Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America

Morris P. Fiorina / Samuel J. Abrams / Jeremy C. Pope  
Total pages
January 2010
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Part of the "Great Questions in Politics" series, Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America combines polling data with a compelling narrative to debunk commonly-believed myths about American politics-particularly the claim that Americans are deeply divided in their fundamental political views.


Authored by one of the most respected political scientists in America, this brief, trade-like text looks at controversial and hot topic issues (such as homosexuality, abortion, etc.) and argues that most Americans are not polarized in relation to them.

New to this Edition

This third edition of Culture War?  features an additional Preface and new Epilogue relating the 2008 campaign and election to the general argument of the book.

Table of Contents


Preface to the Third Edition

Preface to the Second Edition

Preface to the First Edition

1. Culture War?

2. If America is not Polarized, Why Do So Many Americans Think it is?

3. A 50:50 Nation? Red and Blue State People are Not That Different.

4. A 50:50 Nation? Beyond the Red and the Blue States.

5. A Closer Look at Abortion.

6. A Closer Look at Homosexuality.

7. Have Electoral Cleavages Shifted?

8. The 2004 Election and Beyond.

9. Reconciling Micro and Macro.

10. How Did It Come to This and Where Do We Go From Here?

Epilogue. The Road to and from 2008

Back Cover

What Culture War?

Abortion, Gay Marriage, School Prayer, Gun Control


Is the nation really polarized on these hot-button moral, religious, and cultural issues?  Should we believe the media pundits and politicians who tell us that Americans are deeply divided?

No, says Morris Fiorina.  At a time when the rift between the “red” and “blue” states can seem deeper than ever, Fiorina debunks the assumption that Americans are deeply split over national issues.  He presents quite a contrary picture - that most Americans stand in the middle of the political landscape and are in general agreement even on those issues thought to be most divisive.

Poking holes in the concept of a “culture war,” Fiorina explains that the majority of Americans are both moderate and tolerant, and that their greatest concerns are leadership and security, not moral values.  Supporting his position with election data and a variety of public surveys, Fiorina concludes that the view of a divided America is simply false and that by recognizing our common ground, we have a basis for creating a more unified and moderate approach to government and politics in the near future.

A new epilogue relates the 2008 campaign and election to the general argument of the book, looking at the people and issues affecting the road to the White House in 2008, and speculating on what lies ahead for (un)polarized America.



Morris P. Fiorina is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and the Wendt Family Professor of Political Science at Stanford University.  His work has appeared in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and he is the author of several books, including Divided Government and The New American Democracy.

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