes for those parties is like me saying I have a bookshelf full of books that I have written because I have ideas for those books.

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  27. @Dude Kembro:

    If there’s a fruit bowl at the party with six different kinds of fruit, and everyone chooses to eat oranges and/or pineapples, you still don’t get to falsely claim there’s only two fruits there when we can plainly see that’s not the case.

    No, but if the fruit salad in question is 49.9999 parts apple and 49.99999 parts orange it is a bit foolish to act like it is chock full of cherries.

    5
  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    @ptfe:

    To believe the “Progressive Left” is in charge is to live in a fantasy land.

    Sure, if your metric is enacted policies, but wrong because enacted policies are not the only or even most relevant metric in a polarized environment. If a moderate Republican comes to my door to recruit me, what am I going to say? Look at the people you’re in bed with, look at the liars and grifters and nuts and outright traitors. Get rid of them and maybe we can talk.

    The flip side is a moderate Democrat trying to reach a moderate Republican. Look at the people you’re in bed with, look at the contempt for religion, look at the denial of gender as a thing, look at the incessant moaning and the canceling and the endless battle to climb to the top of Woke Mountain. Get rid of them and maybe we can talk.

    We paint pictures, we present a face, an image to the world, and for the Left that image is painted by Progressives, just as the Right is defined by MAGAts. Both Democrats and Republicans are defined (to admittedly different degrees) by our extremes.

    4
  29. Kylopod says:

    @Dude Kembro:

    To quote myself, “…most of which fail to attract membership.” If a party is not seated in a legislature, in the US or anywhere, it’s because its candidates have failed to attract votes.

    It isn’t just a failure to attract votes, it it because the system is set up to prevent other parties from gaining a foothold. If a party in Israel wins 20% of the vote, it is guaranteed 20% of the seats in the Knesset. If a party gets 20% in the US across the board, it probably gets nothing. And that, in turn, disincentivizes third parties from even trying to build up their support, knowing how steep a climb they have to gaining even minuscule power.

    4
  30. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Absolutely. And the regional difference, as Jen pointed out upthread, just exacerbate this.

    1
  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Yesterday’s NYTs had an article on abortion and how the attitudes towards it among self identified members of the Dem and R parties, is far more nuanced and with significant overlap, than the parties stated positions.

    This kind of goes to my hobby horse: it doesn’t matter what the vast majority of party members believe, it only matters what the most committed party members believe. The 70% in the middle are going to just kind of go along. Almost all of the movement comes from the controlling fringe.

  32. inhumans99 says:

    Wow, this actually surprised me, my result is Stressed Sideliners.

    I have been saying that I feel like my views are more in line with someone who is independent and not willing to simply declare that I fall 100% in line with what Democrats or Republicans espouse, and this quiz seems to validate my belief that I do not fall squarely into one Political camp or another.

    Interesting and food for thought.

    2
  33. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: A better example might be a tool bag that has a pliers, a hammer, and then a bunch of pictures of other potential tools. You can talk about how useful those tools would be if they were real, but you can’t do anything with them.

    2
  34. Mister Bluster says:

    And the results are in:

    Democratic Mainstay

    I do vote for Democrats.
    However I always tell people that I am an Anarchist.

  35. Jen says:

    @Dude Kembro:

    If a party is not seated in a legislature, in the US or anywhere, that’s because its candidates failed to attract votes.

    It’s far more complicated than that. Ballot access rules vary, but parties can’t just pop up and end up on the ballot. In some states you’re required to have county structures with a chair, vice chair, secretary, and treasurer. Organizing a political party just to gain access to a state ballot can itself be very cumbersome and time-consuming.

    Our system reinforces a 2-party system. I don’t know if this is because of an American obsession with binary options, or if it’s a result of the way our Constitution is set up (e.g., the electoral college), but it’s been demonstrated that simply having more choices doesn’t result in wins. In fact, in Maine, the execrable Gov. LePage was elected the first time with less than 30% of the vote because he got “the most votes” in a field of 5 candidates.

    1
  36. Sleeping Dog says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Almost all of the movement comes from the controlling fringe.

    Can’t say that I disagree with that, which is why party membership is cultural and not ideological. Under a different system, both the Dems and R’s would likely fracture as the absurdities of their coalitions would become more defining, while the opportunity to govern would open up.

  37. CSK says:

    Kanye West ran for the presidency in 2020 on the Birthday Party ticket.

    There’s also something called The Guns and Dope Party.

  38. Mister Bluster says:

    politics1(dot)com
    A list of USA political parties.

    The list includes 31 political parties that have fielded candidates recently in addition to the Republican and Democratic parties. Along with nine political parties that have not yet been on a ballot.
    I do not see Tea Party on any list here.

