'Natural Geographical Sorting' Could Be The Culprit Behind Political Polarization The Cook Political Report says polarization is due less to gerrymandering than it is to where people choose to live.

'Natural Geographical Sorting' Could Be The Culprit Behind Political Polarization

'Natural Geographical Sorting' Could Be The Culprit Behind Political Polarization

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/523103259/523103260" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Cook Political Report says polarization is due less to gerrymandering than it is to where people choose to live.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

There's new data this week that may confirm this country is more polarized not only state by state but zip code by zip code, maybe even house by house and apartment by apartment. The venerable Cook Political Report says the common wisdom, of course, is that incumbents have redrawn the lines of districts - gerrymandered is the term - to favor their re-election. The number of swing districts - a term that means residents could vote for either party, not that the district has a swinging good time at parties over the weekend - has become very small. The reporters at Cook say that gerrymandering, quote, "is only responsible for a small portion" of what they call the swing seat decimation.

They've produced their partisan voter index for the past 20 years. And on this year's edition, out this week, they say natural geographic sorting has taken place over the past couple of decades. Liberals have moved next to liberals, conservatives next to conservatives. It used to be the rule just not to bring up politics in polite company. Now imagine a real estate ad - two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath, cul-de-sac, good schools, nice neighbors, no people of the other party need apply.

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.