Polls and Elections: Southern Discomfort? Regional Differences in Voter Decision Making in the 2000 Presidential Election


  • Todd Shields is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Diane Blair Center for Southern Politics and Society at the University of Arkansas.

D. Sunshine Hillygus is the Frederick S. Danziger Associate Professor of Government and director of the program on survey research at Harvard University.


The South has undergone dramatic changes in population, economics, and partisanship in recent decades, leading scholars to conclude that the New South has lost many of its unique patterns of voting behavior. Using an extensive data set that contains sufficient sample sizes for regional comparisons, we estimate an interactive model of vote choice in the 2000 presidential election to compare the decision making of Southern and non-Southern respondents. We find that the voting calculus of Southern voters remains distinct, particularly for those struggling with cross-pressures between ideology and party identification. These findings have theoretical implications for general models of presidential voting behavior and practical relevance for understanding election outcomes and the future of party politics in the South.