Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Public Service

Committee Director

John C. Morris

Committee Member

Jita-Elena Yusuf

Committee Member

Tancy Vandecar-Burdin

Committee Member

R. Bruce Anderson


Most scholars agree the American South is a region with unique and distinct political traits. What is less clear, though, is just which states constitute “the South.” Are they the eleven former confederate states, as Key argues? Or are they the US Census Bureau’s version of the South? Or is Elazar’s version the “True South”? Since colonial times, there has been little disagreement on which states comprise the New England region, but scholars of the American South have never agreed upon a set of states that make up the South (Anderson & Baumann, 2016; Kinsella, 2013). The purpose of this study is to test three versions of the American South to see if one is more distinct, using the Affordable Care Act as the policy by which the comparison is made. The Affordable Care Act is a well-suited policy to use in testing this question. Not since the legislation that created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in 1996 has there been a policy in which all 50 states were required to make policy decisions in the same time frame, making the ACA a suitable policy for this cross-sectional study (Mayer, Kenter, & Morris, 2015).

This study will test one model, using three different versions of the American South to analyze what happens within the model if we change the definition of the South. Using OLS regressions the three definitions of the South are compared to determine if one version stands out as a more distinct South. The three models use traditional political and socioeconomic variables with the South being represented by interactive terms in the socioeconomic variables.

This research suggests the U.S. Census Bureau version of the South has a slight advantage over the other two models in magnitude of the significant coefficients and the levels of significance. The U.S Census Bureau also has a slightly better goodness of fit as measured by AIC and adjusted R2. However slight these differences, the model using the U.S. Census Bureau definition represents a more distinct version of the South when considering decisions made in reference to the ACA.


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