“Negative partisanship” is what political scientists call support for a party that is based not so much on loyalty to that party as on how much we can’t stand the other party. Of course, there always has been some of this contentiousness in politics. But the divide has grown so much in recent years that, as Charlie Cook at the Cook Political Report wrote last year, “The old saying that ‘I vote the person not the party,’ once a commonplace belief, is now just a cliche.”
You can blame, as many do, an excess of power in the presidency, in Senate rules or in strong judicial review.
Forty years ago, when asked to rate how “favorable and warm” their opinion of each party was, the average Democrat and Republican said they felt OK-ish about the opposite party. But for four decades now, partisans have increasingly turned against each other in an escalating cycle of dislike and distrust — views of the other party are currently at an all-time low.
These days, even the wearing…