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Op/ed: Blue Federal Leadership Could Spur Red State Backlash

Republican States Likely to Erect Roadblocks to Democrats’ Policies Requiring Cooperation, UMD Researchers Say

By Maryland Today Staff

U.S. Capitol during Biden's inauguration

Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his inaugural address in front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. UMD political science researchers argue in a new Washington Post essay that red states get redder, and blue states get bluer when the opposing party controls the federal government.

With Democrats taking control of the White House and both houses of Congress for the first time since 2010, how might the parts of American governance that remain in Republican hands react?

According to forthcoming UMD research from Nicholas Miras, a doctoral candidate in government and politics, and Stella M. Rouse, associate professor and director of the Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement, since the 1970s, states controlled by a single political party have worked to create greater ideological distance from a federal government controlled by the opposing party. 

In  a new “Monkey Cage” essay in The Washington Post, they discuss how this could affect legislation in areas such as the environment, immigration and elections:

Democrats have razor-thin majorities in both chambers. The Senate is split 50-50, allowing Harris to cast the tie-breaking vote; the House is divided 221 to 211.

Nevertheless, Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) have promised to pursue “bold change,” including tackling climate change, voting rights and statehood for the District of Columbia. At the federal level, Republicans will be unable to block Democrats or meaningfully advance their own policy priorities.

We can expect Republicans to push back in states that they control, our research finds.

To read the full op/ed, visit The Washington Post.

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