Real estate—as much as religion or politics—is what really divides America into red and blue regions, argues Atlantic Monthly’s Virginia Postrel. Comparing the housing markets in Dallas and Los Angeles, she notes that it's no coincidence that there's cheap, plentiful housing in the former, and expensive, scarce housing in the latter. It's the result of land-use policies that either encourage growth (Dallas) or discourage it (LA).
They each have their cultural corollaries: The Dallas model encourages the “proverbial home-centered, family-oriented” middle-class lifestyle, while megacities on the LA model reward the highly productive and the creative, who have a taste for stimulating public activities. Because of these policies, Americans are sorting themselves geographically more than ever before, she argues, and more likely to live surrounded by others like themselves.