"Rather than compete directly against each other, both parties increasingly occupy their separate territories, with diminishing overlap and disappearing common accountability," he writes. "They hear from very different constituents, with very different priorities. The minimal electoral incentives they do face all push toward nurturing, rather than bridging, those increasingly wide divisions."
Presidential candidates in recent years, especially Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton this year, are ignoring large parts of America, with Trump instead largely focusing on rural areas and Clinton on urban ones, Drutman writes. "In the 2012 presidential election, only four states were decided by five or fewer percentage points, and the median state-level margin of victory was a whopping 16.9 percent (in other words, not even close). Compare that with the 1976 presidential election, when 20 states were decided by five or fewer percentage points (and 31 were decided by eight percentage points or fewer), and the median state-level margin of victory was 5.9 percent."
"The deeper problem is that a system without much effective two-party competition is a system that pushes entirely in the opposite direction," he writes. "If a vast majority of seats are now safe for one party or the other, candidates don’t face any re-election incentive to reach out to the other party’s voters. Instead, they increasingly focus on the fear of a primary challenge. Especially on the right, this looming primary challenge (even if it is rare) means that members do not want to be seen as compromisers. This does not bode well for a functioning Congress." (Read more)