Chances are, if you’re a Republican in Baton Rouge, you don’t live next door to a Democrat, and vice-versa. That’s according to a recent FiveThirtyEight study, which found Baton Rouge is the third-most politically polarized urban area in the U.S., geographically speaking.
When you expand the definition of urban areas beyond their downtown areas, cities start to look less Democratic and less densely populated. To see just how politically segregated America’s urban areas are, FiveThirtyEight used each city’s 2016 election results to calculate its dissimilarity index—basically, a number showing how physically separated a city’s Republicans and Democrats are from one another, with higher numbers indicating more segregation.
Baton Rouge’s dissimilarity index is 0.56, the third-highest score recorded. The city trails behind only Jackson, Mississippi, (0.63) and New Orleans (0.58). Other Louisiana cities, including Shreveport (0.56) and Lafayette (0.47), also rounded out the top 20.
An obvious trend jumps out when you look at the most politically segregated cities: They’re also the cities with some of the highest proportions of black residents. Unsurprisingly, FiveThirtyEight found a strong positive correlation between black-white segregation and political segregation. (Racial segregation in Baton Rouge appears to tread near the 0.52 mark, behind just a handful of cities).
But racial segregation alone can’t explain how polarized Baton Rouge and other American metro areas are. One theory is that Americans are choosing to live in homogeneous communities according to how they live and their political preferences. Sound familiar?