Mitt Romney won the urban and the rural vote, but he lost in Florida's exurbs. The former Massachusetts governor continues to do best in the cities.
More than 9 out of 10 Republican voters in Florida live in urban areas. Mitt Romney did best in the cities in yesterday’s primary and so he easily won the Republican presidential contest Tuesday.
Romney won 46.4 percent of the Republican primary vote, besting former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was supported by 31.9% of voters. Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum won 13.3 percent of the vote.
The margins in rural, urban and exurban counties varied among the candidates, however. (See the charts on the next page.) The former Massachusetts governor won 47.1 percent of the urban vote in Florida compared to Gringrich’s 31.3% take in the cities.
In rural counties, Romney won 40.5 percent; Gingrich won 38.1%.
Romney’s winning margin was 15.8 percentage points over Gingrich in urban counties. In rural counties, however, Romney’s lead shrank to 2.4 points.
The largest difference in the vote came with exurban voters. Gingrich won the exurban vote in Florida, with 42.2% of the vote. Romney won only 33.9% of the vote in exurban counties.
(Exurban counties lie on the edges of metropolitan areas. They are part of metro regions, according to the U.S. Census, but nearly half of their residents live in rural settings. People in exurban counties largely work in urban counties, but then drive home to the outskirts of metro regions in the evening. Rural counties in this analysis are nonmetropolitan according to the Census. Urban counties are metro. In Florida, 91.3 percent of Republican votes were urban; 7.4 percent were rural and 1.3 percent were exurban.)
Romney’s third best showing came in Sumter County, a rural retirement county in Central Florida north of Orlando. Romney held a rally at The Villages, a retirement community, on the night before the election where he led a chorus of America the Beautiful.
Sumter has the highest percentage of Social Security recipients in the nation, with 55 percent of the population receiving some kind of Social Security benefit.
Romney won 56.8 percent of the vote in Sumter County.
Romney continues to do best in the cities. His largest percentages in all the primaries have come from urban voters.
Here is how the top four candidates fared among rural voters.[img:2012FLPrimaryRural.jpg]
Below are the results among exurban voters.[img:2012FLPrimaryExurban.jpg]
Below are the results in the Florida primary among urban voters.[img:2012FLPrimaryUrban.jpg]