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The Disconnected Demos: Little Evidence for an American “Big Sort"
Unformatted Document Text:  2    Abstract One argument that has attracted considerable attention in the academic world and in the popular press involves the idea of geographic sorting. This line of thinking is one which argues that Americans have increasingly begun to gradually self-select into more like-minded communities at microscopic levels of society. More specifically, America has long been a highly mobile and transient society and this fact, according to scholars and popular writers alike, has recently led people to cluster in communities of other like-minded individuals for Americans appear to be seeking out those who are most like themselves in residential decision-making. As a result, proponents of political-geographic sorting argue that American communities (and states) are growing more like-minded politically and socially and this has led to increasing polarization and social division. This paper challenges the idea that Americans are spatially sorting on political grounds. While crude and superficial measures suggest that Americans are dividing themselves politically, I demonstrate that a more careful, nuanced, and detailed analysis of American’s mobility trends, their attitudes toward their neighbors and communities, their built environments, and their political behavior and actual voting trends simply do not square with the idea that Americans are that politically connected and thus are increasingly moving to and living in areas that happen to match up with their political ideology. Taking advantage of a number of new electoral and geographic data sets, this paper will empirically demonstrate that Americans are not engaged in what Bill Bishop argues has been a post-Reagan era “Big Sort.”

Authors: Abrams, Samuel.
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Abstract 
 
 
One argument that has attracted considerable attention in the academic world and in the popular press 
involves the idea of geographic sorting. This line of thinking is one which argues that Americans have 
increasingly begun to gradually self-select into more like-minded communities at microscopic levels of 
society. More specifically, America has long been a highly mobile and transient society and this fact, 
according to scholars and popular writers alike, has recently led people to cluster in communities of other 
like-minded individuals for Americans appear to be seeking out those who are most like themselves in 
residential decision-making. As a result, proponents of political-geographic sorting argue that American 
communities (and states) are growing more like-minded politically and socially and this has led to 
increasing polarization and social division. This paper challenges the idea that Americans are spatially 
sorting on political grounds. While crude and superficial measures suggest that Americans are dividing 
themselves politically, I demonstrate that a more careful, nuanced, and detailed analysis of American’s 
mobility trends, their attitudes toward their neighbors and communities, their built environments, and 
their political behavior and actual voting trends simply do not square with the idea that Americans are that 
politically connected and thus are increasingly moving to and living in areas that happen to match up with 
their political ideology. Taking advantage of a number of new electoral and geographic data sets, this 
paper will empirically demonstrate that Americans are not engaged in what Bill Bishop argues has been a 
post-Reagan era “Big Sort.”


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