Back to overview

The great divide: drivers of polarization in the US public

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Böttcher Lucas, Gersbach Hans,
Project Multispecies interacting stochastic systems in biology
Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal EPJ Data Science
Volume (Issue) 9(1)
Page(s) 32 - 32
Title of proceedings EPJ Data Science
DOI 10.1140/epjds/s13688-020-00249-4

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Many democratic societies have become more politically polarized, with the U.S. being the main example. The origins of this phenomenon are still not well-understood and subject to debate. To provide insight into some of the mechanisms underlying political polarization, we develop a mathematical framework and employ Bayesian Markov chain Monte-Carlo (MCMC) and information-theoretic concepts to analyze empirical data on political polarization that has been collected by Pew Research Center from 1994 to 2017. Our framework can capture the evolution of polarization in the Democratic- and Republican-leaning segments of the U.S. public and allows us to identify its drivers. Our empirical and quantitative evidence suggests that political polarization in the U.S. is mainly driven by strong political/cultural initiatives in the Democratic party.