Graph by The Economist shows spread in Democratic presidential
vote share between the most urban and the most rural counties.
"While Mr. Biden won the nationwide popular vote last year, he lost the popular vote by 1.3 points in the median state, North Carolina. The median seat is important because it’s the one that tips control of the chamber. If we pretend that a vote for Mr. Biden is a vote for a Democratic senator and that all states elected Senators the same year, a hypothetical replay of the 2020 election would have delivered 52 Senate seats for Republicans despite their large popular-vote loss.
"To show how unfair this is, we can simulate another hypothetical 2020 election where Mr. Biden and Donald Trump were perfectly tied in terms of overall votes. The returns suggest Democrats would lose the tipping-point Senate seat by nearly six points. Assuming (again hypothetically) that all the Senate’s seats were in play, the Republicans would have won 31 states worth 62 senators—even though the popular vote was 50-50. In contrast, Democrats would have to win the chamber’s popular vote by 15 percentage points to win 62 members. . . .
"Research has shown geographic polarization persists even after you control for relevant demographic traits. An article published by James Gimpel, Nathan Lovin, Bryant Moy and Andrew Reeves in Political Behavior last year grouped Americans into different demographic buckets and still found geographic polarisation among them. For example, honing in only on people who have college degrees, the authors find that those who lived nearer to cities still vote more for Democrats than those further away. That was true when they sorted people by wealth, religion and age. There is something about the politics of place that isn’t fully captured by our demography-based understanding of politics.
|Katherine Cramer's book|
"But culture and the pace of life in the two places also differ. Small towns west of the Mississippi River tend to be traditionalist, with a long history of agrarian, conservative socio-political culture. Many to the east have been battered by deindustrialization. Rural Westerners are often nostalgically individualistic, many holding a settler mindset inherited from their ancestors who made their way west in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Cities, by contrast, draw people from all walks of life and many different places, which tends to produce a more cosmopolitan outlook and progressive politics.
"Simply put, the life experiences of people in rural and urban areas are worlds apart, and politicians have exploited this divergence. Ms. Cramer notes that Scott Walker won Wisconsin’s governorship by running as an anti-city Republican tea-party candidate in 2010. Donald Trump, too, frequently demonized cities and the people that live there—continuing a long tradition of right-leaning politicians vilifying and scapegoating 'urbanites' in American politics."