Why did the democrats lose the south? Bringing new data to an old debate

Ilyana Kuziemko, Ebonya Washington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


A long-standing debate in political economy is whether voters are driven primarily by economic self-interest or by less pecuniary motives like ethnocentrism. Using newly available data, we reexamine one of the largest partisan shifts in a modern democracy: Southern whites' exodus from the Democratic Party. We show that defection among racially conservative whites explains the entire decline from 1958 to 1980. Racial attitudes also predict whites' earlier partisan shifts. Relative to recent work, we find a much larger role for racial views and essentially no role for income growth or (non-race-related) policy preferences in explaining why Democrats "lost" the South.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2830-2867
Number of pages38
JournalAmerican Economic Review
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics


Dive into the research topics of 'Why did the democrats lose the south? Bringing new data to an old debate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this