Panel Paper: Income Inequality As a Predictor of Individual and Regional Partisan Preference

Saturday, November 8, 2014 : 1:45 PM
Taos (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Woo Chang Kang and Clifford Frasier, New York University
Existing studies on the political consequences of inequality are often limited in that they depend on state- and national-level measures, which are too aggregated to capture the effect of inequality. The mechanism of how economic inequality affects political attitudes of the public may operate differently within localized (e.g., towns or counties) compared to larger (e.g., state) contexts. For this reason, we employ the Gini index measured at the county level, which has not been available until the 2012 Census. In particular, we exploit a multilevel approach combining aggregate level economic variables with individual level survey data (e.g., the National Annenberg Survey 2004) at the county level. Preliminary analysis shows that inequality at the county level generates a negative association with voters’ identification with the Republican Party. Second, the effect of inequality over income-party stratification is conditional on racial composition of counties. Increasing inequality weakens the association between income and partisan identification in racially homogenous counties but not in racially diverse counties.