On average, 24 percent of U.S. counties change allegiance in a presidential election, voting for a different party than they did four years earlier. This year, only 208 counties (6.8%) flipped — a 100 year low.
Daily Yonder/Robert CushingThis map shows the 208 counties that changed party from 2008 to 2012. This was the fewest number of flipped counties in 100 years. Click on the map to see a larger version.
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent more than $1 billion each on their presidential campaigns.
The map above tells you what kind of change a couple of billion dollars will buy you in today’s America.
If the map looks largely blank to you, then you’re getting the picture. The map shows all the counties that switched allegiance between 2008 and 2012 — the counties that voted for one party four years ago and a different party in November.
There are exactly 208 of these counties — flippers, we call them. Only 208 counties changed allegiance in 2012 out of the more than 3,100 counties that cast votes.
President Obama’s campaign hired the brightest batch of social psychologists and social media experts the tech and academic worlds had to offer. They constructed complicated models predicting the behavior of individual voters and intricate social media strategies.
In the end, only 11 counties that favored John McCain in 2008 flipped in this election to support the Democrat. There were 197 counties that switched from Democrat in 2008 to Republican in 2012.
Eight out of ten of the counties that flipped were either rural or exurban. Only 42 of the flippers were urban counties.
Statistician Robert Cushing checked all the presidential elections in the last 100 years and found that, on average, 24 percent of all counties switch parties from one election to the next.
The 208 counties that changed from 2008 to 2012 amounted to less than seven percent of all counties. That is the fewest flippers of any election in the last century.
A large group of counties flipped from Democrat to Republican in the Upper Midwest. Twenty-six Michigan counties that voted Democratic in 2008 turned Republican in this election. Twenty-four counties in Wisconsin flipped Republican, as did 23 in Illinois and 16 in Iowa.
The map above shows all the flippers. Click on the map to see a larger version.
Here is how the vote in rural and exurban counties looks on a map. Blue counties went Democratic; red counties are Republican. Dark red counties had Republican landslide wins, where Romney won more than 55 percent of the vote. Dark blue counties were landslide Democratic.
More than seven out of ten rural and exurban counties were landslide Republican counties.
Only a little more than 15 percent voted Democratic in 2012.
You can do your own reporting here. Note the Democratic counties in the southern "black belt" counties and in the more Hispanic counties of Texas and the Southwest. Also, Democrats have a strong hold in New England and the upper Midwest.
In the most rural states, which incumbent senators will run for re-election and who will likely challengers be? Matt Barron sniffs out political clues from Montana to Maine.
Welcome to the 2013-2014 election cycle, a wonderful feature of the permanent campaign. As the ink has dried on the redistricting maps drawn after the 2010 federal Census, it is now clear from the results of November 6, that barring a tidal-wave election along the lines of the 1974 post-Watergate tsunami, Republicans should be locked into their majority control of the U.S. House for the balance of the decade. This built-in advantage means that the GOP only needs to win 28 of 99 swing districts/seats in any given election between 2014-2020 to remain in control of the House.
These conditions again bring the focus to the Senate races that will take place in the 2014 midterms. As political handicappers are already prognosticating their outlooks for the 20 Democrats and 13 Republicans up for re-election in two years, here’s my analysis, concentrating on the most rural states where these Senate contests will occur. States are ranked by % rural population as determined by the 2012 Almanac of American Politics from Census 2012 data (this ranking does not take into account small cities):
In October, a National Rural Assembly poll found Mitt Romney winning rural voters in nine swing states by 22 points. By the time the election came, that massive lead had been reduced to a smidgen over 10.
Daily YonderThe Republicans have held an advantage among rural voters in every presidential vote this century. A very large Romney advantage in October among rural voters in nine swing states, according to a National Rural Assembly poll, was shaved a bit by the time the final votes were tallied
In September and October, the National Rural Assembly ran two polls of rural voters in nine swing states.
The first poll showed Republican Mitt Romney leading President Obama 54 percent to 40 percent. In October, the Republican had surged to a 59 percent to 37 percent lead.
That was the high point for Romney — and begins the good news/bad news story for Democrats in rural America.
By the time the final votes were tallied, Romney's rural surge had subsided a bit. He won the rural vote in those nine swing states with 55.3 percent of the vote compared to 43.1 percent for Obama. (The states were Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Virginia.)
The October poll seemed to catch Romney at a high point in his campaign. By the time real votes were cast, Romney won 53.3 percent of the vote and Obama got 43.1 percent — about what the September poll showed.