  39. Mu Yixiao says:

    I’ve mentioned this before:

    The Presidency is pretty much locked into a 2-party system. However, the House is wide open to candidates from 3rd parties.

    3rd Party House Candidates

    Ignoring the US Territories, there’s quite a few 3rd party candidates who are pulling more than 20% of the vote in their district (which is a good showing in what becomes a 3-way race), and there are a lot of them who came in 2nd place.

    There’s absolutely no systematic reason that Representatives can’t be elected from third parties and make the house more mixed.

    Getting that to happen in the Senate would take more time and a greater shift in attitudes, but it’s still possible.

    The main obstacle is inertia–and that seems to be breaking up a bit as (as shown in the poll above) the intra-party differences start to make breaking away more attractive.

  40. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod:

    If a party in Israel wins 20% of the vote, it is guaranteed 20% of the seats in the Knesset.

    Israel is the poster child for what can happen with that type of multiparty system. It is effectively an apartheid state, because of the need to attract the small Settler parties to form a coalition. It lets a tiny group of rabbis control who gets married, and divorced, and who is allowed to call themselves a Jew, because of the need to attract the small Ultra-orthodox parties to form a coalition. Their are hundreds, thousands, of examples of the ordinary majority having their lives upended so the larger parties could get another vote or two in the Knesset. Every time I hear someone talk about how bad our two party system is I immediately think of Israel.

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  41. Gustopher says:

    Apparently, I am Outsider Left, which seems wrong. Perhaps it just means “reads too much into questions.”

    For instance, after “If America is too open to people from all over the world, we risk losing our identity as a nation,” I was expecting a follow up of “Would losing our identity as a nation a good thing or a bad thing?” — I just wanted to bring in so many immigrants that they overwhelm the white supremacist core of this nation, and instead, the test probably thought I am a white supremacist.

    And the big government question makes little sense. But I knew what the “right” answer was.

  42. ptfe says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I mean, the image here is “this is who’s controlling it”, which is to say, it’s entirely ludicrous to think that Left Twitter is forcing everyone to accept Progressivism (as it’s defined today) when we can’t even get rudimentary climate change action.

    Republican policies have been driven by Evangelicals, everything from the kabuki of supporting hard-line Zionists in Israel to reseating SCOTUS to eliminate Roe. Republican policies have been forged by White Supremacists, from massive funding boosts for ICE to easy support for Wars on Browns. National political figures suck up to these groups, but they also write laws to protect their weird attachment to non-reality-based worldviews.

    Progressives? They’re a fly in the ointment for mainstream Democrats, but they’re easily worked around.

    4
  43. KM says:

    @Gustopher:
    I took it a couple of times to see how tweaking my answers ended up. Vacillated between Progressive Left and Establishment Liberals. It seems the main dividing line was Greatly Expand Services vs Moderately Expand Services in the Bigger Gov question – you answer “Greatly Expand” and you’re pegged as Progressive Left 9 times out of 10. Some questions seem to presume they indicate a specific mindset/ belief so I’m not surprised it assumed something potentially racist about “risking a national identity” in a country historically founded by immigrants and colonists.

    1
  44. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    But I knew what the “right” answer was.

    That’s why tests like this are bullshit.

    Q: When driving do you sometimes fantasize about rear-ending a Prius while raising a middle finger and screaming, ‘fuck your mileage, step on it, you smug, slow-ass motherfucker?’

    I mean, I know I’m supposed to answer that, ‘No.’

    1
  45. Gustopher says:

    @Gustopher: And now, answering what I think I am supposed to answer based on the overly-simple questions, I am a mainstay Democrat. Which again, seems wrong.

    I would expect either Progressive or Establishment Liberal, and could keep taking the test, trying to figure out what the “right” answers to the questions are, but I have work to do. But it’s not very compelling work.

    I think it’s not a very good quiz. Or I am an amazingly unique individual who cannot be categorized well. The first seems more likely though.

  46. Sleeping Dog says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I had a similar though but felt it wasn’t germane to@Kylopod: point. Functioning parliamentary systems, and Israel’s isn’t, have a minimum vote requirement that demonstrates that the party has a broad base of support. IIRC, it is 15% in the UK.

    2
  47. ptfe says:

    @Gustopher: I think this quiz’s unofficial motto is “Get with the binary or get bent.” (I landed in Outsider Left as well. I still have hopes for that sweet Flag & Country Right assignment!)

    1
  48. @Mu Yixiao: In theory, both the presidency and the congress are open to third party competitors. But the structural conditions create extremely strong incentives toward two parties.

