Mann and Ornstein contend that the current partisan divide, polarization, and gridlock are the products of a very deliberate scheme for power by a party that had been marginalized for most of the 20th century (at least nationally). The Democrats held the majority in the House of Representatives for 40 consecutive years (from 1955 to 1995) before the Republican Party held a majority again. Although Man and Ornstein point to a number of factors for the current era of polarization including changing political geography, media fragmentation, money, corruption, and a politically active Supreme Court, they emphasize Newt Gingrich and his mission to return the Republican Party to majority in the House of Representatives as the key that unlocked the door. This mission of Representative Gingrich included portraying the ruling party as corrupt and immoral as well as portraying the whole of Congress, as a group of individuals and as an institution, in the same terms. This strategy worked for the party claiming to be for small government in two ways. First, as the public began believing the story of corruption and immorality they would punish the ruling party; the Democrats. Second, if the public began seeing the government as an organ of problems they would naturally begin aligning with the party preaching the same rhetoric. This activism towards political divide seems empirically sound. So why has the media continued to portray the issue of gridlock as a bipartisan effort when the benefits are ultimately one-sided? Why have the Democrats done such a poor job framing this issue?
McCarty also points towards an ever increasing shift to the right by the Republican Party as the ultimate cause of divide. As the whole of the Democratic Party has stayed in relatively the same place politically (center-left), the Republican Party has moved further from center with the majority of them identifying as right-center or right-right. McCarty also contends that while the Republican Party has moved further to the right, the American people have remained in the moderate center and may have even come closer together in their beliefs overall. How can this be if as Burstein claims public opinion impacts politics in meaningful ways? This polarization of political parties seems to support Domhoff's position that there is an elite class in America and the people in this class, including individuals like Newt Gingrich, have a disproportionate amount of power to determine political outcomes.