The bottom line, the study suggests, is that little has changed in terms of income's general influence on individual voting patterns: in every presidential election since 1952, the richer a voter is, the more likely that voter is to vote Republican, regardless of ethnicity, sex, education or age.
What's changing, the researchers argue, is how differences in income are playing out at the county and state levels. A key finding is that relative income is a much stronger predictor of voting preferences in poor states than it is in rich states.
"We find that income matters more in 'red' America than in 'blue' America," the researchers explain. "In poor states, rich people are much more likely than poor people to vote for the Republican presidential candidate, but in rich states (such as Connecticut), income has a very low correlation with vote preference."
In Connecticut, one of the nation's richer states, researchers found little difference between the voting patterns of the state's richest and poorest residents. In Mississippi, the nation's poorest state, they found dramatic income-related differences, with rich voters twice as likely as poor to vote Republican.