    3
  49. @MarkedMan: Israel is less exemplar than it is one end of the spectrum: it has a highly proportional system that very much incentivized small party formation and therefore has a fragmented party system.

    2
  50. @Sleeping Dog:

    Functioning parliamentary systems, and Israel’s isn’t, have a minimum vote requirement that demonstrates that the party has a broad base of support. IIRC, it is 15% in the UK.

    Some countries do have legal electoral thresholds to filter out very small parties–Germany has one, for example. It would be highly unusual for one to be 15% (and I am not sure what you are referring to in the UK in any event, as the UK, while parliamentary, does not use PR, but elects parliament in single seat plurality districts).

    And Israel does have a functional parliamentary system.

    1
  51. @Mu Yixiao:

    there’s quite a few 3rd party candidates who are pulling more than 20% of the vote in their district (which is a good showing in what becomes a 3-way race), and there are a lot of them who came in 2nd place.

    The ones coming in second almost certainly are running against an R or D who would otherwise be unopposed. More likely than not what you are seeing there is a noncompetitive district wherein the 3rd party candidate is a residual category. You aren’t seeing truly competitive candidates in those cases.

    1
  52. @Mu Yixiao:

    The main obstacle is inertia

    The main obstacles to significant new party formation is the combination of primaries and plurality elections.

    Plurality elections tend to drive the number of competitors downward, it is just basic math. In countries with more than two competitive parties and single-seat plurality, much of the variation is regions (e.g., Canada and the UK).

    Primaries take care of the rest of the impulse to form third parties because it is easier to compete in the R or D primary than to form a new party.

    (See, e.g., the Tea Party).

    It isn’t inertia, it is structure.

    4
  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Dude Kembro: I think that there’s a not actually running candidates for offices factor that you may be finessing. Some rando declaring himself to be a political party (and yes, I AM looking at Teddy Roosevelt at least partially when I say that) doesn’t make him a political party as much as a rando seeking office. Of the parties that I see, it seems to me that only the Greens and Libertarians have shots at making it to the big show beyond being part of the percentage that go in the “others” column, but I can’t see either party making it by running candidates only for national offices once every 2/4/6 years. It doesn’t make those parties seem credible. Those votes are effectively only votes for “none of the above.” It’s easier to stay at home if that’s what/who you’re voting for.

    If none of the above starts getting 25 or 30% in national polling, we can talk again.

  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: “Almost all of the movement comes from the controlling fringe.”

    Good point. And that fringe has over the years changed from being party regulars/apparatchik/established leaders to… well the mob, to be frank. Maybe there was something in this not letting just anybody vote thing the founders and ancients had going. I’m not going to advocate going back, but gravitation to the mean (pun intended) is a thing.

  55. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Some rando declaring himself to be a political party (and yes, I AM looking at Teddy Roosevelt at least partially when I say that) doesn’t make him a political party as much as a rando seeking office.

    The consistent pattern when it comes to significant third-party runs in presidential elections is (1) The cult of personality around whoever’s running overshadows the new party they’ve created (2) After the election is over, the party gets effectively absorbed into one or both of the major parties.

    You saw this with TR’s Progressive Party, Robert LaFollette’s Progressive Party, the two Dixiecrat parties in 1948 and 1968, and Perot’s Reform Party.

  56. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: And yet the Tea Party may well be the best organized and most national of them. A tribute to the power of money in American political life.

    1
  57. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: I went with not a very good test AND amazingly unique individual who cannot be categorized, but I’m probably more egomaniacal/a bigger twat than you are.

  58. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    I just wanted to bring in so many immigrants that they overwhelm the white supremacist core of this nation

    (Taking us down a tangent….) I don’t think this would have the outcome you desire. My experience with non-Americans is that, in general, they are more bigoted than your average American, sometimes appallingly so. Now, that’s not saying much about us, but it is saying a whole hell of a lot about other countries. For example, my Ghanaian friends (at least, the ones who live in Ghana), who have probably never met a Jew in their entire life and who are otherwise very open and very cosmopolitan have randomly dropped the foulest of stereotypes into their conversation without the least self consciousness. Heck, get an Ashanti and a Fanti going and they will tell you all about how they are fundamentally different in their natures despite the fact that they are essentially first cousins, tribally speaking. And of course they will both go off on the Ga. My Chinese colleagues could say the most cringing things about all kinds of ethnic groups, and of course the government, comprised mainly of Han, are essentially conducting ethnic cleansing against a minority based on that minorities “terrorist nature”. A lot of Chinese you meet in the street accept this without a thought. And don’t get me started on the Japanese. Their idea of racial purity is so strict the Chinese government has a whole professionally developed presentation that is given to the Chief Medical Officers of multinational medical device companies that painstakingly explains why the Japanese are so genetically distinct from anyone else that they cannot accept clinical studies done on non-Japanese. The CMO of my company was visibly shaken after that presentation.

