The Reversal Of Red And Blue States

1896_2000

In a new paper (pdf), Andrew Gelman scrutinizes that reversal:

We are used to our current political divides, but in many ways the political alignment of 1896 also makes economic sense, with the richer northeastern states supporting more conservative economic policies. Even in a world in which parties have static positions on issues, there is no obvious way that liberal New Yorkers, say, should vote: should they follow the 1896 pattern and support business-friendly policies that favor local industries, or should they vote as they do now and support higher taxes, which ultimately redistribute money to faraway states with more conservative values? A similar conundrum befalls a conservative Mississippian or Kansan in the other direction.

In that sense, it perhaps is plausible that, although economic issues have been and remain most important in any particular election, social issues can be the determining factor that can, over a century, reverse the electoral map.