Voter Migration and the Geographic Sorting of the American Electorate

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Questions have been raised in recent years about the extent to which the nation is segregated by the political preferences of its electorate. Some have argued that internal migration selects either directly or indirectly on political criteria and thereby produces increasingly one-sided Republican and Democratic neighborhoods. We are among the first to empirically examine voter migration on a large scale. Relying on data for millions of partisan migrants across seven states, we show that partisans relocate based on destination characteristics such as racial composition, income, and population density but additionally prefer to relocate in areas populated with copartisans. This tendency is stronger among Republicans but is also true of Democratic registrants. Whether the role of partisanship is central or ancillary, if it is any part of the decision process it has the potential to make important imprints on the political landscape of the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)856-870
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 4 2013


  • migration
  • political polarization
  • residential sorting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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