Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Election results highlight rural-urban divide

Yesterday's election highlights the deep divide between rural and urban Americans. "Fueled mainly by gains in urban/suburban areas, Democrats won control of the U.S. House of Representatives," Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann report for NBC News. "Fueled mainly by turnout in rural America — especially in states Trump won by significant margins in 2016 — Republicans expanded their Senate majority, picking up what looks like two seats (and it could be three if Rick Scott hangs on in Florida)." Scott appears to have won but the race could go to a recount.

Washington Post chart
"Democratic incumbent senators who performed poorly with rural voters were part of the Republican formula that helped the GOP retain control of the Senate for at least the next two years," Tim Marema reports for The Daily Yonder. That includes Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who lost as Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley performed well with rural voters. McCaskill performed 30 points worse in rural counties than in 2012.

Despite the rural impact on the Senate, overall support for Republicans declined more among rural voters than among suburban and urban voters. It declined likewise among blue- and white- collar workers; and among voters at all levels of education, Ted Mellnik and Kevin Schaul report for The Washington Post: "Republicans may have garnered more votes across the battlegrounds, but only by a fraction of a percentage point. That compares with a Trump win of almost six points in 2016. Across racial lines, Republicans won handily in areas that are more than 90 percent white, but by less than half of Trump’s margin. And in majority nonwhite areas, Democratic candidates also won by less than Hillary Clinton two years ago. Both shifts may be related to relative declines in turnout for minority as well as rural voters."

Though President Trump was not on yesterday's ballots, most voters viewed the election as a referendum on his presidency. "Nearly two thirds of voters said they cast their ballot for Congress either to support Trump (26 percent) or oppose him (38 percent). More voters said they were casting a ballot to support Trump than oppose him in Senate races in Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota, three states where Republicans beat Democratic incumbents," Reid Wilson reports for The Hill.

In January, the two parties (and their bases) will likely continue drifting apart and "double down on divisiveness heading into 2020," Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei write for Axios. "The Republican strategy of targeting men, whites and rural voters was vindicated with the larger Senate majority. We saw record conservative turnout in rural Trump country."

That benefited Republican Rep. Andy Barr of Kentucky's 6th District, where former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath had won an upset victory in the Democratic primary on a strong rural vote. Barr racked up big margins in rural areas to win, 51 percent to 48 percent.

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