Urban and rural areas in the United States are frequently perceived as immensely politically divided. Prior research proposes competing hypotheses that drive the political polarization between these two populations such as media portrayal/political rhetoric, socioeconomic class, and inherent geographical differences. This study examines the many factors that influence healthcare and welfare policy preferences among urban and rural communities. I conducted ten in-depth interviews with residents from urban and rural areas in New York, and discovered that factors such as class structures, place, and political tactics are all actually interconnected in driving the political polarization between urban and rural residents. Results show that instead of these influences working separately, political polarization between urban and rural areas is driven by their combined effects, working in tandem. These findings suggest that efforts to address this issue should take into account the complex interactions between these factors; a narrow focus on one factor is unlikely to be effective in reducing political polarization between urban and rural areas.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Jamie Kucinskas

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.