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Political Polarization and Income Inequality

By Nolan McCarty, Keith T. Poole and Howard Rosenthal. Reading for week of February 8, 2005.

Using U.S. data from 1952 to 2002, we explore the relationship between income and partisan self-identification.  Partisanship and presidential vote choice have become more stratified by income.  We argue that this is the consequence of polarization of the parties on economic issues and the development of a two-party system in the South.  The trend is much less a reflection of increased economic inequality.  Voter behavior has adjusted to the large increases in real income in the last half of the twentieth century.  If voters in 2000 were voting as if real average income were only that of 1960, partisanship would have swung strongly in the Republicans' favor.

Download File: PERG.mccarty.pdf

Center for Comparative and Global Research