Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Analyses of census and voting data illustrate why Clinton may have wrongly overlooked rural areas

American Community Survey data released last week by the Census Bureau shows that Hillary Clinton "could have concluded—erroneously, in retrospect—that she could have won without appealing to voters in rural areas and small towns," reports Agri-Pulse. Fewer than 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas, with 80 percent living in metro areas, where Clinton was favored to win.

"Trump got about two-thirds of the votes in rural counties and counties with cities under 50,000, performing several points higher than Republican nominee Mitt Romney did in 2012," Agri-Pulse notes, citing the Daily Yonder. "A stunning example comes from a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel analysis that found Trump won more than 500 Wisconsin towns and villages with a median population of less than 800 that voted for President Obama in 2012, nearly half of them by 20 percentage points or greater." (Census Bureau chart: Trends in urban and rural population; click on image for larger version)
"One popular theory is that the results of the election came as such a surprise because media, pundits, and pollsters were in an information ‘bubble’ and unaware of the depth of discontent outside major cities,” writes Tim Marema of the Yonder. "Although the Census reports do not shed light on Trump’s rural electoral popularity, Marema suggests that they may 'create a leak, if not a burst, in the information bubble.'”

The report says the average age in rural areas is 51, compared to 45 in urban ones. Rural adults are "less likely to be college graduates, are more likely to live in the state where they were born (65.4 percent compared with 48.3 percent), and are more likely to have served in the military (10.4 percent of the population of adults in rural areas compared with 7.8 percent in urban areas)," reports Agri-Pulse reports.

"Census researchers also compared residents in 704 completely rural counties with their counterparts in counties that were mostly rural and with rural people in areas that were mostly urban," Agri-Pulse reports. "From 2011 to 2015, some 9 percent of the rural population (5.3 million) lived in completely rural counties, compared with about 41 percent (24.6 million) in 1,185 mostly rural counties and about 50 percent (30.1 million) in the 1,253 mostly urban counties. Rural areas had lower rates of poverty (11.7 percent compared with 14 percent) and were much less likely to have large immigrant population. Rural communities had fewer adults born in other countries (4 percent) compared with those in urban areas (19 percent)."

Agri-Pulse is subscription only, but can be viewed by clicking here.

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