Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. John Griffin

Second Advisor

Dr. E. Scott Adler

Abstract

After the end of the Second World War, the United States when through a period of great growth. As the economy grew, income inequality also grew within the country. Parallel to this, as income inequality increased, Republicans began to break the stronghold of Democratic congressional control. This begs the question, what happens to politics as income inequality increases in the United States? Can Republican success be explained by increased inequality? In order to answer this question, I theorize that income inequality increases the power of the Republican core support base, while it mitigates the power of the Democratic support base leading to better election results for Republicans. To test to see if income inequality actually increases the success of Republican candidates, I look at congressional districts from the years of 2006-2010 to see if Republicans do better in one election to the next in districts with high-income inequality. I find that Republicans do, in fact, do better in places with high income inequality but only about seven percent better, which is not a substantial amount. I conclude that income inequality might be a small explication to Republican success.

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