Inadvertent and intentional partisan residential sorting

Abstract

We present evidence for two mechanisms that can explain increasing geographic divide of partisan preferences. The first is “inadvertent sorting,” where people express a preference for residential environments with features that just happen to be correlated with partisanship. The second is “intentional sorting,” where people do consider partisanship directly. We argue that the accumulating political biases visible in many neighborhoods can be the effect of some mixture of these two mechanisms. Because residential relocation often involves practical constraints and neighborhood racial composition is more important than partisanship, there is less partisan segregation across the USA than there could be based on residential preference alone.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    YouGov. Palo Alto, California. https://today.yougov.com/about/, accessed July 8, 2016.

  2. 2.

    For sampling design of the CCES surveys and a list of studies published using these surveys, see http://projects.iq.harvard.edu/cces/home.

  3. 3.

    The descriptive statistics for these nine items are presented in Fig. 7 of “Appendix.”

  4. 4.

    Specifically, we estimated the model using the R package, poLCA. Similar to other kinds of clustering techniques, deciding on the number of groups poses the most challenging empirical decision. Based on our judgement, we decided on the four-group model by reading through all summary statistics, including a conditional item response probabilities matrix, latent class regression results and distribution of predicted classes. We decided that four groups make the more intuitive sense than three groups as the additional class separates the “no opinion” respondents from those who hold mixed or ambivalent views.

  5. 5.

    Zip codes are a system of postal codes used by the US Postal service to deliver mails efficiently. According to mapszipcode.com, there are about 33,000 zip codes in the USA. The smallest zip code is only 0.0032 square miles and the largest one is 13,431 square miles. The average land area of a zip code is about 90 square miles. Population across zip codes varies significantly. The most populated zip code in Puerto Rico has over 144,000 residents and the smallest zip code in Montana only has one resident. An average zip code has about 7600 residents.

  6. 6.

    We obtained the zip code-level data from this site: http://blog.splitwise.com/2014/01/06/free-us-population-density-and-unemployment-rate-by-zip-code/.

  7. 7.

    Our respondents for our two YouGov surveys are spread out geographically with a majority residing in densely populated zip codes in cities and suburbs. In our sample, over 90% of the zip codes only have a single respondent. About 8% of zip codes have between two and three respondents. The most “populated” zip code, 97701, has four respondents. Because we have slightly fewer than 2000 respondents scattered across fifty states, there are insufficient cases to conduct within state analyses. In addition, because we have very few respondents within each zip code, the responses are not representative at the zip code level and cannot be used to conduct reliable spatial analyses.

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Correspondence to James G. Gimpel.

Appendix

Appendix

See Tables 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and Fig. 7.

Table 4 Descriptive statistics of CCES surveys
Table 5 Regression results from the latent class analysis of place preference (complete results)
Table 6 Conditional item response probabilities from latent class regression
Table 7 Kolmogorov–Smirnov tests
Table 8 Complete results from the list experiment on neighbor similarity
Fig. 7
figure7

Average responses to the nine place preference items. Note: the five-point Likert scale is recoded where \(-2\) and \(-1\) indicate “strongly disagree” and “disagree”; zero indicates neutral position and “agree” and “strongly agree” are coded 1 and 2. The dots represent the sample averages and the symbols (“D”, “R”) show the means among Democratic and Republican identifiers. Democrats, on average, have more favorable impression of big cities than Republicans

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Gimpel, J.G., Hui, I. Inadvertent and intentional partisan residential sorting. Ann Reg Sci 58, 441–468 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00168-016-0802-5

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