"There have always been differences between rural and urban America, but they have grown vast and deep, and now are an underappreciated factor in dividing the U.S. political system, say politicians and academicians," the reporters write. "These divisions emerged in the 1960s with the civil-rights movement and the rise of such social issues as abortion and school prayer, which distanced culturally conservative rural voters from the Democratic Party."
In 1993, just over half of rural Americans were represented by a House Democrat, but now 77 percent have a Republican U.S. representative, Meckler and Chinni report. "But in urban areas—which by the government's definition includes both cities and suburbs—slightly less than half of residents were represented by congressional Republicans, despite the GOP's 30-seat majority in the House."
"Religion remains a dividing line," Meckler and Chinni write. "Urban dwellers are more than three times as likely as rural residents to say religion is 'not that important to me,' according to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. Nearly 60 percent of rural residents say homosexual behavior is a sin compared with 40 percent of city residents, a Pew Research Center poll found last year. Economic forces have advanced the split. Companies carefully choose where to locate new stores and who to target with advertising, assisted by a trove of marketing data. The result is rural Americans have a different set of consumer choices than urban residents."
"Rural economies have faltered as automated farming and corporate ventures subsumed many family farms," Meckler and Chinni write. "Cutbacks in manufacturing have cost jobs, and fewer jobs mean fewer opportunities for young people, driving away those with more skills and education. Without new arrivals, these aging regions have grown more insulated from cultural change—whether the use of smartphones or the acceptance of same-sex marriage." (Read more)