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Polarization and American Geography


For some reason I’m fascinated by this recent survey of people’s perception of states. I’m not surprised that the most popular state among Republicans is Florida — the number of people with money who voluntarily choose to live in a state whose only decentish urban area will be underwater in 20 years is one of the issues on which I feel most alienated from the typical American — but the 12 point margin over the runner-up surprised me a little.

The top 10 among Republicans: FL, AZ, AK, KY, TX, MT, GA, SC, NE, NC. The choices do improve considerably after #1, some nice states there. Of course, there’s an inherent problem in ranking states as opposed to regions within states — I’d be happy to be assigned to KY if I could live in Lexington or Louisville, otherwise rather massively less so.

The top 10 among Democrats is, of course, a much stronger list: HI, CA, OR, VA, CO, NY, WA, PA, VT, NH. Mostly nice and nothing awful although not sure how New Hampshire made the top 10.

Underwater among both Republicans and Dems: OH, IN, WI, LA, ID, ND, plus DC. A little unfair to Wisconsin granting that it’s no longer a democracy. Also a little surprised by Idaho, which offers a nice little city for liberals in Boisie and hardcore wingnuttery in a beautiful setting up north — seems like many worse places. I don’t actually think Ohio is literally bottom 6 either, but its presence is sort of obligatory for cultural reasons.

Five biggest partisan gaps on states Republicans prefer: KY, AL, MS, OK, FL

Five biggest partisan gaps the other way: CA, OR, WA, NY, HI (plus DC.) Hey, if you want to convince yourself that Oklahoma is nicer than any of those states it’s your funeral.

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