New Atlantic Article Highlights Growing Geographic Divide

Posted by Stephen Beban on October 30, 2016

In The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein and Leah Askarinam examine recent voting trends in Ohio, Florida, and Colorado between 2004 and 2008, as well as North Carolina in 2008 and 2012. Their analysis, using data from the firm Polidata, shows that Democrats have disproportionately gained support in urban areas, whilst Republicans (despite losing ground overall, having lost both the 2008 and 2012 elections) have gained in rural and blue-collar areas.

The resulting distribution of support has proven more efficient for Republicans at converting votes to seats, with Democrats wasting many votes in safe, urban districts. These trends have contributed to the bias toward the Republican Party that exists in U.S. House elections, as FairVote documents in our Monopoly Politics report. This skew allowed Republicans to hold the U.S. House in 2012, despite winning fewer votes than Democrats.

The authors note that polls show Donald Trump exacerbating these trends (performing worse among minorities, but excelling among blue-collar whites). However, one shift in the coalitions is that Trump is driving college-educated whites –whom Romney won by 6 points in 2012 and who hold the balance in suburban seats – toward the Democrats. Could this shift reduce (and potentially flip) the partisan bias in the U.S. House? Possibly. Bias in the U.S. House can afflict either party, and is something that everyone who cares about fair results should be interested in fixing.

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