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Divided America

The Ferocious Power Struggle in American Politics

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Divided America tells the biggest story in American politics today. It's the story behind the emergence of a ferocious power struggle between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats that is tearing the country's politics apart.

Drawing on extensive polling data and close analyses of presidential, senatorial, and congressional elections over the past fifty years, two eminent political scientists show, for the first time, how partisan warfare has reduced both major parties to minority status and locked them into fierce power struggles in each election cycle, thereby making America less stable and more difficult to govern.

Because the two major parties are now evenly balanced in the national electorate, control of the White House and Congress can shift dramatically with each election. Neither Republicans nor Democrats operate with any "lock" on the presidency, House of Representatives, or Senate, as demonstrated by the 2006 congressional elections.

Earl Black and Merle Black examine the party battles as they've played themselves out in the nation's five principal geographic areas. Each party has developed two important regional strongholds, as exemplified in the 2004 elections, when Republicans won all the electoral votes and sizable majorities of House and Senate seats in the South and Mountain/Plains states while the Democrats won almost all the electoral votes and large majorities in the Northeast and the Pacific Rim states. The Midwest is the perennial swing region.

The authors describe the enormous changes that have occurred in the electorates of each region over the past fifty years -- with emphasis on how the size and partisan affiliations of key groups have changed -- and show how these transformations have generated today's unstable two-party battles. Although the relentlessly competitive nature of modern American politics is generally appreciated, the regional causes underlying this new state of affairs are not well understood. Because neither Democrats nor Republicans can produce national majorities simply by sweeping their regional strongholds, they are locked in a fierce power struggle in each election. Divided America tells the story of these remarkable developments in clear, vigorous prose and provides a pragmatic understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each party.

For the foreseeable future, each party will be within striking distance of winning -- or losing -- political power in every national institution. Understanding the party battles in America's regions is vital to understanding how today's losers can become tomorrow's winners

Photo Credit:

Earl Black is a professor of political science at Rice University in Houston. His brother, Merle Black, is a professor of politics and government at Emory University in Atlanta. They are also the authors of The Rise of Southern Republicans, The Vital South, and Politics and Society in the South.

Photo Credit:

Earl Black is a professor of political science at Rice University in Houston. His brother, Merle Black, is a professor of politics and government at Emory University in Atlanta. They are also the authors of The Rise of Southern Republicans, The Vital South, and Politics and Society in the South.

"For a generation, Earl Black and Merle Black have been enlightening Americans about the politics of the South. It is both a sign of the times and a blessing for all who love politics that they have turned their analytical genius and clarity of thought to regional politics in the whole country. This book would have been important even without the electoral earthquake of 2006. Now it is more important than ever in providing a road map for 2008 and beyond. You can't understand the future of American politics without understanding the importance of the new regionalism. To understand how it works and why it matters, you need to read Divided America." -- E. J. Dionne, Jr., syndicated columnist and author of Why Americans Hate Politics

"Forget the Middle East. The real struggle for the future will take place in the Middle West. As Earl and Merle Black show in this lucid and informative account, the smartest way to think about American politics is the old-fashioned way -- by region. Divided America explains why we will have close elections in this country as far as the eye can see. This is a complete picture of where we stand politically, with important historical context." -- Jonathan Alter, senior editor, Newsweek, author of The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope

"Divided America is a sophisticated study of how Americans vote -- and why the country has become almost impossible to govern. It is a book of frustrating answers rather than the usual clueless questions. A valuable book." -- Richard Reeves, author of President Reagan and President Kennedy

"Bedside reading for Karl Rove wannabes preparing for 2008." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"A thoughtful, thorough analysis of the undercurrents that have driven our polarized national politics in recent decades." -- The Washington Post Book World

"Divided America is merely brilliant." -- Cragg Hines, Houston Chronicle

"Voters should understand the nature of regional differences. Why the regions matter is the subject of Divided America." -- George Will, Newsweek

"A numbers junkie's look at what makes our political map red and blue." -- Karlyn Bowan, The Weekly Standard

"You can't understand the future of American politics without understanding the importance of the new regionalism. To understand how it works and why it matters you need to read Divided America." -- E.J. Dionne, Jr., syndicated columnist and author of Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics after the Religious Right