Friday, June 08, 2018

Poll finds most ruralites don't think urbanites share their values; most urbanites probably think likewise of ruralites

Most rural Americans, and probably most urban Americans, "perceive an urban-rural divide over values," the Pew Research Center reports, drawing on its latest poll.

The error margin for each result: plus or minus 1.7 percentage points
Among people who defined themselves as rural, 58 percent said their values are very different or somewhat different from those of urbanites, and 70 percent said "people who don’t live in their same type of community don’t understand the types of problems faced by those who do," Pew reports

Among the self-defined urbanites, 53 percent said their values differed from those of rural residents, and 65 percent said ruralites don't understand the problems of urban residents. Among self-defined suburbanites, the latter figure was only 34 percent.

The poll's error margin is plus or minus 1.7 percentage points, putting the 53 percent number just short of a statistical majority. No trend is known, because Pew hasn't asked the question before, but much of the difference can be attributed to politics, as seen in the 2016 election results. However, it's hard to sort out cause and effect, reports Emily Badger of The New York Times: "Political scientists warn that place-based resentments — 'no one respects rural America' or 'Trump is at war with cities' — can be easily exploited by politicians."

Badger notes that "urban-rural divides in politics are not new," but something new is seen by Katherine Cramer, a University of Wisconsin political scientist and author of The Politics of Resentment, a book mainly about rural resentment of urbanites in that state, which President Trump carried after Barack Obama carried it twice. “We’re in a political moment where cultural divides overlap with political divides, which overlap with geography,” Cramer told her.

The rural-urban divergence since Obama's election in 2008 "mirrors a sharp turn in support for the Republican Party among white voters with a high school diploma or less, a change that Michael Tesler, a political scientist at the University of California, Irvine, has argued is closely tied to racial attitudes that came to the fore with Mr. Obama’s election," Badger reports. But Juliana Horowitz, Pew's lead researcher on the project, said other factors are “the recession and the post-recession era. As we’ve seen these different types of communities become increasingly different politically, we’ve also seen them become increasingly different in their demographics and their economics.”

Badger writes that the poll "suggests a particularly troubling dimension to age-old distinctions between city and rural life. Differences in where and how Americans choose to live, which increasingly overlap with politics, are imbued with judgments about each other — and suspicion that others are negatively judging us."

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