Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Why has rural become synonymous with Republican?

Beneath the recent battle for the Senate underlies a tension that subsumes partisanship and has been present for years: urban verse rural. This divide was alluded to by Mr. Dale Sterns of DowneyBrand in his recent lecture at King Hall. During his lecture, Mr. Sterns mentioned that the urban populations' vote has been trumping that of the sub-urban and rural residents in recent elections.

The difference in partisanship seems to be more and more correlated with how and where people live.
If you are rural, you likely live in spread-out, open, low-population, perhaps agrarian area. If you live in an urban area, you likely experience a high population density and diverse community.

This creates a divide: 'blue' city and 'red' countryside. According to a recent article and the Atlantic, the divide between the blue urban and red rural areas has been growing since 1984, “culminating in 2012, when 27 out of the nation's 30 most populous cities voted Democratic.” This is in contrast to everywhere else, which is much more red.

Most urban area voters have been voting Democratic. This trend in separation skews the national average of counties in presidential elections. There are more rural counties than urban, thus more counties seemingly vote Republican as when compared to the overall vote because there are more rural counties, but fewer rural voters.

This was evidenced in the recent midterm election. Across the nation, rural counties turned out in high numbers and helped turn their states red. For example, in Clark County, Nevada, (where more than two-thirds of the state’s population resides) overall voter turnout was only 41 percent. Whereas turnout in many rural counties topped 60 percent, hitting 83 percent in Lander and 80 percent Eureka Counties. This turnout played a key role in the Republican sweep of statewide offices on the ballot in Nevada. Thus, it is clear that the votes of rural and small-town Americans remain crucial in statewide and presidential elections.

But why the divide? Why has rural become synonymous with Republican?

The Atlantic asserts that the “Democrats did it to themselves.” The headline of the article reveals the contention, “Chuck Schumer is right: Prioritizing healthcare and civil rights over the party's traditional focus on helping working-class Americans move up was a noble but costly choice.” There are many reasons for this decline in support for Democrats among certain groups, but the Atlantic article asserts that it is an abandoning of the New Deal Democratic principles that have caused the rift between rural America and the Democratic Party. 

I think that the problem is much deeper. However, I do feel that rural America likely feels that the Republican party is more concerned with their interests, where this is truthful or mere propaganda.

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