Adam Smith Blog

A country divided by counties

MORE Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump on November 8th, and it wasn’t particularly close: once all the ballots from the West Coast are counted, she is expected to win the popular vote by 1m-2m. But her supporters were inefficiently concentrated in already-blue states like California and Maryland. Mr Trump, in contrast, banked his votes where he needed them: in closely divided Florida and North Carolina, and above all in the Midwest, where Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and (probably) Michigan all swung from blue to red, the latter three by the narrowest of margins.

As our map (above) of America’s voting patterns on a county-by-county basis going back to 1952 makes clear, Mr Trump’s gains were concentrated in rural areas across the northern United States. Republicans have long held the edge in America’s wide-open spaces, but never has the gap been this profound: a whopping 80% of voters who have over one square mile (2.6 square km) of land to enjoy to themselves backed Mr Trump. As the scatter plot below demonstrates, as counties become increasingly densely populated,…Continue reading

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