The little debate that LTG and I had about the political culture of the upper midwest got me thinking about something. For the most part American politics is increasingly dominated by an urban vs rural dynamic. Most of the states with large urban populations vote for Democrats most of the time. Most of the states that are mostly rural or small towns vote for Republicans. Even within states you can see this pattern. In most maps of recent presidential election results you can see high percentages of the Democrat in countries in which major cities are located and high percentages for the Republican in counties with no cities. Some good examples of this patter would be California and Kansas. Check out the county by county maps from the New York Times election results page here. You can zoom in on the state you are interested in and change the election year with a handy sliding scale device. In the California map you can see the the densely populated coastal areas are largely voting Democratic (the major exception being wealthy, suburban Orange County). You can also see the large Republican vote shares in the more sparsely populated interior counties. Kansas is even more striking. You can see that most of the Democratic votes are concentrated in and around Kansas City. The little blue county just SW of Kansas City is the county where the University of Kansas is located. The blue county due south is a swing county that goes for either party (barely) depending on the year. You can see a similar pattern in Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Florida, Tennessee, and even Utah and Texas. In Texas (famous as a Republican stronghold), Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin stick out like sore thumbs. The clump of Democratic counties along the border are due to large Tejano/Latino populations.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
There are some notable exceptions however. One is the upper midwest. Check out Iowa or Minnesota. In those states there are some rural counties that vote consistently for Democrats. Another exception is Oklahoma where even Oklahoma City and Tulsa (both fairly large cities both with large Universities nearby) vote for Republicans. Mississippi and Alabama have some rural counties voting for Democrats and these counties mostly are those with large African American populations (this part of the South is one of the few places in the USA where African Americans are still living in numbers in rural areas).
The NY Times map is really fun too. You can look at the "county bubbles." You'll notice that there are very few large, red bubbles and few small blue ones. You can look at the county shift and see that Obama did better than Kerry did in most of the country except for a swath of the hill/mountain South and Louisiana/East Texas (where large numbers of poor blacks were displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita).
I'm not sure what explains all these exceptions - there are probably different reasons for the exceptions in each case/region. But they are noteworthy. These patterns may be interesting for the ongoing struggle for marriage equality and other social issues. They may point to urban areas that - despite being relatively cosmopolitan - won't be tolerant of marriage equality (like Oklahoma City or . On the flip side they MAY point to rural areas that won't be quite so intolerant.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 4:19 AM