Research out of the University of Rhode Island shows that more and more, people are living in communities with a common political view. And the political sorting is becoming more polarized with each election.
Are Republicans and Democrats living side by side? That’s what URI professor Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz wanted to know, so she poured over election data and relocation patterns from 1976 to 2012. She found that communities are becoming more politically polarized, but not because people were moving.
“What our research showed is people really weren’t sure where they fit in the political spectrum, and so they would bounce around between elections,” she said, “and the party ID was not particularly ingrained.”
But once party brands became clear in 1996, people picked a party and stuck with it. More often than not, it was the same party as their neighbors.
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