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Differences in Voting Behavior

Characteristics of Voting Behavior

Characteristics of U.S. Regions

Implications of the Regional Voting Divide


Works Cited



            In the United States, voting in Presidential elections is strongly divided along regional lines.  The Northeast and the West Coast form the strength of the Democratic Partyís support in presidential elections while the South and Mountain West are the base of support for the Republican Party.  The Midwestern states once leaned Democratic but may be undergoing an electoral realignment.  The existence of these regional divides can be attributed to characteristics of the electorate in each region.  Black and other minority voters vote overwhelmingly Democratic, as do Jews, those who do not practice their religion, members and relatives of members of labor unions, those with low education and income levels, those with advanced degrees, and those who live in urban areas.  Republican supporters are likely to be white, strong adherents to a Christian faith denomination, not members of labor unions, college educated with higher incomes, and to live in rural areas.  Populations that exhibit Republican voting characteristics are found in the South and Mountain West, while populations with Democratic voting characteristics were found to exist in the Northeast and Mountain West.  The Midwest population contained characteristics that did not favor either party.  These regional divides in U.S. presidential elections affect where the parties choose their candidates from as well as where the candidates will spend their time campaigning prior to the election.   

An interesting phenomenon that surfaced is that regions with the highest median household incomes voted the most heavily Democratic while the regions with the lowest median household incomes voted the most Republican.  This falls in sharp contrast to the data that shows that the lower the family income the more likely a person is to vote Democratic and the higher the family income the more likely a person is to vote Republican.  More research needs to be done to effectively explain this phenomenon.

                This study does not take into account statistics in the voter characteristics from other years, which may show differences and lead to different conclusions.  It also only focuses on the factors of race, religion, education, income, labor union membership, and urbanization as determinants of voting behavior, ignoring other possible voter characteristics that may influence a personís vote.  Finally, this study pays little attention to the rapidly increasing percentage of the population that is not white, black, or Hispanic.  As these groups continue to grow their effect on the vote will as well.


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Last Updated:  March 28, 2005