Sunday, November 22, 2009

Data and social networks   posted by Razib @ 11/22/2009 12:19:00 AM

Does anyone know of a free source of county level presidential results going back to the 19th century? I want to compare correlations in voting across time. I did find some data from Pennsylvania, and noted that the Great Flip seems not to be evident in that state for the 1856 or 1860 election (that is, the correlation between Democrat and Republican voting patterns by county between 2008 and those years is around zero). Here's a map of the 1960 presidential election results by county, red for Nixon and blue for Kennedy:

The Yankee dominated regions of northern New England remained Republican strongholds in 1960, just as they were during the ascendancy of Franklin Roosevelt. In Albion's Seed David Hackett Fischer argues for a "First Settler Effect" which echoes down across the centuries. This sort of paradigm would ask us what substantive similarities underpin the common support of Vermonters for Hoover in 1932 and liberal Democrats and Republicans in the 2000s (remember that northern New England still has a much larger fraction of Yankees). But I wonder if what is really maintaining regional coherency across time are social networks which share ideas and evolve together over time. It is peculiar to imagine it now, but during the early republic the Yankees were the segment of the population most fixated on Christian orthodoxy (evident by the fact that New England states were last to disestablish their churches), and were the driving forces of the Second Great Awakening (which did spread across the country). Today Yankees are the most secular segment of settler descended subcultures. Conversely, in 1800 the South was relatively lax in matters of religion, republican in politics, and pro-French in sympathy. John C. Calhoun was a Unitarian.

So that's why I want to get county-by-county data sets.