William A. Galston’s and Pietro S. Nivola’s Sunday New York Times Magazine article, “Vote Like Thy Neighbor” notes an interesting demographic development that should have significant implications for GOTV campaigns and political advertising:
Our research concludes not only that the ideological differences between the political parties are growing but also that they have become embedded in American society itself…Most strikingly, political polarization has become akin to political segregation. You are less likely to live near someone whose politics differ from your own. It’s well known that fewer states are competitive in presidential races than in decades past. We find similar results at the county level. In 1976, only 27 percent of voters lived in landslide counties where one candidate prevailed by 20 points or more. By 2004, 48 percent of voters lived in such counties.
The authors discuss the reasons for the shift and note that “majorities tend to become supermajorities.” They add “When states become more homogeneous, presidential campaigns begin by conceding a large number of contests to the opposition, disheartening their supporters in those states and increasing the majority’s electoral advantage.”