Predicting and Analyzing Avenues of Electoral Success for Democratic Socialist Candidates in Presidential Elections

Authors: John Heppen*, University of Wisconsin, River Falls
Topics: Political Geography, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Social Theory
Keywords: Electoral Geography, Spatial Analysis, Socialist
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Napoleon B1, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The recent success Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary season and his popularity according to public opinion polls and the explosive growth of the Democratic Socialists of America have come despite the Electoral College victory of Donald Trump. This has given pause to the conventional wisdom regarding the electoral geography of the United States. Many observers have noted the apparent growth of a leftward trend in the Democratic Party. Geographers and historians previously have studied candidates of the Socialist Party of America concluding that the laboring classes missed opportunities. This paper offers an analysis based on previous election results and features such as the legacies of the moralistic political culture and progressive initiatives like a $15 dollar minimum wage. A statistical and spatial analysis combined electoral success for Bernie Sanders during primaries with places where the deficient between Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama was least severe or where the Democratic vote grew. It is hypothesized that counties in areas considered to have suffered the most during economic restructuring are not necessarily places where a democratic socialist could expect to find electoral success and that rural places offer fertile ground but lack the raw votes to carry a state’s Electoral College votes alone. Initial findings offer support for that hypothesis, but places of great Democratic vote loss may offer more fertile ground than initially thought.

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