Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 9, 2013

Sorting the American States into Red and Blue: Culture, Economics, and the 2012 US Presidential Election in Historical Context

Benjamin Highton
From the journal The Forum


This paper analyzes variation in presidential outcomes across the American states from 1972 through 2012. The findings show that differences in cultural policy preferences across the states are more important than economic preferences for explaining state outcomes in 2012. This result fits a long-term trend of the growing importance of cultural issues – absolutely and relative to economic issues – for sorting the states, which has had the effect of rotating the “party cleavage” line that divides the Democratic and Republican parties in presidential elections.

Corresponding author: Benjamin Highton, Professor of Political Science, University of California, Davis

Received: 2012-12-19
Published Online: 2013-02-09

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