Partisan Rancor and Representative Democracy

The 2006 election was a highly partisan affair. Defying the late Speaker of the House Thomas (Tip) O'Neill's refrain that "all politics is local," Congressional contests were shaped by a polarized contest between the national Republican and Democratic Parties. Parties set the agenda of the campaign, provided critical financial and organizational support to candidates, and drove voting choices.

In a year when the political climate favored Democrats, many voters rejected Republican