The Atlantic

Letter: Is ‘The Geography of Partisan Prejudice’ Knowable?

A reader questions the methodology behind The Atlantic’s guide to the most—and least—politically open-minded counties in America.
Source: Nancy Lapid / Reuters

The Geography of Partisan Prejudice

In early March, The Atlantic published a guide to the most—and least—politically open-minded counties in America. Amanda Ripley, Rekha Tenjarla, and Angela Y. He teamed up with PredictWise, a polling and analytics firm, to create a ranking of counties in the U.S. based on partisan prejudice (or what researchers call “affective polarization”).

The results were surprising in several ways, they found. “In general, the most politically intolerant Americans, according to the analysis, tend to be whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban, and more partisan themselves.”


In its analysis, PredictWise used multilevel regression with post-stratification (MRP), a method that has lots of promise in estimating public opinion within states from national survey data. However, this method should be used with great care and by Matthew K. Buttice and Benjamin Highton.

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