    But you don’t even have to travel. A lot of Uber and Lyft drivers are immigrants, and I often get them talking about their lives here. A fair number have gone off on various minorities in the US, or dragged their beefs from their home country here. They are often puzzled when I push back, not angry. It’s like I’m telling them cars have no wheels or McDonald’s serve pizza. How could I be so ignorant?!

    3
  59. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Look at the people you’re in bed with, look at the contempt for religion, look at the denial of gender as a thing, look at the incessant moaning and the canceling and the endless battle to climb to the top of Woke Mountain. Get rid of them and maybe we can talk.

    We paint pictures, we present a face, an image to the world, and for the Left that image is painted by Progressives, just as the Right is defined by MAGAts.

    Who, exactly, is this “we” you refer to? The Right has FOX et al, the Kochtopus, and Trump to define their message and enforce message discipline. Who does that for Dems?

    Starting with your list, I don’t recall Biden, Pelosi, Harris, or actually any elected D, expressing contempt for religion. Are you ready to tell trans individuals that they need to use the bathroom on their birth cert and get beat up a lot? Black activists they should quietly accept their fellows being shot by cops? As to woke, I don’t know who to tell you to talk to, Bryn Mawr sophomores maybe? The fact is that GOPs and FOX are dedicated to attacking Dems. Short of disappearing nothing we do or don’t do will change that.

    And Jamelle Bouie would like a word.

    There was a battle for control of the Democratic Party, and the moderates won. They hold the power and they direct the message. But despite this victory, moderate Democrats and their allies can’t seem to take responsibility for the party’s fortunes. When faced with defeats — as they were last month when Terry McAuliffe fell to Glenn Youngkin in the race to succeed Ralph Northam as governor of Virginia — they blame the left. It’s the same song, each time. If progressives would just stop alienating the public, then they could make gains and put power back in Democratic hands. Somehow, the people in the passenger’s seat of the Democratic Party are always and forever responsible for the driver’s failure to reach their shared destination.

    After all, 2020 was not the first year that Democrats fell short of their expectations. They did so in 2010, when moderates had an even stronger grip on the party, as well as in 2014 and 2016. Here, again, I’ll echo Nwanevu. Despite pitching his administration to the moderate middle — despite his vocal critiques of “identity politics,” his enthusiastic patriotism and his embrace of the most popular Democratic policies on offer — Barack Obama could not arrest the Democratic Party’s slide with blue-collar voters. For the past decade, in other words, “the Democratic Party’s electoral prospects have been in decline for reasons unattributable to progressive figures and ideas that arrived on the political scene practically yesterday.”

    Perhaps the problem, then, lies less with the rhetoric (or existence) of progressive Democrats and more with any number of transformations in the material circumstances of American life and the response — or lack thereof — from the Democrats with the power to do something. What was the Democratic Party’s response to a generation of neoliberal economic restructuring? What was its response to the near-total collapse of private-sector unions? What was its response to the declining fortunes of American workers and the upward redistribution of American wealth?

    If and when Democrats lose one or both chambers of Congress — and when we all face the consequences of their failure — I am confident that we’ll hear, once again, how it’s everyone’s fault but their own.

    It ain’t The Squad that’s holding up Biden’s agenda and blocking voting reform.

    8
  60. Michael Reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:
    Apples and oranges. You’re contrasting Fox News with Nancy Pelosi. One is propaganda, the other is policy.

    Are you ready to tell trans individuals that they need to use the bathroom on their birth cert and get beat up a lot?

    Let me rephrase that for you.

    Are you ready to tell your daughter that they need to use the bathroom on their birth cert and get beat up a lot?

    The answer would be, no. And WTF does that rhetorical question have to do with how the Democratic Party is perceived and reacted to?

    FYI, the danger to my trans daughter, and to my Chinese daughter, is a main motivator for my concern that we are losing fights we don’t need to lose, alienating allies we need, and in general obsessing over trivialities that have nothing to do with protecting my kids, or housing the homeless, or feeding the hungry, or defending those who cannot defend themselves, or saving the fucking planet, which is how I define my politics.

    A total refusal to even contemplate the possibility that we, the good guys, may occasionally be wrong, along with this McCarthyite hunger to expose heretics and dissidents, is self destructive. The fact that the other side are far worse is not a justification for our own stupidities, rather it should be a spur to taking the threat seriously.

    2
  61. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Obviously, I wasn’t either.

    Any system that indulges the extremes in order to form a government and then takes four elections to do it, might qualify as barely functioning.

