Do you live near people who think like you? Does your precinct vote for the same candidates at election time? Or how about the bigger metaphorical question: Do birds of a feather flock together? Does all of this matter? If you answered “Yes” to these questions then I recommend you read what I believe is one of the more important books of the year – The Big Sort: Why the clustering of like-minded America is tearing us apart ( Houghton Mifflin) by Bill Bishop.
In this book, Bishop provides plenty of evidence that people have become very adept at discovering neighborhoods and communities that think like they think. While most demographers study things like age, race and socioeconomic factors to explain population migration, Bishop looks at voting data to show that people find others who are more alike from an ideological standpoint and how this is changing politics in America. He devised three tests to check the influence of the big sort: First, he measured voting patterns of communities over several Presidential elections to determine if majorities in communities were growing; second, he looked at religion and geography; and finally, he looked at demographic movements of Republicans and Democrats over the past 36 years. The results and his conclusions go a long way explaining our society and why its people do what they do.