Stephen Ansolabehere, Harvard University: The Geography of Racial Voting

Feb 2, 2023, 12:00 pm1:20 pm
Faculty, fellows, and graduate students only


Event Description

Debates over racial voting, and over policies to combat vote dilution, turn on the extent to which groups’ voting preferences differ and vary across geography. We present the first study of racial voting patterns in every congressional district in the US. Using large-sample surveys combined with aggregate demographic and election data, we find that national-level differences across racial groups explain 60 percent of the variation in district-level voting patterns, while geography explains 30 percent. Black voters consistently choose Democratic candidates across districts, while Hispanic and White voters’ preferences vary considerably across geography. Districts with the highest racial polarization are concentrated in the parts of the South and Midwest. Importantly, multi-racial coalitions have become the norm: in most congressional districts, the winner’s majority requires support from minority voters. In arriving at these conclusions, we make methodological innovations that improve the precision and accuracy when modeling sparse survey data.

Center for the Study of Democratic Politics (CSDP)