    1
  62. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Look at the people you’re in bed with, look at the contempt for religion,

    I am hard pressed to find someone with more contempt for religion than you, so I’m not sure what you’re complaining about there.

    Contempt for religion is pretty much your brand.

    4
  63. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Of the parties that I see, it seems to me that only the Greens and Libertarians have shots at making it to the big show beyond being part of the percentage that go in the “others” column, but I can’t see either party making it by running candidates only for national offices once every 2/4/6 years. It doesn’t make those parties seem credible. Those votes are effectively only votes for “none of the above.” It’s easier to stay at home if that’s what/who you’re voting for.

    I agree. Both G and L parties could make a splash if they spent more time at the local end of the ballot and pushed a grassroots change. And the Libertarians, at least, need to get their act together and create a solid platform built on simple, relatable planks–and then stick to it (they also need to stop nominating weirdos and loons, but that’s another story).

    If none of the above starts getting 25 or 30% in national polling, we can talk again.

    If you look at the Wikipedia link I posted above, there are “none of the above” that are getting >25% (excluding US Territories, where the parties are completely different). Oddly most of them seems to be in traditionally red states (Texas, Arizona, Kansas). Twice now, the independent candidate in Alaska earned mind-40s. It’s not a huge amount of candidates, but… it is happening.

    But again: Their focus should be on local and state assembly seats rather than national.

  64. Jen says:

    Another point on the Independents who are actually successful in getting elected…most of them have held elective office long enough that people know who they are and roughly how they are aligned…within the two-party structure.

    Bernie runs as a Democrat in the Vermont primary, then switches to Independent to run in the general election. Angus King was a Democrat but renounced the party before running for Governor of Maine (which he won in a 4-way race by getting 35% of the vote).

    I can’t think of any elected official who started out as an Independent with no prior affiliation.

  65. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    Is the approaching solstice making people slow?

    Yes, I was a noisy atheist before noisy atheists were a thing. But I’m not the template for, well, anything, and I’ve never pretended otherwise. I tend to be a bomb thrower. Bomb throwers are useful – in small doses. Unfortunately, thanks to social media, way too many people horned in on my thing. When it’s bomb throwers all the way down, nothing good comes of it.

    For the record I also lock my doors and have a security system despite having been a thief. I know! The hypocrisy!

    4
  66. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    (they also need to stop nominating weirdos and loons, but that’s another story)

    You know, this about sums up why you and I have such disparate views of Libertarians. You see the weirdos and loons, and think they are a mistake. I see the weirdos and loons and think they are the Libertarian Party.

    I’m not picking an argument here, and am not making any claim as to who is right or wrong. But I think this is indicative of a lot of arguments. For years I said, “The Republican Party is fundamentally racist” and Dr. Joyner said “No it isn’t”, despite the fact that we were in agreement about all the facts on hand. It’s just that I looked at the racism and thought, “that’s who their leadership is” and he looked at it and thought, “Man, I wish my party would stop making such stupid mistakes.” In the event, I think my view was closer to how the Republican Party is today, but at the time it was certainly conceivable that I was farther from the truth than he was.

    5
  67. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan:

    You know, this about sums up why you and I have such disparate views of Libertarians. You see the weirdos and loons, and think they are a mistake. I see the weirdos and loons and think they are the Libertarian Party.

    This was exactly my reaction but I thought maybe it’s just the special brand of Libertarian we have here in New Hampshire due to the Free State Project.

    Thankfully they’ve been balanced out enough with Massachusetts residents moving just over the border for less expensive housing.

  68. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan:

    You see the weirdos and loons, and think they are a mistake. I see the weirdos and loons and think they are the Libertarian Party.

    I think weirdos and loons are a natural byproduct of any long-term third party in the US. The Greens are also filled with weirdos and loons (their 2008 nominee was Cynthia McKinney, a 9/11 truther). Why wouldn’t that be the case? Weirdos and loons are the ones most likely to be drawn to something as pointless as a third party; people who are actually serious about trying to affect change in the US know it can only be done via the two-party system (that’s even true of indies like Sanders and King, who still caucus with the Dems).

    5
  69. JohnSF says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    UK national elections (and local council) are pure first-past-the-post.
    Thresholds don’t come into it.

    Except a candidate must get 5% to avoid a “lost deposit”: the £500 registration fee to stand.
    A mild deterrent to frivolous candidate; and regarded as a humiliation by one of the “big” parties (Con, Lab, LibDem; and these days the nationalist parties on their home ground)

    There have been (EU) and are (devolved national) elections that use proportionality; but not sure if any of these had a 15% rule.

    UK is unusual (I think probably unique) in Europe in its attachment to FPTP.

