Sunday, June 18, 2017

Political Polarization Is Closely Related To Geography In The US

The US has been experiencing a dramatic rise in political polarization in recent years.  It seems like we live in two different political universes.  Media organizations have tailored their information services to expand their share in these markets.  That may have contributed to political polarization but this study shows that our politics are uniquely distributed by geography.  Rural America is totally different from Urban America,  and US suburbs are somewhere in the middle.  Donald Trump's margin over Clinton in rural counties were much greater than other Republicans had achieved in previous elections.  Clinton defeated Trump handily in urban areas but she did not do as well as Obama had done.  The surge in Trump's rural votes would have required a similar increase in Clinton's urban vote to compensate for Trump]s rural margin.

There are also important differences within rural areas that are interesting.  It means different things to be a Republican or a Democrat in rural areas than it does outside of rural America.  Democrats feel like a minority group in rural areas.  They are also more likely to vote Republican than Democrats in Urban areas.  Its also the case that rural voters are much more pessimistic about the future than low income Americans in urban areas.  They believe that Trump is trying to help them but they don't expect that he will be able to do much about their economic fears.  Trump's policies will make things worse for them but but their low expectations set a low bar for Trump's policies.  More importantly, Trump's campaign against immigrants was his most powerful weapon in rural areas.  That was not an important issue in urban areas which are more diverse to begin with.  Rural Americans don't have much contact people who are much different than themselves and they don't want to have anything to do with ethnic or cultural diversity.

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