Academic Scholarship

State Political Culture and Support for Obama in the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primaries

Social Sciences, 47, 669- 709, July 2010

Photo Needed Patrick Fisher, Ph.D.
Department of Political Science and Public Affairs

Though ideologically similar, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton appealed to different types of voters in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries and demographically the candidates’ support varied considerably. Relative to the demographics of the primary electorates, however, we find that state political culture played an outsized role in determining which candidate emerged victorious in a particular state. When the size of demographic groups in the 2008 Democratic primaries are utilized in ordinary least squares regression models as independent variables with state political characteristics and Daniel Elazar's state political culture typology, political culture proves to be an important determinant of the level of support given to Obama in a state. States that are characterized by a more moralistic political culture are more likely to have given Obama a greater share of the primary vote and states that are characterized by a more traditionalistic or individualistic culture were less likely to support Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries.


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