Saturday, November 08, 2008

Vote shows urban-rural divide as big as ever; expert sees 'serious racial polarization'

Barack Obama shaved Republicans' advantage among rural voters, but his "bump in rural areas is nothing compared with his monumental gain in cities — a margin there of close to 13 million votes — up 10 percent from John Kerry's urban take. That makes the urban-rural political divide as big as ever," reports Howard Berkes of National Public Radio.

Berkes draws from the analysis of the Daily Yonder, which The Rural Blog reported earlier this week. But he also cites Seth McKee of the University of South Florida, who studies the rural vote. "He blames the urban-rural political gap on race, especially in Southern states," Berkes reports. McKee told him, "It looks like some serious racial polarization going on."

That was apparent in the votes of some heavily white counties in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma, which had been traditionally or marginally Democratic but turned Republican, as illustrated in a map that Matthew Yglesias adapted from The New York Times interactive county maps of current and historic voting patterns. The map also appears in the blog post linked to in the previous paragraph.

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