Migration and political polarization in the U.S.: An analysis of the county-level migration network

Autoři: Xi Liu aff001;  Clio Andris aff001;  Bruce A. Desmarais aff002
Působiště autorů: Department of Geography, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, United States of America aff001;  Department of Political Science, The Institute for CyberScience, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, United States of America aff002
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(11)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225405


Research question

From gridlock in lawmaking to shortened holiday family dinners, partisan polarization pervades social and political life in the United States. We study the degree to which the dynamics of partisan polarization can be observed in patterns of county-to-county migration in the U.S. Specifically, we ask whether migration follows patterns that would lead individuals to homogeneous or heterogeneous partisan exposure, using annual county-to-county migration networks from 2002 to 2015. Adjusting for a host of factors, including geographic distance, population, and economic variables, we test the degree to which migration flows connect counties with similar political preferences.


Our central finding is that over the period studied, county-to-county migration flows connect counties with similar partisan voting profiles. Moreover, partisan sorting is most pronounced among the most politically extreme counties. The implication of this finding in the context of partisanship is that U.S. migration patterns reinforce partisan sorting, limiting the degree to which individuals will experience cross-the-aisle local social contacts through spatial interaction. This finding builds on existing research that has documented (1) that individuals prefer to move to and live in locations inhabited by co-partisans, and (2) that local geographic areas have become more polarized in recent decades. Our results indicate that large scale patterns of polarized migration flows serve as a potential mechanism that contributes to geographic partisan polarization.

Klíčová slova:

Animal migration – Census – Economic geography – Economics of migration – Elections – Network analysis – Unemployment rates – United States


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Článek vyšel v časopise


2019 Číslo 11