Thursday, August 09, 2018

Rural/urban political divide visible in Tuesday's elections

It's impossible to know whether the turnout in Tuesday's special election in Ohio's 12th Congressional District has broader implications for the November midterm elections, but if so, Republicans could have reason to feel concerned.

The 12th comprises most of the northern Columbus suburbs in Franklin County, suburban/rural Delaware County and five rural counties. It has been deep red for more than 30 years and voted solidly for President Trump in 2016. But in Tuesday's election between Democrat Danny O'Connor and Republican Troy Balderson, suburban voters had a 42 percent turnout, while rural turnout ranged from 27 to 32 percent, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin write for The New York Times. The race is still too close to call but Balderson seems very likely to be declared the winner.

"This is an ominous sign for Republicans: The highest-income and best-educated elements of the electorate — those deeply uneasy with President Trump — are showing the most interest in voting," Burns and Martin write. "Defending a few dozen districts that are either more heavily urban or feature a similar demographic mix as Ohio’s 12th District, Republicans will need to find a way to win back suburbanites or better galvanize rural voters. If they do not, their House majority will slip away."

Ishaan Tharoor of The Washington Post digs a little deeper into the historic rural/urban political divide, writing that it's not a phenomenon limited to the modern age or the United States.

"Modern politics have been historically shaped by the tensions between the dynamism of cities and the relative stasis of the provinces, hidebound by feudalism and poverty. Town and country divisions — and the cultural enmities they foster — stretch back to antiquity," Tharoor writes. "But the inexorable urbanization of the world means that cities are, more than ever, the center of gravity in global politics, culture and the economy. In many democratic European societies that shift has bred marginalization and resentment."

Tharoor writes a detailed and fascinating historical analysis that's well worth your time. Read it here.

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