Thursday, June 12, 2014

'Culturally disconnected' rural voters favored Cantor; metro voters ousted the majority leader

While some initial reports said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's stunning loss in the Virginia primary resulted from rural voters turning their back on the candidate, final tallies show that rural voters actually favored him, while urban ones were more responsible for ousting him, Tim Marema and Bill Bishop report for the Daily Yonder. Cantor received more non-metro votes than challenger David Brat, edging him 2,276 to 2,091 in those regions, but it was in metro areas where Brat made his big move, capturing 34,019 votes to Cantor's 26,662.

"Out of 65,000 votes cast in the primary, only about 4,400 came from nonmetropolitan counties (Louisa and Orange). The rest came from counties in metropolitan statistical areas," the writers say. "But of those 4,400 nonmetro votes, Cantor won 52 percent versus Brat’s 48 percent. That’s right. The man who allegedly lost because his district was redrawn to include more rural voters actually won the vote in the most rural counties in his district. That doesn't add up."

"The general consensus is that Brat’s surprising victory in a low-turnout race shows that politically hard-core voters didn’t like Cantor’s stand on immigration reform, and they thought he wasn’t hard enough on President Obama, Time reports," the Yonder says. "If that’s the case, then voters in suburban and urban counties were more upset about Cantor’s behavior on those issues than voters in rural counties were."

"We’d temper this conclusion by saying county-level voting tallies are a pretty rough approximation of rural and urban political differences at the level of congressional districts. And, again, the number of nonmetro votes was small—only about 7 percent of the total," Bishop and Marema write. "But if rural voters were really categorically 'culturally disconnected' from Eric Cantor, you’d expect it to show up in the non-metro county vote. It didn’t." (Read more)

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