When President Obama recently complained to news media executives about their ostensibly even-handed "pox on both of your houses" coverage of the partisan battles in Washington, it might have seemed like, well, a partisan shot from a Democratic president.
After all, his complaint was that the GOP had moved so far right, and intransigently so, that it was wrong to create a false "equivalence" by blaming both parties equally for the Washington gridlock. To a skeptic that comment, coming from a Democrat, sounded suspiciously partisan itself.
But while the president was making the kind of argument you would expect of the nation's top Democrat, he actually had the support of science — well at least political science research that maps that rightward GOP shift.
Keith Poole of the University of Georgia, with his collaborator Howard Rosenthal of New York University, has spent decades charting the ideological shifts and polarization of the political parties in Congress from the 18th century until now to get the view of how the political landscape has changed from 30,000 feet up. What they have found is that the Republican Party is the most conservative it has been a century.