Polls and Elections: Southern Discomfort? Regional Differences in Voter Decision Making in the 2000 Presidential Election

By Hillygus, D. Sunshine; Shields, Todd | Presidential Studies Quarterly, September 2008 | Go to article overview

Polls and Elections: Southern Discomfort? Regional Differences in Voter Decision Making in the 2000 Presidential Election


Hillygus, D. Sunshine, Shields, Todd, Presidential Studies Quarterly


The contemporary American South continues to experience dramatic changes in population, economics, and partisanship that have fundamentally altered the political landscape of not only the region but the entire nation. The wide-ranging effects of these developments on electoral behavior are not entirely understood, but it is unquestionable that the New South remains as important in American politics--particularly presidential elections--as the Old South. With nearly two-thirds of the Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency, the South is a considerable electoral prize. (1) More than a decade ago, Black and Black concluded that "as the united South goes: so goes the nation" (1992, 344). It is no coincidence that the only Democrats to win the presidency since 1960 have hailed from former Confederate states (Lyndon B. Johnson from Texas, Jimmy Carter from Georgia, and Bill Clinton from Arkansas). Despite the critical political relevance of the region, Southern voting behavior has been an understudied area research. (2) To be sure, there is a rich descriptive literature detailing voting trends in the contemporary South (e.g., Black and Black 1992, 2003). Missing, however, is a comprehensive empirical study of the individual-level underpinnings of Southern voting behavior--not only how Southern voters compare to the rest of the electorate but also how they match up to our general theories of political behavior. (3)

Existing research has long noted that residents of America's Southern states demonstrate unique patterns of voting behavior--ranging from a substantially lower propensity to register and vote, to an increased likelihood of casting split-ticket ballots (i.e., most often voting for Republican presidential candidates and Democratic congressional candidates), to the transformation from a Democratic stronghold to an increasingly loyal Republican base in recent years (Burden and Kimball 2002; Frymer, Kim, and Bimes 1997; Wattenberg 2002). Empirical models of political behavior regularly include a "South" dummy variable to account for this Southern distinctiveness (e.g., Alvarez and Nagler 1998). Ultimately, however, an indicator variables tells us nothing about why Southern voters are unique or even what factors influence their singular patterns of political behavior. Are these trends attributable to simple differences in the distribution of fundamentals (such as demographics, ideological perspective, or partisan affiliation), or are the decision-making processes of Southern voters actually distinct from the rest of the electorate? More importantly, given the recent partisan realignment of the South, have the distinctive patterns of voting behavior disappeared? Cowden (2001) suggests that we are witnessing the "Southernization of the Nation and the Nationalization of the South." Sharer and Johnston similarly find evidence of "the nationalization of partisan politics" and the "closing of North/South comparisons" (2001, 623). Is the "South" dummy variable no longer necessary in our general models of presidential vote choice and turnout? Answers to these questions will speak not only to our understanding of recent political transformations in the South but also to our theoretical understanding of voter decision making, and even to our expectations about the future strength of the Republican and Democratic parties in the South.

Using survey data from Knowledge Networks in the 2000 election, we compare the voting calculus of Southern and non-Southern voters. Despite arguments that regional differences may be in decline, we find that the voting calculus of Southern voters differs from the rest of the electorate, with ideology weighed more heavily in the vote choice decision in the South. This effect is particularly pronounced among individuals cross-pressured between their party identification and ideological preferences. These findings suggest that general models of voting behavior should more carefully consider the importance of individual-level differences in decision making if we are to gain a full understanding of presidential voting behavior. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Polls and Elections: Southern Discomfort? Regional Differences in Voter Decision Making in the 2000 Presidential Election
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.