The growing divide

Bill Bishop has a series begun called The Great Divide. It's really great stuff, very in-depth and statistically backed. Not the kind of shallow commentary that we usually get from the Red-Blue crapola that's served up. The site has got a registration, but worth the feed of whatever demo's you want to give.

Here's a few of his points in a latest:

The fastest growing kind of segregation in the United States isn't racial. It is the segregation between Republicans and Democrats.

The political division found by the Statesman and its statistical consultant, Robert Cushing, is a change from the recent past. From the end of World War II until the mid-1970s, U.S. counties became more and more politically mixed, based on presidential voting. Through the 1950s and '60s, Americans were more likely to live in a community with an even mixture of Republicans and Democrats.

In 1976, when Democrat Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford by only two percentage points, 26.8 percent of American voters lived in counties with landslide presidential election results, where one party had 60 percent or more of the vote.

Twenty-four years and six presidential elections later, when George Bush and Al Gore were virtually tied nationally, 45.3 percent of voters lived in a landslide county.

And from Timothy Noah on Slate:
Bishop blames this heightened partisanship on the proliferation of "landslide counties." He defines a landslide county as one in which the presidential nominee of one party receives at least 60 percent of the vote. In 1976, 26.8 percent of American voters lived in landslide counties. By 2000, that proportion had nearly doubled, to 45.3 percent.

And it's getting worse. The GOP has a lot more landslide counties where the partisan imbalance continues to widen (939) than do the Democrats (158). But because the Democrats' landslide counties are much likelier to be more populous urban counties, the aggregate number of growing-landslide-county Democrats (15.2 million, or 14 percent of the national vote) comes out roughly the same as the aggregate number of growing-landslide-county Republicans (16.5 million, or 16 percent of the national vote).

On Bishop's blog, a reader notes that the statistics speak of voters, not residents, and this is a valid point. Who knows what 51% of the other people believe? It makes sense, not wanting to participate in a system of de facto minority defeats, that they don't even bother to vote if they live on the opposite side in a landslide county. If they did bother, the first thing they'd probably choose to do, if they could, would be to move to a place where their partisan vote wasn't so frustrated.

Thanks to Mathew Langer for the heads-up. As noted recently, this partisan divide is probably responsible for the continuing trend of The Great Opt-Out as well.

Tags: Demographics (all tags)

Comments

2 Comments

Voluntary political segregation?
Is this some kind of voluntary political segregation?  It sure seems to be happening in metro Atlanta -- conservatives move to the northern suburbs, Cobb and Gwinnett, and liberals move to Fulton and DeKalb counties.  The lines between Gingrich country and John Lewis territory are clearly drawn, and aren't just urban/suburban.
by derekoja 2004-04-08 02:54PM | 0 recs
Thanks for this link...
I keep wondering who, exactly, it is that actively supports Bush -- I mean, I've never met anyone who genuinely thinks he's doing a great job. I've met people who sympathize with him, and make excuses for him, but I don't know any actual Zealots for Bush.

I knew that living in northwest Vermont has insulated me from rightwingery to a fair extent, but I had no idea this sort of self-selected political clumping was part of a larger trend in the U.S. Looking at this situation in terms of segregation is provocative, and I'm intrigued to know more.

There goes today's productivity!

by Robin 2004-04-09 05:39AM | 0 recs

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