Using a number of states as case studies, especially in New England, Changing Patterns of Voting in the Northern United States explains why large shifts in voter partisan preferences have occurred since the 1950s in that section of the country. In these Northern states, citizens of New England Yankee or Norwegian ancestry and voters with higher educational levels have abandoned historical preferences for the national Republican party to vote in increasing percentages for Democratic presidential candidates in almost every election since 1952. Many of these areas in the past preferred the moderate or liberal wing of the Republican party but have found their traditional party focusing on conservative appeals to a Southern electorate in recent years. In 1980, 1992, and 1996, many of these Northern areas demonstrated significant support for the independent presidential candidacies of John Anderson and Ross Perot, who represented a more moderate brand of Republicanism than the party’s official candidates in those years.
Changing Patterns of Voting in the Northern United States relies on actual voting data rather than public opinion surveys to study trends among the electorate. This focus on voting statistics allows an in-depth analysis of the many types of voting patterns found in individual states that would not be apparent in national survey data. It allows an alternative explanation for the growth of split-ticket voting. While many attribute that growth to a decline in party identification, this study suggests that voters may simply identify with one party at the national level and another party in state elections, because the national and state parties are able to present different images to local voters in the federal system we have in this country.