How far apart liberals and conservatives are in each state (literally)

A post at Business Insider caught our attention this morning. Using data from Clarity Campaign Labs (which earlier this week gave us a "where to live based on your political beliefs" tool), the BI map shows the most liberal and most conservative cities in each state.

Here it is, used with BI's permission.


We thought we could do one better. What struck us about the map is how close some of the places were. The most liberal and most conservative communities in some states were separated by only a few miles. So we tried to figure out which states had the least (geographic) distance between political philosophies.

Clarity Campaign Labs generously gave us the data set it had provided to Business Insider. (A caveat: The calculation doesn't include all of the elements of the quiz linked above.) We created this:


The farthest apart are the most liberal and most conservative places in Alaska — because, you know, Alaska. Florida also makes sense, pitting the panhandle against the more urban areas of the state. But Tennessee is particularly interesting — the third-farthest difference overall. It's because the two most extreme locations are in the two most extreme parts of the state.

When it comes to the states with the closest liberal and conservative enclaves, D.C. also explains itself. (The data from Clarity Campaign Labs was tied to Zip codes, which is why Washington is eight kilometers from Washington — that's how far apart the Zip codes are.)  Third-closest is Kansas, which has its most liberal place in Wichita and its most conservative in the small community of Elbing, just outside town. Is this because Kansas isn't densely populated? Is it because Kansas has more overall political homogeneity? It's hard to say.

Perhaps one of our readers in Wichita or Elbing can let us know. Here are driving directions if you feel like asking people in the other city directly. Won't take you long to get there.

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He previously wrote for The Wire, the news blog of The Atlantic magazine. He has contributed to The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, The Daily, and the Huffington Post. Philip is based in New York City.
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