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George Hawley, "Home affordability, female marriage rates and vote choice in the 2000 US presidential election: Evidence from US counties," Party Politics, 18 (September 2012), 771-789. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
Two important developments in American politics in recent decades involve political sorting. In a process that began in the 1970s, political conservatives and liberals have, for the most part, joined the Republican and Democratic Parties, respectively, which, many scholars argue, subsequently led to increasing ideological homogeneity within the parties and higher levels of partisan polarization. The other major sort is geographic in nature. Many regions of the country have become, to a significant extent, politically homogeneous, with an increasing number of counties consistently giving landslide victories to presidential candidates of one major political party or the other. The first major political sort - which led most individuals to align with the 'correct' political party based on their ideological inclinations - has been well examined and explained. The latter political sort has also been well described. However, up to this point, relatively little scholarship has examined the causal mechanism driving the geographic sorting of the population by partisan affiliation. Why do some regions prove a magnet for Democrats, and some draw increasing numbers of Republicans?

Figures and Tables:
Figure 1. Marriage age and support for Bush by state.
Figure 2. Support for Bush at the county level in 2000.
Figure 3. Median income-median home value ratio in 2000.
Table 1. County-level spatial lag models 2000
Table 2. Individual-level multilevel logit models

Last Paragraph:
Returning to the original, narrower, question this article addressed, the findings presented here indicate that political scientists attempting to forecast future electoral trends and to understand the causes of the geographic sort in the US should pay attention to trends in housing markets and in family formation. As this line of research develops, it may turn out that housing prices are a useful tool for estimating whether a region, state, county or city is trending in the long-term toward the Republicans or the Democrats. This research also underscores the complex relationship between these and related variables in regard to aggregate vote choice, which suggests that scholars must be cautious in using any one of these variables to infer future trends.

Last updated August 2012