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Polarized Politics and Policy Consequences

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Publication Date: January 2007

Publisher(s): RAND Corporation

Author(s): Diana Epstein; John D. Graham

Funder(s): RAND Corporation

Funder(s): RAND Corporation

Topic: Politics (Campaigns, lobbying, and pressure groups)


To elucidate the impact of polarization on the daily lives of U.S. citizens, the research community may need to modify its benchmarks for what constitutes a successful public policy. The authors suggest that we need a better understanding of how polarization affects the quantity and substance of rulemaking, regulations, and judicial decisions. We also need to examine the effects of partisan polarization at the state and local levels of government, how much polarization complicates the conduct of defense and foreign policy, and precisely how polarization affects different policy areas. The publication should be of interest to members of Congress, presidential candidates, civil servants, political scientists, reporters, and stakeholders seeking to influence public policy.