Republicans win rural again, across US and in NY

In Box readers know that one of my big preoccupations is the political divide between urban and rural America.

Veteran reporter and analyst Bill Bishop has written an insightful take on Tuesday’s vote and his conclusion is that once again the GOP won big by relying on a vast swath of small town voters.

“The explanation by many is that Democrats lost the South,” Bishop writes, “but the rural losses were mostly in the north. Democrats now can ask, “What’s the matter with New Hampshire?”

According to Bishop’s analysis — written with Julie Ardery — 39 of the Democratic districts claimed by the GOP this week were in heavily rural areas.

That accounts for fully two-thirds of their gains.

“Before the election almost half (61) of the 125 most rural districts were held by Democrats,” Bishop notes.

“By the end of the day Tuesday, the number of rural Democrats had been cut to just 22. Just 18 percent of the most rural House districts are now represented by Democrats.”

Among the small-town-heavy House districts captured by the GOP were New York’s 20th and 24th, where rural voters swung overwhelmingly into the R-column.

The full article is in Bishop’s on-line magazine about rural life, called Daily Yonder.  Read all about it here.


8 Comments on “Republicans win rural again, across US and in NY”

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  1. Bret4207 says:

    The thought occurs to me that the differences between Northern NY and NYC are similar to the issue you’re bringing up Brian- NYC controls our State. They simply have the numbers (NYC and the greater metropolitan area) to squash northern, central and western NY. Who cares what the hicks in St Lawrence, Hamilton or Clinton Co. need or want? What’s THE CITY want? Kind of the same thing when the nations 7 largest cities could conceivably swing every Presidential vote without that pesky Electoral College. You get feeling disenfranchised after a while, to borrow a politically correct phrase. When you consider the current Administration is made up largely of city folks, urban liberals so to speak, then might there not be some backlash against that? It’s not like when we had Reagan going out to cut wood or ride his horses or when Jimmy Carter “The simple Peanut Farmer” were in office. The divide is more palpable. Maybe that’s part of it.

  2. The thing is, I don’t see the Republican agenda being any more favorable toward small towns and rural areas. They mainly favor large corporate interests and big corporations are either absent from small town areas or exploit them. So why do rural folks think that Republican government is better for them?

  3. BRFVolpe says:

    I just googled “unemployment rural vs urban”, and found that this Inbox blog had no comments to Jonathan Brown’s March 2009 post. A MO study from 1970 to 2000 found that unemployment, underemployment and mortality were all worse in rural areas. My guess is that is a primary factor this time, in the NC. And I have the same question of rural folks as James.

  4. DBW says:

    In response to JB’s question. For many rural residents being Republican is an old habit. Also, the Republicans pay lip service to personal freedom and property rights. Many rural residents put a high value on their individual freedom and being left alone. Expectations of government are low, and there is a real distrust of even town government. Many resent zoning as an unnecessary intrusion. And don’t get Adirondackers going about the APA.
    Ties to Republicans are fraying, but this current administration does have an urban bias. Having said that, we are in a volatile time period where every two years the party in power is suffering dramatic losses. If Republicans overstep, they could find themsleves on the outs again in 2012.

  5. Bret4207 says:

    Mr Bullard, maybe it’s not that rural people think Republicans will “be better for them”, but that Democrats will be worse? A few examples come to mind- traditionally Democrats have been the anti-gun party, Republicans the opposite. Democrats have been the entitlement party, Republicans not. It’s Democrats passing open burning legislation that cost rural landowners money, Democrats trying to outlaw outdoor wood boilers, Democrats talking about outlawing or restricting hunting, fishing trapping, Democrats are traditionally against any motorized vehicles on State lands but actively support the more urban elitist “Gore-tex and granola” crowd. It’s liberal who have brought up the idea of charging rural landowners for the water they draw from their wells, talking about dust from farming, turning a rocky paddock into a “concentrated animal feedlot” and charging the farmer big bucks for utilizing his own land.

    So maybe it’s not that the current style Republican is any better, but that the Democrats have a track record of doing more visible/personal harm. Of course, that depends on your perception, doesn’t it?

  6. mervel says:

    It is cultural. For whatever reason the Republicans have figured out how to speak to and find affinity with rural working class voters, while Democrats seem to have found ways to simply demean them and talk down to them . Ironically the Republican Party is becoming the Populist Party, which I don’t fully understand, but it is fascinating.
    As far as unemployment goes, rural states have done far far better, better in this last recession. The Midwest and upper Midwest have unemployment rates less than 6%, some as low as 4% right now in the midst of this massive recession.

  7. michael coffey says:

    rural v city is again interesting. However, have there been any figures about the erosion of democratic support, white v. minorities?

  8. sam says:

    An overly simplistic analysis. Murphy won one county: Essex, the most rural in the district.

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