Urban Vs Rural = Democrat Vs Republican?

Via Political Animal, there is an interesting data analysis about the Democrat-Republican divide.

The two parties today not only represent different political philosophies but find their core support in different kinds of communities. The nation has gone through a big sort, a sifting of people and politics into what is becoming two Americas. One is urban and Democratic, the other Republican, suburban and rural.

Although the split isn’t true in every case, divisions between city and countryside nationally are stark, widespread and rapidly growing.

[…] In the 1980 presidential race, Democratic and Republican counties on average had about the same number of voters. By 2000, however, the average Democratic county had three times as many voters as the average Republican county.

[…] In the country’s most partisan counties —- those where one party wins by more than 20 percentage points —- the split is overwhelming. In 2000, the average landslide Democratic county was eight times larger than the average landslide Republican county. In 1980, the average landslide Republican county was more populous than the average partisan Democratic county.

[…] Twelve of the 20 most Democratic counties […] are in metro areas, including the District of Columbia, the Bronx, San Francisco County, Philadelphia County and St. Louis County.

But out of the 115 counties with the strongest Republican support, only four are in metro areas —- one in Utah, another in Arizona, a third outside Atlanta and the fourth the president’s hometown of Midland.

They also have the list of the 100 most Democratic counties in the 2000 presidential election and the 100 most Republican counties in the 2000 presidential election.

Looking at those lists, a few things jump out. For example, 10 states are not represented in the two lists. These are Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington.

Another is how heavily Republican these counties are compared to the Democratic counties. The last county on the Republican top 100 voted 81.3% for Bush in 2000. Only 10 counties were more Democratic than that and the 100th Democratic county was only 64.9% for Gore in 2000.

States with most number of partisan counties were: Texas (27), Nebraska (21), Utah (16) and Idaho (11). Of these, only 7 Texas counties were Democratic while all the rest were Republican. This means that 68 out of the top 100 Republican counties were located in these 4 states. I expected the others but Nebraska was a surprise to me.

The maximum number of Democratic counties were in the following states: Alabama (7 rural counties), California (7 urban/suburban counties), New Mexico (6 rural + 1 urban county) and Texas (7 rural counties).

Thirty-three states and Washington DC are represented in the Democratic top 100 while only 14 states are present in the Republican list.

Categorized as Politics

By Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer


  1. Another worthwhile fact that has been omitted constantly is that, of the 100 most Democratic counties, eight are Indian reservations – including four in the otherwise overwhelmingly Republican Dakotas, two in New Mexico, one in Arizona, and one in Wisconsin.

    On the other hand, only two states that went Democratic overall have even one (and in both cases only one) county among the 100 most Republican counties. Moreover, one of these (Grant County in eastern Oregon) is in what is basically a strongly Republican area – like the northern states of the Mountain West.

    However, your general points are spot on, especially about how the most Republican counties are heavily concentrated.

    The only metropolitan county in the Republican list, Utah County, is the centre of the Mormon heartland (containing Brigham Young University) where Clinton’s and Gore’s behaviour would be seen as deeply sinful and ungodly. In Utah County, as Jon Krakauer says in “Under The Banner Of Heaven”, social norms are still like they were in the rest of the West before World War I.

  2. The original idea of the politcal party was the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.
    The sad truth however is that in practice politcal parties give power to an individual without that individual having to gain it based only on their own merit but instead to gain it by sharing the same label as other individuals.(The label does not necessarily reflect values.)
    Empty/false promises not withstanding it should be easy to see the limitations of this system.

    I fervently believe that if “parties” were disregarded entirely and people had to gain the trust of others on his/her own, this entire nation would be not only much different but much better off as well. Im NOT saying “parties” should be outlawed, disbanded, etc. Just disregarded and/or marginalized.

    Take a close look at the very first president/commander in chief of the United States. In no small part due to his leadership, the most powerful nation in human history came into existence. What was his political party again? (Look it up.) Food for thought.

  3. youblow: You are not welcome.

    D: While there are pros and cons in a party-based electoral democracy, every democracy in recent history has developed parties because they are a natural way to organize. In fact, several democracies have party-list elections where you vote for the party not an individual candidate.

    The only times non-party systems have been tried in recent years have been by dictators to increase their own power.

Comments are closed.