Richard Skinner '92 Publishes Article in Political Science Quarterly

Richard Skinner '92
Richard Skinner '92
Hamilton College graduate Richard Skinner '92 has recently published an extensive article on political partisanship in the latest issue of Political Science Quarterly and is also basing a forthcoming book on the subject.  Skinner, a government major at Hamilton, went on to obtain an MA from the University of Virginia and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Government at Bowdoin College.  Skinner remains active in the Hamilton community as an Alumni Review volunteer.  According to Professor Skinner's recent article:

Since 1980, there had been a seismic shift in the American Presidency, largely driven by political partisanship.  Since the beginning of the Reagan administration till now, presidents have increasingly relied on their political parties for support.  As such, Skinner argues, the American public must move beyond the idea that presidents function above party politics and should instead understand how and why presidents strive to employ their political parties as practical instruments of governance.

Correspondingly, the American public has also increasingly aligned themselves among party lines.  Throughout the Presidency of George W. Bush, Republican voters have kept Bush's approval ratings from dipping below 25% and have regularly given Bush approval ratings in excess of 90%, making former President Bush one of the most popular Presidents ever with their own party.  Furthermore, elections have also become increasingly partisan, with the elections of 2000 and 2004 showing 87% and 90%, respectively, of voters casting presidential ballots along party lines (according to the National Election Studies).

Additionally, Presidential policy has also become increasingly party-driven.  This shift is best seen in the Reagan and second Bush administration; best characterized by their selection of ideologically similar appointees and their efforts to secure ideological control of the judiciary.  Similarly, media coverage has also exhibited a decline of the media's traditional 'objectivity.'  For instance, a 2006 survey by the Pew Research Institute found that 34% of Republicans "regularly watch" Fox News compared to only 20% of Democrats.  According to Skinner, this 'partisan presidency' has long-term implications, most recently seen in Republican opposition to President Obama's agenda.

--By Bill Getman '09

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