No state is more bipartisan than Kentucky — at least when it comes to living arrangements


The odds are good that your household is not bipartisan. I don’t mean that in some vague sense of what you and your housemates/family/pets believe about particular policy issues. I mean it in a literal sense: The odds are good that there is only one political party under your roof, regardless of how many people live there.

I say that based on data from L2 VoterMapping, a political data firm that compiles information on registered voters in the United States. When you have a collection of data about who’s registered to vote, what party they belong to and where they live, well, it’s not that much harder to figure out if their household is one-party or bipartisan. (For political campaigns, this is useful: If you want to reach a house with a message aimed at Democrats, if there are three Democrats living there you can send one big postcard targeting them all. If you want to contact the one Republican in a Democratic household, maybe you send them a letter in an envelope.)

That data tells us that, among registered voters, more than half live in a household that is Democrat-only or Republican-only. Another fifth live in a home that’s independent-only — meaning that three-quarters of the country don’t live with someone from another political party. (A lot of people live alone, of course, which makes this number a bit less impressive.)

What we’re interested in here is that slice at the bottom right, those people who are Democrats that live with Republicans and vice versa. Those shining beacons of bipartisanship, whose personal commitment to bridging the gap between the parties goes so far as to share a bathroom with someone from the other end of the spectrum.

If we use L2’s tool to plot where those people live, we end up with a very nice map … of population density in the United States.

So instead what we decided to do was break down the data by state. What percentage of the households in each state are Democrat-only, Republican-only or truly bipartisan? (In states without partisan registration, L2 makes an estimate of the likely partisanship of each voter.)

We can start with the states with the highest density of Democrat-only households.

Some obvious ones there: New York, D.C., Washington. But some surprises, too: Texas, for example, where 41 percent of households have only Democrats living in them. The state with the highest density of Democrat-only households is Michigan, followed by Vermont. (Excluding D.C., which is ahead by a mile.)

The Republican map is similarly predictable. Many red states pop up immediately.

The state with the highest density of Republican-only households is Wyoming, followed by Alabama and Idaho. More than 59 percent of households in Wyoming are Republican-only, while only 47 percent of households in Michigan are Democrat-only.

But now to the key question: What states are most bipartisan?

The top five, in order:

  1. Kentucky, 16.9 percent Democrat-Republican households.
  2. Michigan, 12.8 percent
  3. Vermont, 12.2 percent
  4. Pennsylvania, 12 percent
  5. Virginia, 10.9 percent.

The least bipartisan? Idaho, Alabama and — at the very bottom — Alaska.

There’s a correlation here between states with a higher density of Democrat-only households and states with a higher density of Democrat-Republican households. Read into that what you will.

Meanwhile, I went a step further. L2 breaks this data out by congressional district, allowing us to answer an interesting question. In places where there are more bipartisan households, is the district itself more moderate?

The answer? Yes — but only slightly.

Here are all 435 congressional districts, ranked by Cook Political‘s Partisan Voting Index, a measure of how partisan the district is. The gray line shows the trend. In more partisan districts at the left and right sides of the graph, the density of bipartisan households is lower. In the middle, it’s higher.

The districts with the most bipartisan households:

  1. Ky. 2nd, 19 percent bipartisan
  2. Ky. 4th
  3. Ky. 1st
  4. Mich. 11th
  5. Mich. 8th

The districts with the least bipartisan households:

  1. Ala. 7th, 0.75 percent
  2. Ala. 2nd
  3. Ga. 5th
  4. Ga. 13th
  5. Mass. 7th

There are a few caveats that apply here. First, places with a lot more people in one party than the other will both have fewer bipartisan households and exhibit more partisan voting habits. The second caveat is that the correlation is loose. In fact, seven of the most-bipartisan congressional districts by D-R household count also lean heavily to the right. On average, those districts voted for Donald Trump last year by a 26-point margin.

In more Democratic districts, the correlation works as you might expect. In fact, there’s a stronger correlation between the density of Democrat-only households and Cook PVI score than the inverse correlation shown above. This is probably a function of the density of the Democratic vote in urban districts.

Anyway. If you’re looking to find love with someone from the opposing party, these data suggest that you’ll maybe end up living in Kentucky. You may do with that information what you wish.

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