Not Much Contrast Under the Dome

Study Finds New Jersey’s Legislature Among the Least Ideologically Polarized in America

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

legislative polarization graphHere’s something you might find interesting, Save Jerseyans: a gaggle of academics (including a Princeton professor) got together and studied the polarization of state legislatures.

What did they find? New Jersey boasts the 10th least polarized legislature in the United States.

The results are based on the behavior of 18,000 state legislators going back to 1993. A matrix of votes on selected issues enabled them to develop a polarization index which, in turn, measures “the amount of polarization, defined as the average ideological distance between the median of the Democratic and Republican parties in the state legislative chambers; larger numbers indicate more division.”

It’s the kind of thing that political nerds and scientists live for. I still wouldn’t mind seeing New Jersey’s graph position shift right in the next study.

Frankly, I think we could use a little more “polarization” under the dome (as it’s defined by this particular study). Civility is one thing. Still, while I can’t speak for you, I’ve never voted for a candidate hoping they’d govern by concession! Because I’ve yet to see the Democrat legislature that rewarded conciliation with compromise. Compromise is important, but starting a negotiation from a compromised position is really just another form of surrender. That’s something that the New Jersey Republican Party has all-too-often failed to appreciate in recent years. If anyone comes up with a way to get the point across, you know where to find me.

I’m not saying there aren’t important, consequential differences between Republicans and Democrats, Save Jerseyans. There are. The only question is whether there’s enough — correctly articulated — to build a winning coalition.

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