  70. JohnSF says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And Israel does have a functional parliamentary system

    For an arbitrary value of functional. 🙂

    1
  71. JohnSF says:

    Incidentally, I come out of the quiz (mentally substituting “Britain” for “America” where relevant) as Establishment Liberal.
    Fair enough I suppose, as there’s not really the options that would identify a Conservative Welfarist Distributionist Monarchist Social Democrat (aka old fashioned Labour Party). 🙂

  72. DrDaveT says:

    Disagreement about what the problems are is significantly more fundamental than disagreement about what the solutions are.

    Also, any category description that invokes “conservative views” is circular and unhelpful, since one of the things none of these groups can agree on is what “conservative” means. Telling me that a group opposes immigration is informative; telling me that they espouse “conservative views” is not.

  73. JohnSF says:

    One UK difference from the US: despite being a strongly “two party” biased system, the LibDems remain a fully functional, and not especially weirdo, national party, for all they are the third wheel on the bicycle.

    Another, the system is these days strongly modified by the nationalists especially the SNP.

    And was briefly seriously affected by the UKIP on the right (most of the “Kippers” are now merged back into the Cons)

  74. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Is the approaching solstice making people slow?

    You do seem a little slow lately! 😉

    3
  75. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: It would have been helpful to have names to go with the high performing candidates to whom you refer, but using only my limited awareness the “candidate from Alaska” to whom you refer seems to be

    After losing the 2010 Republican primary to Tea Party candidate Joe Miller, Murkowski ran as a write-in candidate and defeated both Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams

    who lists herself as a Republican in news stories about her. An additional bit of background:

    Murkowski is the daughter of former U.S. Senator and Governor of Alaska Frank Murkowski. Before her appointment to the Senate, she served in the Alaska House of Representatives and was elected majority leader. She was controversially appointed to the Senate by her father, who resigned his seat in December 2002 to become governor of Alaska. Murkowski completed her father’s unexpired Senate term, which ended in January 2005.

    And

    A former top Alaska official who is challenging Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) [in what appears to be a Republican primary] with the support of former President Trump said Monday she wouldn’t back Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) for a leadership position if she wins election next year.
    https://news.yahoo.com/murkowski-challenger-says-she-wouldnt-190507373.html

    I may have the wrong person in mind. Please feel free to flesh out your assertion because I’m interested in knowing about some actual independents (as opposed to established pols who claim the mantle) who are other than fringe.

    2
  76. Mikey says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    The main obstacle is inertia

    No, the main obstacles are first-past-the-post winners and single-member districts. America’s two-party system is an all-but-inevitable result of these two factors.

    Of course, the two major parties also do all they can to exploit these structural factors, but it all goes back to FPTP and single-member districts.

    See also: Duverger’s Law.

    3
  77. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Looking more closely, I now see the House candidate to whom you refer in Alaska. I will note that her performance was in a two-candidate race with no registered Democratic Party opponent–Essentially, she was running as the Democrat. Illinois 8th featured a Libertarian who came in second in a two-candidate race–and got his a** handed to him at that and ran in lieu of a Republican candidate. New York 16 featured another 2-horse race, also running in lieu of the GQP fielding a candidate. This is not what I was referring to when I said “show me a none of the above getting…” It’s not that hard to come in second out of two–I’ve did it in my illustrious middle school class officer career several times–and the only time I won, I ran unopposed.

    1
  78. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: “Conservative Welfarist Distributionist Monarchist Social Democrat”

    Get real! Whose gonna run as THAT? (But yes, I’d probably vote for that person (Monarchist part excluded, of course)–in fact, I have in a district election. They didn’t win. 🙁 )

  79. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Telling me that a group opposes immigration is informative; telling me that they espouse “conservative views” is not.

    That’s what I eventually figured out, too. 🙁

    1
  80. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Both G and L parties could make a splash if they spent more time at the local end of the ballot and pushed a grassroots change. And the Libertarians, at least, need to get their act together and create a solid platform built on simple, relatable planks–and then stick to it (they also need to stop nominating weirdos and loons, but that’s another story).

    Except they almost invariably end up being spoilers when they have any impact.

    As for the weirdos and loons… that’s pretty much who you’re going to get when you’re looking for people to run a long campaign with no hope of winning. That and charlatans and grifters and performance artists.

    In theory, my politics are probably Green to Social Democrat. In practice, those people generally morons who will sacrifice a a small victory in the name of purity, so I’m just a Democrat.

    (I’m an incrementalist. We should start with FEMA Re-Education Night School, through the local community colleges, before embarking on a more immersive experience)

    3
  81. Dude Kembro says:

    @Mikey:

    No, the main obstacles are first-past-the-post winners and single-member districts. America’s two-party system is an all-but-inevitable result of these two factors.

