Since Obama’s victory in 2008 our politics seems more polarised and contentious than any time in recent memory. The 2010 midterm elections amplified the divisions and created the context for a bitterly fought presidential election on perilously narrow margins:
Americans aren’t just evenly divided in the 2012 election; they’re practically fleeing the political middle.
Towards the end of the Wisconsin recall election this year, we saw something striking happen: Not only were there very few undecided voters in the weeks before Election Day, but the vast majority of people were strongly for or strongly against Gov. Scott Walker (R), with very few people lukewarm on either side.
The same thing is happening in the presidential race.
Aaron Blake – The Incredibly Polarized American Electorate Washington Post 30 Oct 12
Click through on Mark Newman’s excellent county map of 2008 above to see that Obama was right, we aren’t a nation of red states and blue states. However we are divided throughout the nation into increasingly inflexible and adamant local bastions with little apparent common ground and discrete sources of inspiration and information. What little dialogue we have has largely devolved to polemics and issue-baiting as if two divergent, incompatible cultures are emerging; yet we share legislatures and infrastructure almost everywhere.
Long established components of our social infrastructure and legal precedent are assertively being challenged by a radical political agenda which has cynically, and perhaps unwisely, exposed old wounds:
The 2012 election is shaping up to be more polarised along racial lines than any presidential contest since 1988, with President Barack Obama experiencing a steep drop in support among white voters from four years ago.
At this stage in 2008, Obama trailed John McCain by seven percentage points among white voters. Even in victory, Obama ended up losing white voters by 12 percentage points, according to that year’s exit poll. But now, Obama has a deficit of 23 points, trailing Republican Mitt Romney 60 per cent to 37 per cent among whites, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC national tracking poll.
John Cohen – This has to be the most racially polarised presidential election in decades Independent 28 Oct 12
Partisans are equally convinced of their impending victory; the Right, for whatever reason, is cheerfully and sincerely anticipating a Romney landslide and vindication. Whatever the outcome, and it certainly seems reasonable to anticipate an Obama win on evidence, the angst will be profound; stand by for the crazy.