cover image Divided America: The Ferocious Power Struggle in American Politics

Divided America: The Ferocious Power Struggle in American Politics

Earl Black, Merle Black, . . Simon & Schuster, $26 (286pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-6206-4

Politics by the numbers is the modus operandi of the Black brothers, twins who teach political science (Earl at Rice University, Merle at Emory University). Having focused on politics in the Southern states in three previous academic collaborations, the Blacks now divide the United States into five regions (South, Northeast, Pacific Coast, Midwest, Mountains/Plains), and explain how and why national electoral politics have become a close contest between two parties, Democrats and Republicans, that cannot claim permanent majority status. Most of the election data they examine comes from presidential elections; their analysis of races for the House of Representatives and the Senate come toward the end and are out of kilter with the results of the November 2006 House and Senate elections. Still, the Blacks' generalizations deserve consideration. They believe the Democrats are quite likely to retain advantages in the Northeast and Pacific Coast regions, while the Republicans are quite likely to win the South and Mountains/Plains regions in the 2008 election. That leaves the Midwest as the swing region. (The Blacks define the Midwest as 10 states, including Kentucky and West Virginia.) Though the book will probably fascinate politics junkies, the emphasis on statistics rather than lively anecdotes means rough going for qualitative rather than quantitative minds. 34 charts and tables. (Mar.)