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Asymmetric Politics: Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats, Matt Grossmann and David A. Hopkins

Reviewed by Elizabeth N. Simas



In today's divided political environment, even the most unengaged citizen is typically aware that Democrats and Republicans are on different sides of most issues. In their book Asymmetric Politics, Matt Grossman and David A. Hopkins show that the differences between the two parties run much deeper than just policy stances. Drawing on a wealth of evidence, the authors argue that polarization is not so much the result of the two parties moving away from the same ideological center point, but rather it is the product of the two parties responding to their distinct types of constituencies. According to the authors, the Democratic Party is a coalition of social groups with specific policy preferences, while the Republican Party is composed of individuals drawn to the conservative ideological movement. This fundamental asymmetry leads to vastly different approaches to “debating public issues, campaigning for votes, and pursuing policy change in government” (p. 14).

Whereas many works focus on just one facet of partisanship, Grossman and Hopkins opt for a more holistic approach. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 illustrate asymmetries in mass public opinion, party organizations, and information networks, respectively. Chapters 5 and 6 go on to explore the how these asymmetries impact campaigning and policymaking. This broad scope requires the authors to fo

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