Income Inequality, Polarization and Electoral Politics in the United States
Smith, Andrew David
Hisnanick, John J
This paper uses data aggregated from a multitude of publicly available sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureaus of Labor Statistics and Economic Analysis; as well as the accessible repositories of economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Mark Frank to evaluate what relationship exists, if any, between income inequality and Presidential election results, at the state level, from 1972 to 2016. Isolating inequality by holding constant electorally predictive and sociological variables including unemployment and poverty rates, median household income, state GDP per capita change, population density and urban population, race, education and religiosity; as well as year and state fixed effects, I found that a statistically and substantively significant relationship exists between the Gini coefficient and partisan electoral preference, using both an ordinary least squares regression and more tellingly, a fixed effects regression. My analysis suggests that a 1% increase in a state’s Gini coefficient is associated with an increase in the Democratic two-party vote share of 0.119%, holding all other factors in the regression constant. Based on my empirical results and again controlling for fixed effects, I project a 2020 Electoral College Map in which Democrats take back control of the Executive Branch, winning 369 of 538 electoral votes.
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