American Political Party Polarization: The 2016 Presidential Election Cycle in Comparison




Robichaux, Ragan

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By building off established theories and literature, this paper employs an exploratory quantitative methodological approach to analyze the current level of political party platform polarization. The scope of this research focuses on the two main political parties of the United States (Republican and Democratic), and uses proportion-based content analysis to code the party platforms in order to place both parties on the same ideological scale. By placing the parties on the same ideological scale, the level of polarization will be determined and used in comparison to answer whether the 2016 Republican and Democratic Parties are more polarized than the Republican and Democratic Parties of 1964, 1976, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2012. The research question being addressed is whether the current levels of political party polarization are higher in 2016 than the previous half-century. Lastly, the main argument will be formed around the data produced comparing the polarization between the 2016 party platforms against each of the case studies.


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2016 Election, Content Analysis, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Political Party, Political Polarization



Political Science and Geography