Probing the reds and blues: Sectionalism and voter location in the 2000 and 2004 U. S. presidential elections

Seth C. McKee, Jeremy M. Teigen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The election outcomes of a place hinge largely on what is within its political boundaries: economic, social, cultural, and other compositional factors facing voters. Yet, it is also important to investigate geographic context, both within and between places. This study presents renewed emphasis on two geographic factors that relate to electoral outcomes while controlling for compositional attributes: sectional distinctions and population density. Within different regions of the United States and across different locations (urban, suburban, and rural residents), there exist notable differences in presidential voting. Using survey and county-level data on the 2000 and 2004 U.S. presidential elections, this study evaluates the partisan preferences of voters from a regional perspective, and from a density perspective. The findings demonstrate independent relationships between section and voting, and location and voting. A major consequence of the distinctiveness of section and location in the face of migration effects (as noted by others) is the increased spatial polarization of the electorate's political preferences in these recent presidential contests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-495
Number of pages12
JournalPolitical Geography
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Polarization
  • Population density
  • Regional voting
  • U.S. presidential elections


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