Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Rural does not always equal Republican; recreation areas more likely to favor Dems than farming areas

Rural America leans more to the left than previously thought, says a study by researchers in the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire published in ScienceDirect. Researchers found that "Republican presidential candidates do best in rural counties dominated by farming while Democratic presidential candidates do well in rural counties dominated by recreation," says a press release from the UNH. (UNH map: percent of rural recreation votes for President Obama in 2012)
The study found that President Obama received 31 and 26 percent of the vote in rural farming areas, but in rural recreational areas, Obama received 46 and 42 percent of the vote. Those numbers are significant because rural recreation areas are more heavily populated and are growing faster in population than farming areas. Overall, the 403 rural farming counties consist of 3 million residents, while the 289 rural recreational counties consist of 8.2 million residents, with recreation areas "among the fastest growing parts of rural America with a population gain of 34 percent in the last two decades." (UNH map: Percent of rural farm votes for President Obama in 2012)
Recreational areas are expected to keep growing in population, "as the Baby Boom retires over the next two decades," says the press release. "Not all of rural America is dominated by farming and recreation, nor is all farming and recreational activity limited to these county types; both exist to a greater or lesser extent in many of the other 1,361 rural counties that contain 39.7 million residents. Here support for Republicans is greater than in recreation counties but less than in farm counties."

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