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Myths and Realities of American Political Geography

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  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • Bryce A. Ward
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    Abstract

    The division of America into red states and blue states misleadingly suggests that states are split into two camps, but along most dimensions, like political orientation, states are on a continuum. By historical standards, the number of swing states is not particularly low, and America's cultural divisions are not increasing. But despite the flaws of the red state/blue state framework, it does contain two profound truths. First, the heterogeneity of beliefs and attitudes across the United States is enormous and has always been so. Second, political divisions are becoming increasingly religious and cultural. The rise of religious politics is not without precedent, but rather returns us to the pre-New Deal norm. Religious political divisions are so common because religious groups provide politicians the opportunity to send targeted messages that excite their base.

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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.20.2.119
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

    Volume (Year): 20 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
    Pages: 119-144

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    Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:20:y:2006:i:2:p:119-144

    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.20.2.119
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    Cited by:
    1. Paola Conconi & Giovanni Facchini & Maurizio Zanardi, 2012. "Fast-Track Authority and International Trade Negotiations," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 146-89, August.
    2. Michael D. Makowsky, 2009. "Religion, Clubs, and Emergent Social Divides," Working Papers 2009-03, Towson University, Department of Economics, revised May 2010.
    3. Klor, Esteban F & Shayo, Moses, 2007. "Social Identity and Preferences over Redistribution," CEPR Discussion Papers 6406, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Edward L. Glaeser & Cass R. Sunstein, 2007. "Extremism and Social Learning," NBER Working Papers 13687, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Tomer Blumkin & Volker Grossmann, 2010. "May increased partisanship lead to convergence of parties’ policy platforms?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 145(3), pages 547-569, December.
    6. Matthew Gentzkow & Nathan Petek & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2012. "Do Newspapers Serve the State? Incumbent Party Influence on the US Press, 1869-1928," NBER Working Papers 18164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. DiPrete, Thomas A. & Gelman, Andrew & Teitler, Julien & Zheng, Tian & McCormick, Tyler, 2008. "Segregation in social networks based on acquaintanceship and trust," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Inequality and Social Integration SP I 2008-204, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    8. Hillman, Arye L., 2010. "Expressive behavior in economics and politics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 403-418, December.
    9. Kumar, Alok & Page, Jeremy K. & Spalt, Oliver G., 2011. "Religious beliefs, gambling attitudes, and financial market outcomes," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(3), pages 671-708.
    10. Jon H. Fiva & Olle Folke & Rune J. Sørensen, 2013. "The Power of Parties," CESifo Working Paper Series 4119, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Glaeser, Edward L. & Sunstein, Cass R., 2008. "Extremism and Social Learning," Working Paper Series rwp08-004, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    12. Leandro M. de Magalhães, 2011. "Political Parties and the Tax Level in the American States: A Regression Discontinuity Design," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 11/622, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.

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