    No, the main “obstacle” is that the Democratic and Republican coalitions already provide everything American voters who want to participate in party politics need.

    There’s not a single thing to be gained from Evangelicals, Libertarians, Corporatists, QAnoners, and Trolls splitting into separate parties that they do not already have under the umbrella of the Republican Party, their already-existing, pre-formed coalition.

    1
  82. Dude Kembro says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    No, but if the fruit salad in question is 49.9999 parts apple and 49.99999 parts orange it is a bit foolish to act like it is chock full of cherries.

    Or maybe those who perpetually whine about the lack of cherries should actually put in the time and effort grow them instead of pretending they’re going to magically appear out of nowhere. Americans are great at sitting around crying and complaining, while expecting someone else to do the work.

    Talk is cheap (and academicians love to talk, lecture, and have symposiums and meetings), but our actions show who we really are. If people wanted cherries, there would be cherries. People can talk and play pretend all day long, but they obviously want apples and oranges since they are doing *nothing* tangible to indicate otherwise.

    Tantamount to the same people who beg for term limits voting for their same preferred and beloved incumbent again and again. Like, come on, they’re only fooling themselves. Their actions are exposing their true wishes.

    1
  83. wr says:

    @Dude Kembro: ” If people wanted cherries, there would be cherries.”

    Dude — if I may call you “Dude” — what is it you’re arguing now? Because you started out insisting that we don’t have a two-party system but have tons of parties, then when Dr. T challenged you by pointing out these parties have no actual import in our politics and are barely worth considering as part of the system, you’ve changed to say that we don’t have a multi-party system because people suck or some such.

    When your point changes 180 degrees and you’re still arguing, maybe it’s time to realize that you care less about your point than being in an argument…

    3
  84. @Dude Kembro:

    Talk is cheap

    Perhaps, but understanding is pure gold.

    1
  85. @Dude Kembro:

    There’s not a single thing to be gained from Evangelicals, Libertarians, Corporatists, QAnoners, and Trolls splitting into separate parties that they do not already have under the umbrella of the Republican Party, their already-existing, pre-formed coalition.

    Not to mention that breaking off means losing (again: structure).

    Or, if you are a Q type or a Tea Party type, better to compete in the GOP primary–it is a mathematically more optimal route to winning office.

    There is a reason the Bernie the democratic socialist ran for the Democratic Party’s nomination twice, instead of running as a Democratic Socialist (or even an independent).

    Structure dictates options and, hence, behavior.

  86. @Mikey:

    See also: Duverger’s Law.

    I am obligated to note that Duverger’s Law is only truly law-like in the US: the UK, Canada, and India (especially India) don’t conform. I believe primaries when combined with single-seat plurality that really gives us strict bipartism.

    Still, Duverger’s observations do provide a pretty good guideline: single-seat plurality tends to reduce the number of parties and PR tends to increase them.

  87. matt bernius says:

    @Dude Kembro:

    Talk is cheap (and academicians love to talk, lecture, and have symposiums and meetings), but our actions show who we really are.

    I always chuckle when folks on website comment threads repeatedly expend lots of time, energy, and countless words crafting long polemics complaining that all academics do is “talk, lecture, etc” when they should be spending their time taking meaningful action.

    3
  88. Dude Kembro says:

    @matt bernius: I am not sure you know what the words “long” and “polemic” mean lol. But yeah, decades of watching the folks who talk talk talk about more parties *do* nothing to build more parties = it’s cathartic venting and empty talk. Clearly, they do not actually want or really need more parties.

    The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

  89. Dude Kembro says:

    @wr:

    …you’ve changed to say that we don’t have a multi-party system because people suck or some such.

    When your point changes 180 degrees and you’re still arguing, maybe it’s time to realize that you care less about your point than being in an argument…

    I guess it can be disconcerting when a commenter here does not slavishly submit to appeals to authority and instead challenges the conventional wisdom circle jerk, where ofttimes clichés like “two-party system” are repeated ad nauseum regardless of reality.

    But when you have to distort someone’s point with strawmen, maybe it’s time to stop projecting your flaws in argumentation onto said person.

    In fact, I did not say “people suck.” You did that. I never did. Nor did I (ever, anywhere) backtrack on my original point: that there are, as a matter of fact, more than two parties in America; most do not attract membership because the two parties who do function as big-tent coalitions of smaller parties that would gain nothing from leaving those coalitions.

    My going along with someone’s (iffy) analogy to also say that if folks wanted a viable third party they would work at it rather than just whine at it, reiterates that point, it does not erase that point. A point which, btw, seems pretty self-evident and non-controversial.

