Migration and Politics: The Impact of Population Mobility on American Voting Behavior

By Thad A. Brown | Go to book overview

Appendix B
Local Political Environment

Several coding and analysis decisions about the construction of the local political environment variables were made in the course of the research. The aggregate time series, historical data described in Appendix A are used to measure political environmental change for the 1970 and 1980 NES surveys and the Youth-Parent survey. In all, six contextual variables were constructed to measure an individual's present and past political environments.

For each case, the reported city and state of the previous residence recorded on the interview protocol was recoded to the actual county and state. Respondents living in places outside the United States were excluded from the analysis. Partisan contexts were coded for those who changed counties of residence or who had never migrated. Both congressional and presidential election returns at the county level were used to estimate the previous political environment and the current environment at the time the individual migrated, and both county- and congressional district--level data were used to estimate the current environment at the time of the interview.

The coding for the contextual variables was conducted at UCLA in 1981 and 1982. In the NES cross-sectional studies from 1970 and 1980, the previous local political environment is the average of the returns over four congressional elections prior to an individual's migration. The current environment at the time of the migration is measured as the county average of the four congressional elections after migration. The current at the time of the interview is coded as the average of the three congressional elections prior to the interview plus the election outcome for the year in which the study was conducted. In the 1980 NES panel series, P1 wave, the current at time of the interview was for four elections prior to but not including 1980. The P1 wave began in January 1980, and hence the previous election provided a clearer fix on the nature of the environment than would one still eleven months away. The scores were in terms of the percent voting Democratic.

For congressional coding for the previous environment, if the individual moved in 1954 from Glenn County, California, to Lane County, Oregon, and was interviewed in 1980 in Lane County, the case would be coded as follows: the previous residence in Glenn County would be coded as the county's congressional outcome averaged over 1948, 1950, 1952, and 1954. The current at the time of migration would be coded for Lane County as the county's

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