Two Americas emerge as the urban-rural divide increases

By Daniel Connell. University of Melbourne

Urban and rural voters are increasingly voting for different parties. That could pose a long-term challenge for Republicans.

Democrats have historically performed better with urban voters while Republicans have done well with rural ones.

If this year's polling is accurate, that trend will further intensify this year. According to the last five national polls with geographic breakdowns, Trump is leading Clinton by almost 25% among rural voters while Clinton's advantage over Trump is nearly 30% among urban dwellers.

The graphs below illustrate the increasing urban/rural polarisation in the US.

... while it will also be one of the worst performances by a Republican in urban areas in decades.

This increasing divide presents a significant demographic challenge for the Republican party as the urban population is growing faster than the rural one.

Some analysts have argued that voters have chosen where to live based on their pre-existing political beliefs, effectively self-sorting into homogeneous political communities. But in a thought provoking piece, data analyst and commentator Nate Silver argues that city living makes people more liberal. Voters in urban areas are naturally less isolated and are much more likely to interact people of different races, sexual orientations, religions and so on. Cities shape how people think, not the other way around, which is likely good news for the Democrats now and into the future.

Banner photo courtesy of Flickr/m01229

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