Myths and Realities of American Political Geography

48 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2006 Last revised: 10 Jun 2009

See all articles by Edward L. Glaeser

Edward L. Glaeser

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Bryce Adam Ward

Harvard University - Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2005

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. and Ward, Bryce Adam, Myths and Realities of American Political Geography (December 2005). NBER Working Paper No. w11857. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=872720

Edward L. Glaeser (Contact Author)

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Bryce Adam Ward

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