Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rural counties that went Democratic have higher incomes and education than GOP counterparts

In this year's Democratic primaries and caucuses, education was often the chief determining factor in whether a voter chose Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Generally, those who had a college degree favored Obama. The general-election results in rural counties showed a similar pattern, Bill Bishop and Robert Cushing report in the Daily Yonder.

"The greater the Democratic margin in 2008, the higher the percentage with a college degree," reads the headline on a Yonder chart. But the distinctions are even broader, Bishop and Cushing write: "The political division between red and blue communities is also a division between rich and poor, between those with college educations and those without. Rural Republican communities on average have lower incomes and less education than rural Democratic communities. And those divisions are growing as people migrate. . . . Since the last presidential election, poorer people have been moving into those counties where the percentage of the Republican vote increased in 2008."

Bishop and Cushing take a particular look at "landslide" counties, those won by margins of 20 percent or more and a subject of their years of research that helped produce their book The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart. "We don’t pretend to understand the full meaning of how this country is dividing," they conclude. "We can see, however, that America is polarizing not only politically, but also educationally and economically — and that a country Balkanized by skills and by income has more troubles than one that is simply divided by votes in a presidential election." (Read more)

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