Thursday, December 01, 2016

Urban and rural America are becoming increasingly polarized

In what is likely the most divisive election in recent history, deep-rooted patterns in how the country votes have become more pronounced. The majority of counties with populations greater than 500,000 — where roughly half of Americans live — swung further to the left. In Los Angeles County, for example, about 71 percent of votes went for Hillary Clinton this year, compared with about 69 percent for Obama in 2008 and 2012, and 63 percent for John F. Kerry in 2004. That effect even spilled into neighboring Orange County, which before this election had not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936. Even in ruby-red Texas, the largest urban counties swung left. Take Harris County, home to Houston, as an example. Obama won this county by less than one-tenth of 1 percent in 2012, but Clinton beat Donald Trump there by more than 12 percentage points — a margin greater than George W. Bush’s in either of his presidential campaigns. Even Tarrant County — home to Fort Worth — swung to the left but was still carried by Trump. Outside these urban counties, the opposite is true. In counties with fewer than 100,000 people — which make up 80 percent of counties in the country but contain only about 20 percent of the population — 9 out of 10 voted more Republican than they did in 2004. Aside from the very urban and the very rural, the election was won and lost in America’s medium-size counties. Midwestern states, suburban counties and medium-size cities that voted for Obama in 2012 went for Trump, effectively handing him the presidency...more

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