Migration as an opportunity to register changing partisan loyalty in the United States

Wendy K.Tam Cho, James G. Gimpel, Iris S. Hui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We explore the connection between residential migration choices and political party identification by movers who change their political party registration. We find that an impressive number of migrants choose neighbourhoods that favor their new party of registration. The association between the party change of the migrant and the balance of local partisanship in their new neighborhood cannot be accounted for by a process of neighbourhood socialisation because the move is too recent for socialisation pressures to have operated. It is more likely that the migrant's political transition occurred well before the relocation and shaped the destination search. Relocation offered an opportunity to mark a previously transformed partisan preference on the voter rolls. In this sense, partisan identification is stable, but observing any large subset of migrants may make it appear unhinged, as this group collectively takes its opportunity to officially disclose their change in political party loyalty when they have a chance to relocate and must reregister.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2218
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2019


  • internal migration
  • party identification
  • political behaviour
  • political change
  • residential sorting
  • voter registration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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