Dems Lost Everywhere but Biggest Cities
Yes, rural areas vote Republican. But so do many metropolitan counties, it turns out. Democrats don’t have a “rural problem.” They have an “everywhere-but-big-cities problem.”
2. Counties that are part of metropolitan regions with 250,000 to 1 million people. (379 counties.)
3. Counties that are part of metropolitan regions with fewer than 250,000 people. (356 counties.)
The rest of the counties, in groups 4 through 9, are non-metropolitan. They are sorted into groups that are increasingly rural:
4. Non-metro counties with urban populations of 20,000 or more and adjacent to a metropolitan region. (214 counties.)
5. Non-metro counties with urban populations of 20,000 or more but not adjacent to a metro area. (92 counties.)
6. Non-metro counties with urban populations of 2,500 to 19,999 and adjacent to a metro area. (593 counties.)
7. Non-metro counties with urban populations of 2,500 to 19,999 people and not adjacent to a metro area. (433 counties.)
8. Completely rural counties with less than 2,500 urban population that are adjacent to metro areas. (220 counties.)
9. Completely rural counties with less than 2,500 urban population and not adjacent to a metro area. (424 counties.)
(To see a complete explanation of RUCC, go here.)
Now the chart above should make sense. We totaled the vote (Republican and Democratic) by RUCC, one through nine. Red bars show the percent of the Republican vote in each category; blue shows the percent of Democratic votes in each category.)
You can see that Democrats scored big in RUCC #1, the counties in the nation’s most populous urban areas, winning 53.3 percent of the vote. Democrats do well nationally because these counties had just over half the total vote in November.
But in every other category — urban and rural — Democrats lost by 10 percentage points or more.
Yes, the most rural category (9) is also the most Republican. But category 8 is less Republican than category 3, a group of metropolitan counties.
There is really no discernable pattern. Except: Democrats do well in the biggest of cities; in the rest of the country, Republicans win by landslide numbers.
The outlier here geographically has nothing to do with how rural a place might be. The question is why Republicans don’t do better in major metropolitan areas — and why Democrats do well ONLY in the biggest cities.