If Romney had received the percentages that he got in the October poll, the Republican would have won an additional 318,000 votes from rural counties in these swing states. That would have cut President Obama's winning total in these nine states in half.
In 2008 in those same states, Republican John McCain won 50 percent and Obama won 46.7 percent. Obama lost a little over three percentage points among rural swing state voters from his 2008 totals.
That was about average. The Democrat was down in most areas and among most demographics from 2008.
So the good news for Dems is that things weren't as bad as they could have been — or as they were eight years ago. The bad news for Democrats is that gains they made in rural America disappeared in 2012.
Justin Sullivan/Getty, via Cloture ClubDemocrat Jon Tester of Montana, the Senate's only farmer, won relection in a tight race. The campaign of his opponent, Republican Denny Rehberg, had been well financed by super PACs.
Rural Americans left some interesting and confounding footprints across the electoral landscape of 2012 in races up and down the ballot. While the mainstream media and punditocracy likes to neatly categorize rural voters as Republican, the results paint a more nuanced picture.
Through many recent elections, the conventional wisdom had been that Republicans take rural folks for granted while Democrats ignore them. That pattern began to change a bit in 2006 and in 2008, when Obama won 7 percentage points more of the rural vote than John Kerry had in 2004. Obama’s rural gains came from executing a focused rural strategy and devoting resources to that effort.
However, Obama’s share of the 2012 rural vote dropped to 37% on November 6; he lost eight of the 10 most-rural states to Romney and 15 of the 19 states that are more than one-third rural to the former Massachusetts governor.
This is somewhat odd in that it can be argued that much of rural America has thrived during Obama’s first term. The agriculture and energy sectors are strong with net farm income up for most crops and commodities and increased domestic production of oil and gas creating booming economies from Texas up into the Great Plains. Obama has invested heavily in rural broadband and pushed through trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama that he and others hope will expand exports.
Let's go out West for the last of our swing state roundup of Tuesday's vote.
included are the states west of the Mississippi — Iowa, Colorado and Nevada. We are looking to see how rural and exurban counties voted. By exurban, we mean counties that are within metropolitan areas, but have about half their populations living in rural settings.
Iowa has the largest (in percentage terms) rural population, and it's the place where President Obama began his national run for office five years ago. You can see the Iowa results in the chart above — and you will notice what by now is a familiar pattern.
President Obama won Iowa by carrying the cities (which account for 48.6 percent of the vote in Iowa). Romney won the rural and exurban counties. And the Republican carried the exurban counties by higher margins than rural.
What the chart doesn't show you is that President Obama's margins were smaller than four years ago. As in other states we've examined, the President was running two to three percentage points behind his share of votes in 2008.
And his total votes were lower, too. In 2008, Obama won rural Iowa by 19,866 votes. This year, he lost rural counties by just over 20,000 votes. He got 21,000 fewer votes in Iowa this year than four years ago.
The same pattern emerged in Colorado: the President's percentages were lower in rural, urban and exurban counties this year than in 2008. And, again, Romney won rural counties by a good margin and the exurbs by a landslide.
Months ago, reports from Minnesota had the rural vote as crucial to passage or defeat of two amendments. One would ban gay marriage and the other would require a photo ID to vote. Rural voters won one and lost one.
Back in June, we read an article in the Minneapolis newspaper saying, "Rural Minnesota is likely to be the deciding ground in November for the intense campaign over a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage."
In subsequent months, we heard that rural voters in Minnesota were seen as key in two big amendments there — the gay marriage proposal and an amendment that would require voters to show a photo ID at the polls.
We decided to see what happened in these two closely contested issues.
First, both amendments failed. Gay marriage was not banned in the Minnesota constitution: 51.8 percent voted no on the amendment; 48.2 voted yes.
Voters won't be required in the state to bring a photo ID to the polls: 53 percent voted no; 47 percent voted yes.
Rural and exurban voters supported the gay marriage amendment: 55 percent of exurban voters supported the gay marriage ban, as did 60 percent of rural voters. This amendment was defeated in the cities, where 58.6 percent of voters opposed it.
Only exurban voters supported the photo ID voter bill, with 51.2 percent supporting. (The exurbs are part of metropolitan regions, but they are places where about half the population lived in a rural setting.)
Rural voters were against the voter ID bill only slightly: 50.7 percent voted against the proposal. In urban counties, 55 percent voted against the bill.
Rural voters made up 26.8 percent of the vote on these issues. Exurban voters were 12.3 percent of the vote; urban voters were 60.9 percent of the total.