Through The Static

June 20, 2008

Political Segregation

Filed under: Culture,Drinking,Politics — disciplepete @ 12:51 am

Article from The Economist about how the U.S. is already notably and becoming increasingly segregated along political lines.

SOME folks in Texas recently decided to start a new community “containing 100% Ron Paul supporters”. Mr Paul is a staunch libertarian and, until recently, a Republican presidential candidate. His most ardent fans are invited to build homesteads in “Paulville”, an empty patch of west Texas. Here, they will be free. Free not to pay “for other people’s lifestyles [they] may not agree with”. And free from the irksome society of those who do not share their love of liberty.

Cynics chuckle, and even Mr Paul sounds unenthusiastic about the Paulville project, in which he had no hand. But his followers’ desire to segregate themselves is not unusual. Americans are increasingly forming like-minded clusters. Conservatives are choosing to live near other conservatives, and liberals near liberals.

A good way to measure this is to look at the country’s changing electoral geography. In 1976 Jimmy Carter won the presidency with 50.1% of the popular vote. Though the race was close, some 26.8% of Americans were in “landslide counties” that year, where Mr Carter either won or lost by 20 percentage points or more.

The proportion of Americans who live in such landslide counties has nearly doubled since then. In the dead-heat election of 2000, it was 45.3%. When George Bush narrowly won re-election in 2004, it was a whopping 48.3%. As the playwright Arthur Miller put it that year: “How can the polls be neck and neck when I don’t know one Bush supporter?” Clustering is how.

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