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Mapping California Voters

October 19, 1986

Candidates and their managers speak a new political language today, the language of mass advertising and marketing. It is a natural result of the fact that political candidates deliver their messages through the same media as the advertiser.

Besides looking at a California of 58 counties, each with its own history, political technicians see a state divided into 11 television marketing areas, "areas of dominant influence," or ADIs, as they are called by Arbitron, the broadcast rating service.

As the map of these marketing areas shows, these are multi-county units, not bound by history but by the happenstance of being served by certain television stations. Orange County, for example, is part of the Los Angeles ADI because it is served by Los Angeles television stations.

The registered voters of these areas are increasingly described in new language that refers to neighborhoods in such terms as "Blue Blood Estates"(rich suburbanite) and "Shotguns & Pickups," (blue-collar workers who like the outdoors). That system of demographic classification, called PRIZM, was developed in 1978 by the Claritas Corp. and is used by the marketing departments of many companies throughout the nation, including the Los Angeles Times. Similar systems have been developed by other firms. In all of them, neighborhoods with similar characteristics are grouped under the classifications by computer-aided analysis of Census Bureau material.

Ted Leibman of The Times marketing department prepared PRIZM analyses of the state. Prof. Bruce Cain of Caltech and his staff combined past election results and voter registration patterns with the PRIZM demographic analysis.

A glossary was compiled to define the PRIZM classifications that describe California neighborhoods. A GLOSSARY OF PRIZM CATEGORIES

Furs & Station Wagons--Well-educated, affluent, mobile professionals with teen-age children living in suburbs far from city life.

Blue Blood Estates--Wealthiest neighborhoods, populated by top managers, professionals and heirs to "old money" accustomed to privilege and luxury.

Money & Brains--Wealthy singles and many rich childless couples often living in swank town houses, apartments and condos.

God's Country--Well-educated people who decided to move from metropolitan to scenic mountain and coastal areas.

New Homesteaders--Less affluent but still prosperous versions of God's Country.

Bohemian Mix--Integrated singles neighborhoods with generally well-fixed residents, heavy with academics, actors, writers and artists.

Urban Gold Coast--Wealthy, employed and generally childless people living in places such as Bunker Hills Towers in downtown Los Angeles.

Black Enterprise--Educated, employed, predominantly black areas, with incomes well above average, except for some poorer single-parent pockets.

Towns & Gowns--College town residents outside metropolitan areas.

New Beginnings--"Archie Bunker's children" grown up to be largely technical and lower-echelon white-collar workers.

Young Influentials--Young metropolitan area singles or couples with money and no children.

Pools & Patios--Well-educated suburbanites tending to be empty-nesters. Prosperous but less affluent than Furs & Station Wagons.

New Melting Pot--Immigrant urban areas, more affluent than Hispanic Mix, often with Latinos, Asians and Middle Eastern families.

Two More Rungs--Urban dwellers, often professionals, often foreign-born, climbing up the economic ladder.

Shotguns & Pickups--Small-town, outdoors-loving, blue-collar workers with school-age children.

Coalburg & Corntown--Residents of small cities with many blue-collars, surrounded by rich farmland.

Agribusiness--Prosperous farming or lumbering areas marred by rural poverty.

Emergent Minorities--Mostly black, but also Latino, neighborhoods of minorities struggling up from poverty.

Single City Blues--Urban, downscale, singles areas, often near a college, giving neighborhood bohemian air.

Young Suburbia--One of the biggest groups. White-collar families with money and young children.

Blue Chip Blues--High school-educated, blue-collar workers, married with children.

Back-Country Folks--Predominantly white small-town rural population.

Sharecroppers--Old, poor farming areas now attracting light industry.

Levittown, USA--Aging empty-nesters still living in tract homes they bought in the 1950s. (Named for a famous post-World War II housing tract.)

Rank & File--Older blue-collar empty-nesters, with high degree of manufacturing jobs.

Gray Power--Upscale senior citizens, who have pulled up roots and moved among fellow retirees.

Golden Ponds--Retirees, less affluent than "Gray Power," living in rural areas.

Grain Belt--Resembles Agribusiness but has more working farm owners.

Hispanic Mix--Urban, densely populated bilingual Latino neighborhoods with large families of small children and a high percentage of new immigrants.

Public Assistance--The poorest areas, with high unemployment and welfare levels.

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