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Myths and Realities of American Political Geography

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  • Glaeser, Edward L.

    (Harvard U)

  • Ward, Bryce A.

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Glaeser, Edward L. & Ward, Bryce A., 2006. "Myths and Realities of American Political Geography," Working Paper Series rwp06-007, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp06-007
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    File URL: https://research.hks.harvard.edu/publications/workingpapers/citation.aspx?PubId=3466&type=WPN
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2005. "Strategic Extremism: Why Republicans and Democrats Divide on Religious Values," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1283-1330.
    2. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & José A. Scheinkman, 1996. "Crime and Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 507-548.
    3. Fogel, Robert William, 2000. "The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226256627.
    4. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce I. Sacerdote, 2008. "Education and Religion," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(2), pages 188-215.
    5. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Persuasion in Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 435-439, May.
    6. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
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    Cited by:

    1. David Autor & David Dorn & Gordon Hanson & Kaveh Majlesi, 2016. "Importing Political Polarization? The Electoral Consequences of Rising Trade Exposure," NBER Working Papers 22637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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 146-189, August.
    3. Halberstam, Yosh & Montagnes, B. Pablo, 2015. "Presidential coattails versus the median voter: Senator selection in US elections," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 40-51.
    4. Conconi, Paola & DeRemer, David R. & Kirchsteiger, Georg & Trimarchi, Lorenzo & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2017. "Suspiciously timed trade disputes," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 57-76.
    5. 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.
    6. Jon H. Fiva & Olle Folke & Rune J. Sørensen, 2013. "The Power of Parties," CESifo Working Paper Series 4119, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Makowsky, Michael D., 2011. "Religion, clubs, and emergent social divides," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 74-87.
    8. Matthew Gentzkow & Nathan Petek & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2015. "Do Newspapers Serve The State? Incumbent Party Influence On The Us Press, 1869–1928," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 29-61, February.
    9. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2011. "Ideological Segregation Online and Offline," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1799-1839.
    10. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro & Matt Taddy, 2016. "Measuring Group Differences in High-Dimensional Choices: Method and Application to Congressional Speech," NBER Working Papers 22423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Abdul Munasib & Devesh Roy, 2008. "Socializing Interactions and Social Attitude Formation," Economics Working Paper Series 0802, Oklahoma State University, Department of Economics and Legal Studies in Business.
    12. Pierce, Lamar & Rogers, Todd & Snyder, Jason A., 2015. "Losing Hurts: The Happiness Impact of Partisan Electoral Loss," Working Paper Series rwp14-051, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    13. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2014. "Competition and Ideological Diversity: Historical Evidence from US Newspapers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(10), pages 3073-3114, October.
    14. Klor, Esteban F. & Shayo, Moses, 2010. "Social identity and preferences over redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(3-4), pages 269-278, April.
    15. Edward L. Glaeser & Cass R. Sunstein, 2007. "Extremism and Social Learning," NBER Working Papers 13687, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Levernier, William & Barilla, Anthony G., 2006. "The Effect of Region, Demographics, and Economic Characteristics on County-Level Voting Patterns in the 2000 Presidential Election," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 36(3), pages 427-447.
    17. repec:spr:jecfin:v:41:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s12197-017-9389-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. 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).
    19. 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.
    20. 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.
    21. Hillman, Arye L., 2010. "Expressive behavior in economics and politics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 403-418, December.

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