The 2008 Election : State By State
Barack Obama won the 2008 election by running up large margins in the
cities. But within states, the story gets more complicated. The
Democrat won the rural vote in a dozen states.
We here at the Yonder can’t get enough 2008 election charts, maps and graphs. So today, and for your weekend enjoyment and wonder, we present a few more data-laden looks at the contest between Barack Obama and John McCain.
Our interest is in how rural communities voted compared to places in the cities and the exurbs. We’re also interested in how this election differed from 2004.
The first chart we have today shows both. It displays the winning margin in rural, urban and exurban counties by state in 2008. And it shows how this margin changed from 2004.
To see the chart, click to the next page.
Here we go. Let’s look at the first state, Alabama. We can see here that John McCain won rural Alabama (check the column headings on top of the chart). Red means Republicans won; blue means Democrats won. And in checking the “Change from 2004,” we can see that McCain increased the Republican margin from the last election by 17,695 votes.
McCain increased the Republican margin in Alabama exurban counties, too. In urban Alabama, however, the Republican’s margin dropped by nearly 79,000 votes from 2004.
You can see that Obama won the rural vote in 12 states. He won the exurban vote in only 9 states.
The bottom line is that Obama won because he greatly increased the Democratic vote in urban counties while cutting Democratic loses in rural and exurban counties. The results from state to state, however, are more complicated — and more interesting.
Next, we look at where Barack Obama built his victory margin. This chart breaks down the 870 counties (out of 3,111 nationally) that the Democrat won. The counties are broken down by rural, exurban and urban. The chart also shows how votes from these counties changed from 2004.
What’s interesting (to us, anyway) is how Obama built most of his nearly 12 million vote margin by beating McCain by over 18 million votes in Democratic urban counties.
Here is the same chart as the one above, only from the Republican perspective. You can see that McCain lost votes in every category compared to George W. Bush’s totals in 2004.