Statewide Differences in Personality Predict Voting Patterns in 1996–2004 U.S. Presidential Elections
Political regionalism is commonly attributed to differences in historical settlement patterns, social class, and racial diversity. This book provides evidence for the importance of another factor—state-level personality—in understanding regional differences in political ideology. Drawing on research in personality and social psychology, the chapter proposes that geographical differences in voting patterns partially reflect differences in the psychological characteristics of individuals living in different states. Specifically examined are associations between state-level personality scores and voting patterns in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 U.S. Presidential elections. Results show that mean levels of openness and conscientiousness within a state predict the percentage of votes for Democratic and Republican candidates. Furthermore, state-level personality scores account for unique variance in voting patterns, even after adjusting for standard socio-demographic and political predictors. This chapter demonstrates the value of investigating psychological variables at a regional level to better understand political culture and ideology.
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