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Are we self-segregating by partisanship?

Monday, Aug 15, 2011

* The New York Times had an interesting story over the weekend about how Americans have allegedly intentionally self-segregated by ideology

“Americans are self-segregating,” said Bill Bishop, author of “The Big Sort,” a 2008 book that examined, in the words of its subtitle, “why the clustering of like-minded America is tearing us apart.”

Mr. Bishop said Americans now choose “in their neighborhoods and their churches, to be around others who live like they do and think like they do — and, every four years, vote like they do.” He tested his thesis with an examination of the shifting geography of presidential politics, beginning in 1976, when Jimmy Carter won the presidency by the slimmest of margins, with 50.1 percent of the vote.

That year, 26.8 percent of Americans lived in “landslide counties,” which voted either Democratic or Republican by 20 percentage points or more. By 2000, when Al Gore and George W. Bush split the popular vote, 45.3 percent of Americans lived in landslide counties. In 2008, the figure was 47.6 percent.

Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University, reported the same phenomenon at the state level in his book “The Disappearing Center.” In the 1960s and 1970s, he said, big states like New York, California, Illinois and Texas were evenly split in presidential elections, making them battlegrounds. “Now,” Mr. Abramowitz said, “a lot of the big states are lopsided.”

Political clustering is reflected in religious participation and even shopping choices. David Wasserman, of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, recently calculated that 89 percent of the Whole Foods stores in the United States were in counties carried by Barack Obama in 2008, while 62 percent of Cracker Barrel restaurants were in counties carried by John McCain.

Much of this is due to people moving. But some, at least here in Illinois, is also due to changing attitudes. For various reasons, people have hardened their partisan positions here, particularly since the 2000 election of George W. Bush and George Ryan’s troubles afterward. That softened considerably last year during the governor’s race and the biggest GOP landslide since 1946, but not quite enough to unseat the Democratic governor. A decade ago, the Republicans were considered the governing party in this state. No longer.

…Adding… From a commenter…

It is a lot likelier that the parties are sorting their respective appeals by geography than people are basing living decisions on partisan preference.

* Meanwhile, Sen. Dick Durbin is endorsing Tammy Duckworth for Congress

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will take sides in a Democratic House primary and endorse Tammy Duckworth over rival Raja Krishnamoorthi on Monday during a press conference in Elk Grove Village, several sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Durbin endorsement was expected and is not surprising, as the contest in the newly remapped northwest suburban eighth congressional district heats up. Durbin’s move comes as Krishnamoorthi, a business executive and former deputy treasurer, and Duckworth head into what may be the marquee Illinois Democratic matchup in the March primary.

Durbin is a longtime political patron of Duckworth, a former assistant secretary of public and intergovernmental affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs who ran the Illinois state veterans department.

Krishnamoorthi’s response…

“I respect Senator Durbin, but the economic suffering millions of Americans face today means this election will be decided by the candidate who best demonstrates a depth of experience, passion, and ideas for creating jobs and helping the middle class. I respectfully submit that candidate will be me.”

* And the Daily Herald has a piece about Congressman Joe Walsh’s reelection that relies heavily on commentary from Kent Redfield

In the best of circumstances, Redfield said, having a candidate with a messy financial past run on a platform of fiscal conservatism, “is a huge problem. If you want to you can really make it a metaphor for larger issues,” he said.

In order to be a viable candidate, Walsh must, Redfield said, resolve the child support issue.

“What you really need at this point is if you’ve got the ex-wife on the same stage saying everything is fine, or we worked it out and divorce is hard but he really cares for his kids, etc.,” he said.

How effective he is in getting the issue behind him and rebuilding his image is going to have a “huge impact on whether he’s going to be able to compete,” Redfield said.

There is, however, another dynamic not explored here. Many die-hard Republican adherents have adopted a “victimization” mentality. Media hits are successfully brushed aside as the “lamestream media” working on behalf of liberal Democrats. That attitude, if successfully mined, is Walsh’s clearest path to victory. The line will be that he stuck up for his principles and was then kneecapped by the liberals.

* Related…

* New political map means new faces in GA

* Obama heads to Illinois to rally voters on midwestern bus tour

* Speaker John Boehner to fundraise for Schock

* Boland enters crowded contest for Illinois’ 17th Congressional district

* Council’s Lack of Debate Surprises Chinese Interns: This summer, a group of college students from China interned at the office of the city clerk, Susana Mendoza, and found City Hall, well, a lot different from what they were used to at home. But their comparisons may not be what some Americans would expect. “I’m surprised to see there is no debate in the Council meeting,” said Yana Huang. “There is some debate, even confrontation, in the council meetings in Hong Kong, but everything goes peaceful here.”

* Warren: A Diverse Ward’s New Leader

- Posted by Rich Miller        

20 Comments
  1. - 47th Ward - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 1:12 pm:

    I think we self-segregate by socio-economic class and race more than political ideology, but the latter is a reflection of the former. I won’t set foot in a Whole Paycheck although there are several in my neighborhood, and I love Cracker Barrel, but can’t seem to find one nearby.

    Do people who value overpriced organic produce also value human rights more than those who shop at Jewel? Do people who love enormous vats of cheddar cheese also love smaller government?

    I think this is a correlation story, but agree it is interesting. I’m just not sure what it means.


  2. - Dirt Digger - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 1:14 pm:

    It is a lot likelier that the parties are sorting their respective appeals by geography than people are basing living decisions on partisan preference.


