Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Despite political differences Trump, Sanders are both scoring well in white rural areas

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders seem like polar opposites, but both are doing particularly well in rural areas, especially ones where white residents feel they have been ignored by politicians focused on urban centers, Rick Montgomery reports for The Kansas City Star.

“One is a New York City billionaire famous for skyscrapers and exotic resorts bearing his name. The other is a Brooklyn-born New Englander who calls himself a democratic socialist,” Montgomery writes. “Worlds apart politically, Trump and Sanders tend to draw higher percentages of voter support in small towns and rural counties than they do in cities, primary results in some states show.”

One such place where both candidates have done well is in rural Bates County in western Missouri (Wikipedia map), Montgomery writes. The county has a population of 16,500 spread out over “850 square miles of rolling countryside, creeks, cows,” and many of the residents are living in poverty. In the county Trump won 1,306 votes to 1,080 for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, while Sanders beat Hillary Clinton 632 to 518 even though Clinton narrowly won the state. Princeton University sociologist Robert Wunthrow told Montgomery, “That’s very much what’s going on with the appeal of Trump and Sanders” in rural America. "Voters are looking for that anti-establishment person. “

Montgomery reports, “The curious Trump/Sanders hold on rural communities hasn’t proven to be true everywhere this primary season. But it’s revealed itself often enough to make analysts wonder. Both candidates have generally been scoring ‘from four, five, six percentage points higher in small towns and rural areas,’ said Bill Bishop, a contributor to the rural-interest website the Daily Yonder.” He told Montgomery, “It’s not a huge difference, but it appears to be consistent around the country.”

Montgomery writes, "Sanders himself represents a white, rural New England state where gun laws are among the most permissive in the nation. But his rural magic doesn’t seem to carry over to Southern states where many African-Americans, who poll well for Clinton, reside in rural areas. With either candidate’s small-town attraction."

"Trump’s core support comes from the white, male working class, said Karlyn Bowman, who studies polls for the conservative American Enterprise Institute," Montgomery writes. "And those people are plentiful in Bates County. No college exists here. Only 1 percent of the population is black. Although employment rates are good, the share of county residents on welfare is among the highest in Missouri, county officials said." (Read more)

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