New York’s Democratic Rural Vote Goes to Sanders

Eight years ago, when Hillary Clinton faced Barack Obama in the New York primary, she won two thirds of the rural vote. This year, she lost rural New York by about 20 points. On the GOP side, Trump wins across the board.

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Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won the rural New York Democratic Party presidential primary in a landslide, claiming 60 percent of the vote in the counties outside the state’s metropolitan regions.

But former New York Senator Hillary Clinton won the metro areas with nearly 59 percent of the vote — and won the state by 284,000 votes.

In the Republican contest, real estate developer Donald Trump won across the board, winning by large margins in big cities, small cities, and rural counties.

For Democrats, the New York presidential primary results continue a trend: Sanders sees his percentage of the vote rise in rural counties and in small towns.

See a roundup of the Daily Yonder’s primary coverage.

The difference in rural and urban voting patterns in New York couldn’t be clearer cut. (See the chart above.) Clinton won 13 counties, all urban. Sanders won 49 counties, half either rural or micropolitan (counties with towns between 10,000 and 50,000 people).

Most Democratic votes are in the cities. Only 4.6 percent of Democratic voters Tuesday lived in rural or micropolitan counties.

In 2008, when Clinton was running against Barack Obama, she won two-thirds of the vote in rural and micropolitan counties. She lost only one New York county to Obama: Tompkins, home to Ithaca and Cornell University.

Clinton’s winning margin over Obama in 2008 was 17 percentage points. She beat Sanders by 15 points this year.

Sanders had been hoping for better results in New York. (He was born in New York City.) The Vermont senator has said that he does best when turnout is high. And voting was relatively brisk this year. In the big turnout year of 2008, 1.86 million people voted in the Democratic primary. This year, 1.79 million voted.

On the Republican side of the primary ledger, Trump overwhelmed his opponents across the state. Trump took 61 percent of the vote in metropolitan counties, but saw his share of the vote drop off slightly in micropolitan counties, where he won 53.2 percent of the vote, and in rural counties, where Trump took 58 percent.

In many other states, Trump has done better in rural counties than in cities. In New York, the pattern didn’t hold true.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, who finished second overall, saw a slight bump from voters in small cities.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who finished last, performed worst in big cities, where he received 14.2 percent of the vote. Many commentators attributed his poor showing to negative remarks about “New York values,” which the candidate first made in Iowa in January.

Cruz’ rural showing was the opposite of his performance in Wisconsin, where he did better in cities en route to his statewide victory there.

How this story defines rural. This story uses the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) system to define cities, small cities, and rural areas. Metropolitan areas (called “cities” in our charts) are counties that have a city of 50,000 or more. Metropolitan areas also include the surrounding counties (no matter what size their population is) if the counties have strong economic ties to the central metropolitan area. Small cities (micropolitan areas) are outside an MSA and have a city of 10,000 or more residents. Rural areas (noncore) are counties that are not part of an MSA and do not have a city of 10,000 or greater. There’s more (lots more!) on this topic over at the USDA Economic Research Service website.

 

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