Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Rural-urban voting divide is greater than ever, analysis says

Trend line shows rural-urban divide: Democratic margin had a strong tendency to increase with population

An analysis by The Economist "suggests that the partisan divide between America’s dense cities and sparsely populated places is greater than ever," the magazine reports. Preliminary results from Decision Desk HQ, a provider of data, show that voters in most counties voted for President Trump by 35 percentage points, up from 32 points in 2016. "These are the bottom 20% of counties by population density," the magazine explains. "Counties with more than 10% Hispanics, who shifted to the right for reasons unrelated to density, have been excluded."

Voters in the most urbanized counties, the top 20 percent, went for Joe Biden by 29 points, "up from Hillary Clinton’s 25-point margin in 2016," The Economist reports, "More broadly, the greater the population density, the bigger the swing to the Democratic candidate (see chart). Even after controlling for other relevant demographic factors, such as the proportion of whites without college degrees or Hispanics in each county, the data suggest that urban and rural voters are more divided today than they were in 2016."

The Economist also observes, "Biden will win the national popular vote by about five percentage points. But his margin in the 'tipping-point' state that ultimately decided the election, Wisconsin, will be less than one point. That four-point advantage for the Republicans is the biggest in at least four decades. So long as Democrats continue to be the party of the cities, and Republicans the party of small-town and rural America, those biases will persist."

One other interesting point: Preliminary results show that Biden "gained most ground in counties that swung hardest toward Democrats between Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012 and Hillary Clinton’s failed bid for the White House in 2016," The Economist reports. "One possible explanation for this trend is the tendency for Democrats and Republicans to live among their own kind. Americans are increasingly sorting themselves into politically like-minded communities. For liberals, this means diverse, densely-populated cities; for conservatives it is places that are mostly white, working-class and sparse." For more on this phenomenon, see Bill Bishop's book, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart.

No comments: