When (If) you read this NYT article on why some states are “red” and some states are “blue”:
But why do ideology and geography cluster so predictably? Why, if you know a person’s position on gay marriage, can you predict that he or she will want to increase the military budget and decrease the tax rate, and is more likely to hail from Wyoming or Georgia than from Minnesota or Vermont? To be sure, some of these affinities may spring from coalitions of convenience. Economic libertarians and Christian evangelicals, united by their common enemy, are strange bedfellows in today’s Republican party, just as the two Georges — the archconservative Wallace and the uberliberal McGovern — found themselves in the same Democratic Party in 1972.
I think there are a couple of things you should keep in mind.
First, even the bluest states are not uniformly blue. The idea of a Blue North and a Red South is erroneous. Take the county by county 2008 presidential election results for New York for example. Simple analyses like those used by the author of the NYT article just don’t stand up to scrutiny. The same is true of Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and many, many other states.
Neither are red states really red. See Mississippi. That’s easily explained by demographics but I don’t need to belabor the point.
There is an element of truth in it, however. I don’t think that you can explain today’s voting patterns by the Church of England/Nonconformist split of the 17th and 18th centuries. But you don’t have to look back that far. When people come to the United States they bring their ideas about social organization and politics with them. This is territory I’ve covered before. The Irish brought their ideas of proper governance, based on the systems that prevailed in Irish villages, and refurbished them for New York and Chicago. Scandinavians brought their ideas of what constituted a just society from Scandinavia of the 19th century to the Upper Midwest. And so on.
There are other, pragmatic, bread-and-butter reasons, too. That’s fodder for another post.