Gingrich Wins S. C. Rural, Cities, and Exurbs

[imgbelt img=2012SCPrimaryRural.jpg]Some news reports say Newt Gingrich carried South Carolina by winning big in rural counties. In fact, the former House Speaker won by about the same margin in rural, urban and exurban counties. He did best in exurban South Carolina.


reported that “Gingrich did particularly well among rural voters in South Carolina.” 

[img:2012SCPrimaryExurban.jpg]It would be more accurate to say that Gingrich did only slightly better among rural voters. The former House Speaker’s victory was relatively even across rural, urban and exurban.

Gingrich did his worst in urban counties, which supplied half of all votes in the primary. But he still won 37.9% of those voters, just a little more than two percentage points below his statewide total.

Romney won 29.6% of urban voters — not quite two percentage points above his statewide total.

There just wasn’t a significant difference in how urban, rural and exurban voters cast their ballots. Just under half of South Carolina voters (49.7%) in total came from cities; Gingrich won 46.5% of his votes from urban areas.

There were much larger differences among rural, urban and exurban voters in Iowa and New Hampshire than in South Carolina.

[img:2012SCPrimaryUrban.jpg]We are seeing a recurring phenomenon in news media exit polls that is distorting reporting on the vote. The exit polls said 29% of those voting come from rural areas. (The exit polls ask voters if they live in a city of more than 50,000, a suburb or a rural area.) 

When you count voters who live in counties determined to be rural by the U.S. Census, however, only 20.3% of voters are rural.

In other words, the term “rural” is not well defined in exit polling. For that matter, neither is urban.