The Great U-Turn
How demographic shifts and regulatory arbitrage turned the United States away from European socialism

(Roman Genn)


The effect of this pattern was to set up a national movement from the Northeast to the Sunbelt, a trend that had profound long-term electoral implications. The migration began to affect the distribution of congressional seats and electoral votes as early as the 1960 census, or even the 1950 census, given the substantial movement of population to the West during and after the Second World War. Voters who chose to move to right-to-work states were generally more conservative than those who remained; thus, the shift in electoral votes and House seats to Sunbelt states began to give Republican candidates an edge over Democrats, and, within the Republican party, to give conservative candidates an edge over centrist and liberal ones.

Barry Goldwater’s 1952 election as a Republican senator in historically Democratic-leaning Arizona was one of the first fruits of this shift, as was his nomination for president in 1964. Neither would have been likely to happen under the population distributions of 1940. Similarly, northern transplants to the Deep South were one factor in its transition from a predominantly Democratic region to a predominantly Republican one.

October 4, 2010    |     Volume LXII, No. 18

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