I know "political" behavior in an office is usually seen as negative, insidious and counter-productive. I agree with that if we only consider the dark side of politics, where incompetent people are rewarded because they stroke egos and hog glory.
I tend to see political acumen as a necessary skill, especially in larger organizations. It is first a skill of assessing power. Power could be related to title and formal authority. But power can also be competence, relationship and influence. Secondly, political acumen involves the determination of what actions to take, given the assessments.
Quick example: A newly-hired manager joins the organization. She may think her boss is an ally, and therefore a political asset. But after a few weeks, it becomes clear that her boss is in over his head, not really that capable. In an ideal world, the new manager makes a case to her boss' boss, or HR. But that's almost always a bad idea. In a direct power struggle, the incumbent, higher-ranked manager almost always wins. What to do? She needs to build a political base in order to: a) Prevent her incompetent boss from throwing her under the bus. and b) Gain support for higher quality work and decisions, especially if the boss is a roadblock. Such a politically savvy manager will be wise to make connections across different functions, get placed on task forces to demonstrate competence, and quietly cultivate potential allies based on their competence, influence, etc.
Given all of this, I find myself wondering if all the new people who have come on board feel disenfranchised vs. the old guard. If so, behaving politically may simply be a survival strategy. Senior leadership would be well-advised to explore, ask questions, and get old guard and new guard folks to interact constructively on clearly-defined projects.