State Gross Domestic Product and Average Age and Their Influence on Political Identity of States in the 2008 Presidential Election
Mentor:Eric Lindgren, Assistant Professor of Political Science , Whittier College
Does the economy and average age of a state influence a state’s political ideology? Within the last decade, the contention between political parties has intensified, reaching extremes with the 2008 presidential election and expected again with the upcoming Presidential election. During the Republican Party primaries, for instance, far-right candidates declared their candidacy, including former House speaker Newt Gingrich and current Texas Governor Rick Perry. Such uncompromising conservative beliefs prompted examination of stereotypes of both parties: for instance, the assumption that Republicans were prosperous due to their own efforts but that Democrats relied on welfare or government programs, or, as many studies show, the older individuals become, the more conservative they are. What, if any, is the relationship between a number of variables such as wealth, age, and subsequent Republican Party affiliation? A hypothesis was developed that a state’s gross domestic product (GPD) per capita and average age of the state would predict its party leaning in the 2008 elections; that those with higher GPDs and age would vote Republican. To determine the impact GDP, average age, along with other variables, has on political identity, the 2008 election was chosen because of its large voter turnout and clear distinctions between Republican and Democratic candidates. Using the 50 states was determined to be a good unit of analysis. The results show that there is some support for the hypothesis and that they are significant factors in predicting state affiliation and identity.