Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Partisanship Migration

Cho, Wendy and J. Gimpel, I. Hui (2013). Voter Migration and the Geographic Sorting of the American Electorate, Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 103 (4), 856-870.

This article examines migration patterns within the United States of America through the lens of partisanship.
The authors claim that the geographic pattern of partisanship is spatially non-random. While people may not migrate with partisanship in mind, there are factors that correlate to partisanship. Employment opportunities, race, income levels, education and housing are main determinants in migrating, and do correlate to party association.

This study was conducted over a period of fours in seven different states: New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon and Nevada. Voter registration files from 2004, 2006 and 2008 were collected and referenced to gather the data. These states were chosen because they represent two groups of adjacent states, register voters by party and have high-quality, accessible voter registration files.

The study found that more than half of people moved within their county. Democrats moved more frequently than Republicans, but they also comprised a larger share of the registered voters. The authors confirmed a theory that Democrats congregate in more urban areas, while more Republicans moved to suburbs or rural areas. The map below confirms this trend in Portland, Oregon.

Republican migration out of Portland

Democratic migration to Portland 


  1. Right now I'm really trying to get my head around the multiplicity of causes and theoretical approaches in the social sciences, which the article I read last week touched on, and what this semester has really been big on for me. Freshman year and soph, less so, were about becoming aware of those on new levels, but now I'm trying to make them into something that I can actually see as making the world better. That's probably a goal left for the long term if academia is where I'll go but right now it just seems mind-boggling! In regards to maps, how to reconcile the reasons why maps give us the results they do seems like it'll make map analysis really interesting and probably really disheartening at times when my map turns out to have been a waste of time.

  2. I think this study highlights a unique trend and could have interesting implications if re-districting occurs. I think it this also speaks to the values of both parties to a certain extent. Republicans typically favor less government involvement and regulation, which could explain them moving to more rural areas where the government is not necessarily as involved. Due to this, I wonder how much partisanship is involved when one decides to move however I agree that partisanship is most likely not a predominate cause but is an interesting factor to consider studying these patterns.