FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) Associate Professor of Political Science Michael R. Wolf is the co-editor of a multi-part symposium, “Political Civility,” published in the upcoming July issue of PS: Political Science & Politics. With the 2012 presidential election gaining momentum, surveys looking at data regarding partisanship, compromise, and campaign negativity shed light on the campaign trail ahead.
Scholars and pundits alike express concern that political incivility has reached a tipping point and is damaging American democracy. Focusing on current, heightened levels of political incivility, the six articles in the symposium "Political Civility" explore the roles that political leaders, campaign consultants, the media, and voters play in undermining compromise.
Wolf, with co-editor Cherie Strachan of Central Michigan University and the contributing authors, proposes that contemporary incivility is indeed worse than the normal “rough-and-tumble” of political debate and suggests that contemporary incivility is indeed troubling.
In “Incivility and Standing Firm: A Second Layer of Partisan Division” Wolf, Strachan and Daniel Shea analyzed three surveys, conducted from April 2010 through the midterm Election Eve, examining the public’s reactions to political incivility.
Questions focused on people’s perceptions of the political debate and the tone of the campaign, along with their willingness to embrace deliberation and compromise. The results were startling, as incivility “contributes to conditions that make future consensus even less possible and enables long-standing partisan divisions.”
The polls found:
“A substantial number of Americans not only have strong policy preferences, but also reject consensual politics. Republicans and Democrats differ greatly on views of civility, whether it is more important for politicians to compromise to get things done or stand firm on principle, and who is to blame for incivility,” said Wolf.
PS: Political Science & Politics is published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association (APSA). The journal provides critical analyses of contemporary political phenomena and is the journal of record for the discipline of political science reporting on research, teaching, and professional development.
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