    Maybe if I was a white male professor of a certain age, me making this point wouldn’t generate this upset gaslighting. Who knows? But your comment demonstrates your desire to argue, dearest, not mine.

  90. @Dude Kembro: I suppose the question is: are you actually interested in why we have what we have, or are you just wanting to grouse?

  91. wr says:

    @Dude Kembro: So we don’t have a two-party system because we’ve got lots of parties, but only the main two parties every get candidates elected because no one cares about the minor parties, but that doesn’t mean that functionally we have a two-party system apparently because I’m white or male or a professor or old — all of the above, actually — and thus you are a freethinking radical and everyone else is gaslighting. Which is probably the oddest and least coherent use of that verb in history, but if accuracy mattered to you, then maybe you would have made an actual point somewhere along the line.

    Just a wee hint if you’re actually new to the internet — the point at which you start proclaiming that you, unlike all those other posters, do not slavishly submit to appeals to authority and instead challenge the conventional wisdom circle jerk, that’s pretty much the time that everyone else stops paying attention to you.

    2
  92. Dude Kembro says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Do you want to concede that someone saying America does not actually have a “strict” two party system might have a point? Or do you want to keep playing towards the stereotype of the arrogant white male academician who can’t entertain any part of his statements being disagreed with because how dare his lessees suggest he be anything other than 100% infallible 100% of the time?

  93. Dude Kembro says:

    @wr:

    …and thus you are a freethinking radical and everyone else is gaslighting. Which is probably the oddest and least coherent use of that verb in history, but if accuracy mattered to you

    Strawman arguments are fun. And if accuracy mattered to you, you wouldn’t keep resorting to them, putting your own thoughts and words in my mouth. So I agree on the odd and incoherent part, since again, I’m not using these verbs and these words: you are. Yes, it’s very odd and incoherent of you to be so wedded to fighting, arguing, and projection, that you ignore what I actually wrote to instead argue against your own statements.

    Two wit, I ​never said I was a “freethinking radical.” Those are your words.

    I never said “everyone” is gaslighting. That is your word. You clearly think that the world revolves around you and thus, that you are “everyone.” I don’t. *You* are gaslighting. Not “everyone.”

    I never said America doesn’t have a “functionally” two-party system. That’s your word. I said, from my first post on, that America does not have a “strict” two party system.

    Here’s a hint for you, since you’re new to critical thinking: when you keep responding to someone, that indicates that you obviously are paying attention to them. Frankly, I’d much prefer you did stop paying attention to me rather than keep lying about me over and over again. But I’m guessing you’re as honest about your alleged lack of attention to me as you are about everything else. Which is to say (if you didn’t get the hint) you’re a liar.

  94. wr says:

    @Dude Kembro: So now your entire argument, over which you have gotten so heated you’re dragging in race and social status to claim your own little victimization, comes down to whether we have a “strict” two party system or a functional two party system?

    Pretty heavy thinking there, Dude. You really are a scholar.

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  95. @Dude Kembro:

    Do you want to concede that someone saying America does not actually have a “strict” two party system might have a point?

    Look, that becomes a wholly semantic argument about what “strict” means. While I would describes (and pretty sure I have in print) the US as having “strict bipartism” (meaning, for almost all practical purposes, a system in which only two parties win office, and for certain only two parties can control the government) if you want “strict” to mean there are literally only two parties, then that’s fine, but then we are arguing about appropriate adjectives, not about the literal number of parties in the United States.

    I will readily admit that there are a number of third parties in the US. I never contested this fact.

    The issue, if seems to me, is what are the odds that such parties could win at any significant level? The answer is: very, very, very low. So the next question ought to be why? I write about the answer to that question with some frequency at this site.

    Or do you want to keep playing towards the stereotype of the arrogant white male academician who can’t entertain any part of his statements being disagreed with because how dare his lessees suggest he be anything other than 100% infallible 100% of the time?

    I was trying to explain why I disagree with you above. If you don’t like my explanation, that is your right.

    Again: you are correct: there are more than two parties in the United States.

    I never disputed that.

    To be honest, I am not entirely sure what you are angry at me about.

    The way I talk about the US party system is in line with the way political scientists describe it: a two-party system.

    I am not sure why you are so opposed to that characterization or why you find my responses offensive.

    Do I write like I think I know what I am talking about? Of course I do. I have been seriously studying party systems and their relationship to electoral rules since the early 1990s. I have published books, chapters, and articles on the subject. I know, and have worked with, some of the true titans in electoral studies. Surely that entitles me to some level of approaching the subject with actual authority. This does not mean that I am right all the time, but it radically increases the odds that I am–certainly on fundamental issues.

    How is that wrong?