But if Americans are sorting themselves into like-minded communities, are they doing so on purpose? In other words, are people voting with their feet by consciously moving to states or counties that reflect their own partisan preferences?
Researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of Southern California suggest that, yes, they may be.
The recession and housing market declines of recent years have meant that Americans are than they used to. When they do move, demographers say, their main motivations remain traditional ones — housing and jobs.
People then tend to end up living among people who are more or less like them, in terms of economic status, shopping preferences and the like.
But the U.Va. and USC researchers, in a forthcoming paper in the Journal of Experiment Social Psychology, suggest that increasing numbers of people want to live among people who share their ideology as well. People are motivated to move away from communities where they don’t fit in and try to find areas that are more congenial.