UO doctoral student draws media eyes for study on political polarization

UO economics doctoral student John Voorheis

American politics are polarized. Ya think? A new study looks at why.

The research, led by UO economics doctoral student John Voorheis, points to income inequality as a game-changer within states that leads to Democrats moving further to the left as their more-moderate colleagues are replaced by the election of Republicans. State legislatures, as a result, move to the right.

"So why exactly is this happening? It's not easy to say," writes Zeeshan Aleem in a story for Policy.Mic, an online publication that caters to young people.

"An influx of campaign funds going to politicians who are going to be more favorable to the wealthy when there's an increase in inequality might be just enough to flip a district that once elected a moderate Democrat into one electing a Republican," Voorheis told the publication.

The study, co-authored with Nolan McCarty of Princeton University and Boris Shor of Georgetown University, also drew quick online media coverage, including a story with maps, from The Week, a British-based news magazine with an American edition, and a blog post from the Washington Post, a traditional media outlet.

The study was published in the Social Science Research Network, which promotes the rapid distribution of research findings in multiple fields.
Financial support for the study came from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, Princeton University Woodrow Wilson School, Robert Wood Johnson Scholars in Health Policy program and the National Science Foundation.