What has happened to the American electorate in recent decades is sorting. A few decades ago, there were thriving factions of conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans, among both voters and their elected representatives; that is to say, the parties themselves were internally diverse. Nowadays, however, ideological consistency is the rule. This is the real reason behind many phenomena commonly, and incorrectly, attributed to “polarization,” Fiorina points out, such as the massive decline in ticket-splitting.
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