New book shows Democrats and Republicans are nothing alike

Posted at 1:43 PM, Sep 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-28 13:43:44-04

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats focus on particular policy issues, think of politics as a battle among social groups and seek compromise to achieve pragmatic interests.

The great divide between America’s two major political parties is explored in depth in the just-published “Asymmetric Politics: Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats” co-authored by Michigan State University political scientist Matt Grossmann and Boston College political scientist David A. Hopkins.

Published by Oxford University Press, the book was launched this September as Amazon’s No. 1 new release in its political ideology category. It quickly won praise as offering new insights, detailed observations and careful research into the country’s polarized politics.

America’s political divide isn’t an equal departure from a moderate center, with parties mirror images in their approaches to campaigning and governing, Grossmann and Hopkins write.

Instead, each party woos different voters, nominates candidates in separate ways and forges governing styles distinct from each other. Republicans and Democrats differ sharply even in how they are organized and in how they present their views to the public.

The two parties have developed differently during the past 50 years, and given an American electorate that sides with Democratic policies and Republican’s vision of limited government, the polarizing rift isn’t likely to be soon healed.

“One party is battling for an ideology; the other is battling for groups of people. They’re fighting, in other words, over different things,” the political scientists write in a recent poston the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog.

Grossmann, author, editor or co-author of six books on politics, is director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research in MSU’s College of Social Science.

The book has won solidly favorable reviews. Writes Ezra Klein, editor-in-chief of the online publication Vox: “Grossmann and Hopkins’ research decisively shows that the two parties are not the same – and once you understand the ways in which they’re different, American politics begins to make a lot more sense.”