  3. - Pat collins - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 1:20 pm:

    college students from China interned at the office of the city clerk, Susana Mendoza, and found City Hall, well, a lot different from what they were used to at home.

    Yes, China is less of a “strong man” rule than Chicago. So shocking!!


  4. - Rich Miller - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 1:21 pm:

    They’re actually from Hong Kong, PC, but point well taken.


  5. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 1:22 pm:

    I value human rights and won’t shop at Whole Foods because of that. Jewel has overpriced organic produce and manages to pay a living wage.


  6. - Small Town Liberal - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 1:26 pm:

    - 89 percent of the Whole Foods stores in the United States were in counties carried by Barack Obama in 2008, while 62 percent of Cracker Barrel restaurants were in counties carried by John McCain. -

    Seems like the Democrats have a more thought out plan to keep their base healthy and around for a while…


  7. - TD - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 1:27 pm:

    I think it’d be interesting to see if partisan redistricting affects personal ideologies. Say, for example, you’re in a relatively Democratic town in downstate Illinois but you get drawn into a rock solid GOP district, does being in an area with a popular GOP Congressman, State Senator, and State Rep make you more likely to soften Democratic views and join the local ‘winning team’? Of course, the same question would apply to Republican-leaning areas who find themselves in the minority, say at the suburban or rural tip of an urban, Democratic stronghold district.


  8. - MrJM - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 1:37 pm:

    Vote Walsh: His Children Are Victimizing Him!

    – MrJM


  9. - OneMan - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 1:38 pm:

    - 89 percent of the Whole Foods stores in the United States were in counties carried by Barack Obama in 2008, while 62 percent of Cracker Barrel restaurants were in counties carried by John McCain.

    I thought Cracker Barrels were generally near interstate exits, I don’t think the same is true for whole foods.


  10. - bored now - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 1:48 pm:

    down here in the south suburbs (up here to a small number of you), we call it red-lining. more people may know it by the term, “white flight.” if someone wants to sanitize it by calling it “the big sort,” i guess that says everything we need to know…


  11. - mokenavince - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 2:12 pm:

    We segregate by income,not by race that’s the way I see it. The Jim Crow days are over. Thank God.


  12. - Mathemagician - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 2:19 pm:

    Correlation does not equal causation. For an amusing explanation, read this story about Mexican lemon imports reducing the highway fatality rate: http://scienceblogs.com/commonknowledge/2009/04/mexican_lemons_prevent_highway.php. We are no more segregated by ideology than we were 100 years ago


  13. - shore - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 2:33 pm:

    The suntimes has spent more ink on mr.walsh’s child support issues than they have the rest of the states republican politicians combined this year. It would not kill them to broaden their coverage, just a bit. To its credit the daily herald has been a bit better, but they’ve given that story much more attention than it needs or deserves.

    There’s no way raja and duckworth can be taken seriously on the economy given their springfield and in her case obama administration backgrounds neither of which have been successful at creating jobs.


  14. - Ghost - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 2:36 pm:

    I would suggst that people tend to be influenced by their friends and community, so you tend to see shared viewpoints centered around people who interact with each other. Its a conlfux of a community that over time oppinions chnage to mirror those in the community.


  15. - 47th Ward - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 2:40 pm:

    Shore, I don’t disagree with you that the S-T is spilling a lot of ink on Walsh’s child support issue. But Walsh basically said they lied, so the continued coverage is not suprising. If Walsh hadn’t called the S-T out, they might discover there are other Members of Congress in Illinois, including a junior Senator, who remains woefully undercovered if you ask me.


  16. - bored now - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 5:39 pm:

    shore demonstrates the blatant hypocrisy of today’s republicans. first they argue that government can’t create jobs (an outright lie, but that’s another discussion) and then they have the audacity to claim that, ” given their springfield and in her case obama administration backgrounds neither of which have been successful at creating jobs.”

    look, joe walsh is an idiot, and he’s a great example of a candidate who wins only because of a wave election and loses in the next cycle. he’s a goner. there is no need to waste our time over this pol who won’t even be remembered after 2012…


  17. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 8:22 pm:

    “If Walsh hadn’t called the S-T out, they might discover there are other Members of Congress in Illinois, including a junior Senator, who remains woefully undercovered if you ask me.”

    Oh yeah.


  18. - anon - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 8:26 pm:

    congrats to Duckworth


  19. - lost in translation - Monday, Aug 15, 11 @ 9:42 pm:

    I hope Duckworth does better than Durbin’s last pick, Alexi.


  20. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 16, 11 @ 5:09 am:

    ==But Walsh basically said they lied, so the continued coverage is not suprising. If Walsh hadn’t called the S-T out, they might discover there are other Members of Congress in Illinois, including a junior Senator, who remains woefully undercovered if you ask me. –

    That’s all part of the Top Secret plan, my friend. And that’s Sen. Junior 007 to you.

    All I can say, is that I wouldn’t want to be Osama Bin Laden right now.

    Osama’s what? Really? How about Saddam Hussein? Him, too? How about Lord Voldemort? Really? That Khan guy in the Star Trek movies? Sigh.

    No worries though. I saw Sen. Kirk had to cut short his time at the state fair to put on his reservist uniform.

    While many reservists have to leave their families and jobs and go on year-long tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, Sen. Kirk seems to fulfill his duty with weekends at the Pentagon or the occasional couple of weeks in Italy. Just unlucky, I guess.

    He should end that charade. He makes a fool of himself and disrespects the service of others by putting on the uniform and pretending to be making the same sacrifices as the real reservists.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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