Rural-Urban Split Disappearing from American Politics

Democrats are in cities and Republicans are in rural areas, according to the results of recent elections. But with two metropolitan candidates in this year's election and an increasingly urbanized populace, that split may become obsolete.

"Both presidential candidates are technically big city guys. But a better way to label Senators McCain and Obama is "big metro guys." Chicago and Phoenix also rank among the largest metropolitan areas. In this way, the two candidates typify a nation now dominated by urban regions."

"In the last two elections, the Democrats counted on the votes from cities and inner suburbs while Republicans appealed to the regional fringe and beyond. The result has been a near even split in the electorate. The Republicans have won by running up overwhelming numbers in non-metro America while picking up just enough votes among suburbanites and even city dwellers to eke out narrow victories. The trick has been to energize the conservative rural base by running against big city culture and lifestyle, while not alienating typically more moderate suburbanites."

"But this strategy may have run its course primarily because big metropolitan areas are growing much faster than small towns. They are also becoming dramatically more diverse. The new destination for immigrants is not found on the old gritty streets of lower Manhattan, but in the postwar suburbs that surround all big cities. In the process, the ring of "first suburbs" is now more cosmopolitan and urbanized."

Full Story: Running Against the Metros Makes for Perilous Politics

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