Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Republican vs. Democrat is not rural vs. urban but urban vs. everyone else, says rural writer

National journalists trying to explain Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's popularity in rural areas have been flawed in their reporting, Bill Bishop opines for the Daily Yonder. "One key to understanding current political reporting is that many national reporters seem to think that any area that is not within a major U.S. city is rural. Which leads to an aside: Isn’t it interesting how this data is always pitched as rural versus urban? A better description is that the nation’s huge cities are voting very differently from everyone else."

If all national political elections were rural vs. urban, candidates popular in urban areas would win every time, because those areas have larger populations, Bishop writes. In the 2014 congressional races, Republicans got a majority of the votes, on average, in all but the nation’s largest metro areas, which includes plenty of areas that are definitely not rural. (New York Times map: Results from 2014 House election shows Republican districts in red, with hashes if district switched from Democratic)
Bishop points to an NPR story published last week that says “living in a rural area by itself shapes a person’s politics, and can particularly drive a voter toward Trump.” The story quotes Katherine Cramer, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin, who has termed the phrase "rural resentment" to explain rural residents who feel they are not getting the same treatment as urban areas. Cramer said, “There’s this sense that people in those communities are not getting their fair share compared to people in the cities.”

This is a common theme in similar stories, Bishop writes. In an op-ed published Saturday in The New York Times, writer Daniel Hayes "says Trump has become the 'most pro-gun-rights nominee in modern GOP history,' harnessing 'the power of the Second Amendment people – a strength that comes less from unity than desperation,'" Bishop writes. "The desperation, he writes, is primarily economic. Hayes, from Bell County in Kentucky’s eastern coalfield, says voters 'in towns like mine have come to view themselves as the men on the wall guarding the last outpost of a disappearing way of life'."

No comments: