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The Political Segregation of U.S. Cities

Not all urban dwellers are as liberal as conventional wisdom would have us believe.
May 21, 2019, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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The Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson.
Sean Pavone

Rachael Dottle presents maps and data on the political segregation of U.S. cities, working to debunk one narrative about the political realities of big cities. That is, just because Democrats tend to win most of the votes in big cities, doesn't mean that there aren't any Republicans living in urban settings.

"Much has been made of the country’s urban-rural political divide, but almost every Democratic city has Republican enclaves, especially when you think about cities as more than just their downtowns," writes Dottle.

"It’s a sign of our polarized times that these Republicans aren’t evenly distributed across the city, of course. But it’s also a sign of how centuries of American history have shaped and continue to shape where we live — and who our neighbors are."

According to map that illustrates U.S. Census Bureau data, metropolitan areas get much more Republican where regions get less dense.

The article also adds a new wrinkle to this map-based analysis by creating a dissimilarity index: "basically, a number that tells us how separated its Republicans and Democrats are from one another, with higher numbers indicating more segregation."

According to that index, the most politically segregated cities in the country are mostly found in the South. Jackson, Mississippi and then New Orleans lead the list. The first appearance of a city outside of the South is New York City at number ten.

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Published on Monday, May 20, 2019 in FiveThirtyEight
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