Where Do Progressives and Conservatives Come From?

First, here is the same chart as above with all states that had less than 5 total legislators in our full sample removed.The number of hyper-progressives subtracted by the number of arch-conservatives originating from each state, excluding states with less than five total.This is a useful way of identifying the states which, for one reason or another, have a definite tendency in one direction or the other towards electing people on the far wings of American political ideology.Finally, I decided to try an entirely alternative method of visualizing the data, one which will overrepresent smaller states rather than underrepresent them..To do this, I looked at what percentage of each state’s total legislators in our sample that were hyper-progressives..Thus, a state which sent only one hyper-progressive would have a score of 100%, a state which sent one hyper-progressive but three arch-conservatives would have a score of 25%, and so on..Here’s that map:The percentage of each state’s total ideologically extreme legislators in our sample that are hyper-progressives.Again, this over-represents the hyper-progressive and arch-conservative natures of smaller states, as a state which elected just one arch-conservative (like Kentucky) appears more conservative than a state which elected nine arch-conservatives and one hyper-progressive (like Idaho)..It also makes some Republican states appear to be progressive (Montana and South Dakota) and some Democratic states appear to be conservative (Maryland and Delaware) because of a the election of just a few legislators several decades ago..But the point here is that low sample-size contributes to ideological strength in this map, unlike the previous map where it takes away from it..As such, this map is also inaccurate for smaller states, but somewhat useful in its own way.ConclusionI should start this conclusion with a reminder of all the limitations to the research here..This analysis relies on a measurement which can sometimes ideologically miscategorize legislators, our sample is limited to the most extreme ends of American ideology and doesn’t capture changes to American politics since 2002, and limited data from many smaller states makes them harder to properly analyze.These problems are especially apparent in the South..Determining the proper orientation of the South here poses unique problems due to our limited time frame and the nature of how DW-NOMINATE captures ideology, and thus we may have additional problems measuring its actual placement..It seems likely that the South today is in fact a stronghold of American arch-conservatism, and that this analysis simply doesn’t capture that.Even with all of this in mind, however, a general answer to our original question seems to emerge from this analysis..It appears that, from 1937–2002, New York, California, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota had the strongest tendencies towards electing highly progressive legislators, while Texas, Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, and Idaho had the strongest tendencies towards electing highly conservative legislators..Illinois holds the unique distinction of producing very high numbers of both.. More details

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