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Region and Political Opinion in the Contemporary United States

David L. Weakliem and Robert Biggert
Social Forces
Vol. 77, No. 3 (Mar., 1999), pp. 863-886
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/3005964
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3005964
Page Count: 24
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Region and Political Opinion in the Contemporary United States
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Abstract

Regional differences in political views are widely recognized but rarely studied. This article considers two theories of regional differences. The first suggests that differences will be reduced by familiarity and interregional contact. Hence, they will be smaller among the more educated and will decline with time. The second suggests that regional identity competes with ethnic and religious identities. Hence, regional differences will be smaller among groups with strong alternative identities, such as blacks, Catholics, and fundamentalist Protestants. These predictions are tested using political opinions measured in the General Social Survey. Regional differences are unaffected by education but appear to have become smaller over the last few decades. They are substantially smaller among blacks and Catholics, although not among Protestant fundamentalists. Overall, the results support the idea of competition among identities.

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