2023 Undergraduate Research Showcase


Measuring & Comparing Elite Political Polarization in the Idaho State House of Representatives & Senate Over the Last 25 Years

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Tony Roark


Political polarization in America is often broken down for research into two key groups: mass polarization (the polarization of voters and citizens) and elite polarization (the polarization of elected officials and party leadership). Much debate among political scientists has surrounded the rapid acceleration of not only mass polarization, but of elite polarization in the United States. However, much of that research has centered on the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C. I shall be analyzing elite party polarization in the Idaho State Capitol, looking primarily first at voting trends among state representatives over the past 30 years and then seeing how it compares to trends of elite political polarization at the federal level. I anticipate that the results will show synchronized behavior between the Federal-level and State-level parties, but that significant differences will show themselves ideologically. This research will also measure intra-party polarization of the parties in Idaho. Quantitative data will be collected primarily, as I will be analyzing roll call votes among representatives in the Idaho State Capitol. This research will be important to understanding how deep, widespread polarization among national political elites may negatively (or perhaps positively) impact the legislative process at the state level.

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