Shorter Lives, Republican Votes
There are 737 counties in the U.S. where health conditions are so poor that the length of women’s lives has been declining.
Those counties voted overwhelmingly for Republican John McCain in 2008.
In the counties where female longevity is declining, McCain won 61.4% of the vote in 2008. In all U.S. counties, the Republican won 45.6% of the ballots cast in the last election.
Barack Obama won 38.6% of the vote in the counties with falling women’s longevity while winning the presidency with 52.9% of the ballots nationally.
The map above shows all 737 counties with declining female longevity and how they voted in 2009. Red counties voted for McCain; blue for Obama. Click on the map to see a larger version.
Most of these counties are rural. Of the 737 counties with falling female life spans, 561 are rural, 138 are exurban (counties in metro areas, but rural in character) and 38 are in cities.
Declining longevity is a new phenomenon in the U.S., where life spans have been lengthening in every community for decades.
Nearly one out of every four rural residents lives in a county where women are living shorter lives. Only 2.3% of city dwellers live in counties with declining female longevity; in exurban counties, it’s 20.2%.
(For a description of the research and full maps of all rural counties, go here.)
The voting percentages from 2008 are consistent across rural, urban and exurban communities. In all geographies, the Democratic vote was lower in those communities where life expectancy for women was declining.
The gap is largest among city voters. Urban counties with stable or rising female life spans had 55.8% majorities for President Obama — more than 15 percentage points higher than in urban counties with declining female longevity.
The gap in rural America was less than seven points.
As a candidate in 2008, Barack Obama made health care a central theme of his campaign. As president, he pushed through a major reform of the health care system.