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Red Fighting Blue: How Geography and Electoral Rules Polarize American Politics

Monday, December 11, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Registration is NOT required
Members Free and Non-members Free with admission ($10)

Red Fighting Blue: How Geography and Electoral Rules Polarize American Politics

David A. Hopkins

The national electoral map has split into warring regional bastions of Republican red and Democratic blue, producing a deep and enduring partisan divide in American politics. In Red Fighting Blue, David A. Hopkins places the current partisan and electoral era in historical context, explains how the increased salience of social issues since the 1980s has redefined the parties' geographic bases of support, and reveals the critical role that American political institutions play in intermediating between the behavior of citizens and the outcome of public policy-making. The widening geographic gap in voters’ partisan preferences, magnified further by winner-take-all electoral rules, has rendered most of the nation safe territory for either Democratic or Republican candidates in both presidential and congressional elections—with significant consequences for party competition, candidate strategy, and the operation of government.

David A. Hopkins is assistant professor of political science at Boston College. His research and teaching interests include American political parties and elections, the US Congress, voting behavior, public opinion, and research methods. Hopkins is the author of Asymmetric Politics: Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats (with Matt Grossmann); Presidential Elections: Strategies and Structures of American Politics (with Nelson W. Polsby, Aaron Wildavsky, and Steven E. Schier), and a forthcoming book on the geographic polarization of American party politics. Hopkins appears frequently in the news media as a political analyst and blogs regularly about American politics at He also serves as an expert commentator on American politics for news media organizations such as the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Vox, and National Public Radio.

The Athenæum’s collection of nineteenth-century political ballots sheds light on social movements and shifting attitudes in Boston politics. For example, the collection illustrates the gradual acceptance of the Irish community, from the American Party’s slogan “The Anti-Irish Know Nothings” to the election of the first Irish-Catholic Mayor of Boston, Hugh O’Brien, in 1884.

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