Industrial Metropolis

January 11, 2013
As Washington debates how to fix the economy, one essential piece of the puzzle, the housing market, remains a drag. At its go-go peak in 2005, the residential housing industry made up about 19% of the national gross domestic product. After the housing crunch and the foreclosures that poured into banks, the industry’s percentage of GDP dropped sharply. In 2010, the industry was down to about 15% of GDP. It has improved since, but is still limping along. This week saw a few more pieces in the housing turnaround effort fall into place, including the billion-dollar settlement of some banks over their housing practices and new rules for mortgage lenders from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But despite the best efforts of policy makers, greasing the skids for a housing recovery presents some unique challenges for Congress and the Obama Administration. And a big part of any turnaround equation may simply involve waiting. The housing collapse wasn’t just a...
November 29, 2012
As the votes from the 2012 election have trickled in, the size of President Obama’s victory has grown – it’s now more than 4 million votes. That count should signify two things to Republicans who wanted to portray President Obama’s win as a squeaker. One, while this margin is no mandate, it is bigger than either of George W. Bush’s presidential wins in 2000 (in which he actually lost the popular vote) or 2004. Two, despite some GOP critiques that Mr. Obama won by capturing small slices of the electorate, the net result was a pretty broad win. But looked at through Patchwork Nation, there is one larger overriding concern for the Republicans in the 2012 election results: despite all the talk of minority voters and demographic segments, there are signs they are losing the political middle. That shift reveals itself when you look at the 2012 vote counts and margins compared to previous elections, particularly 2004, in the wealthy Monied Burbs, the...
November 26, 2012
It’s nice to think that the holidays are bigger than politics. With a long, hard election behind us, the healing can begin as Democrats and Republicans unite in an annual binge of communal consumerism. Alas, it’s not that simple. America’s red/blue divide goes deeper than the ballot box. The socioeconomic targeting and demographic slicing that are all the rage now in Washington actually have their roots in consumer marketing. And as the commercial niche-ing practices have grown (and grown better), the red/blue divide has become another way for retailers to better understand where to place their ads and their stores. What the data show: Democrats and Republicans not only see the world differently and vote differently, they often shop differently. You can see those differences in the data of Experian Simmons, a consumer research firm that tracks the shopping habits of Democrats and Republicans with a massive survey. The red/blue retail divide is not easy...
November 12, 2012
In politics winning is always the goal, but not all wins are equal. A win built on declining populations and shrinking voter bases, is still a win. But a win based on growing voter bases brings with it hopes of a naturally rising tide of voter support This is the angst behind the comments of many Republicans, who fear their party’s deep deficit with Hispanic voters in 2012 is a very bad sign. They fear falling further behind in a game that is changing before their eyes. So with that in mind, Politics Counts tried to map the battle for growing America. We went through Tuesday’s presidential results by county and compared them to Census figures to see who won the “growth vote” Tuesday. Looking at the numbers that way, results for just growing counties, may bring some solace to the Republican party and its nominee Mitt Romney. Underneath, however, there also appears to be some issue strengths for President Obama and the Democrats in places...
November 6, 2012
As we have often noted here at Patchwork Nation, when you look at national elections at the county level it’s not usually about different types of communities swinging from one party to the other, it’s about changes in margins of support. As Election Day 2012 arrives that appears to be as true as ever. A Patchwork Nation analysis of two new surveys, coming in just before the polls open, finds complete agreement about which presidential candidate is going to win in each of our 12 county/community types. The differences in the numbers, from the Pew Research Center and the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, are in the margins. Some of those differences are big, but the end result of both seems to be the same, an edge to President Barack Obama. To be clear the numbers are not the same. Mr. Obama seems to be in better shape with the Pew figures – nationally he leads in that poll by 3 points and that lead manifests itself in the crucial Monied Burbs in their data. And Mr...
October 30, 2012
As the presidential race has narrowed to become a dead heat, one state in particular has risen to the top of the most important battlegrounds: Ohio. Both campaigns see it as the linchpin to securing 270 electoral votes and both candidates and their surrogates are racking up the frequent flier miles to the Buckeye State. As we have noted in this space before, Ohio is a complicated terrain, with different regions holding different kinds of voters – it is big cities and suburbs, college hubs and small towns. It’s difficult to get a handle on, which is one reason why is always seems to be a battleground. In the last five presidential elections, its vote has gone with the Democratic candidate three times and the Republican twice – and always, with the winner. But when you look closely at the state, there may be five counties that are particularly worth watching: three in the corridor between Cleveland and Toledo (Wood, Ottawa and Sandusky), one in the state...
October 15, 2012
By most every account, Republican nominee Mitt Romney shook up the presidential race last week with a strong showing in the first presidential debate. By early last week, polls from Gallup to Pew seemed to indicate the race had changed.  The question is how much? To help answer that question Patchwork Nation broke down the data inside the most recent Pew Research Center poll using its 12 types of counties to get a sense of where the Romney surge is most visible. Repeating a method of analysis we have used on previous Pew polls. The breakdown, released here in conjunction with American University, shows a big surge in the exurbs for Romney (counties called Boom Towns) and some growth of support in the big cities (counties called the Industrial Metropolis). President Obama, meanwhile, still appears to hold the lead in the crucial suburban counties (counties called the Monied Burbs) and to hold great strength in the counties that are a heavy with college students (counties...
October 15, 2012
Every few years America’s major political parties get very interested in getting people registered to vote – or maybe more accurately, in getting the “right” people registered to vote. It’s a lot easier to come up with a winning hand on Election Day when the deck is stacked in your favor. So, for months now, supporters of President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have been knocking on doors and standing corners trying to register like-minded people. In a close election every vote may count, particularly in the swing states. To get an idea of who’s ahead in the registration game, Politics Counts looked at the tallies in key states where voters register as Democrats or Republicans – Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. We then compared those figures to previous voter registration counts in 2008 and 2004. Who’s winning? That depends on the state you look at and the...
October 10, 2012
Since the beginning of the Great Recession, unemployment has driven much of the national conversation, and with good reason. Even as the stock market has recovered, the struggles of ordinary Americans in the job market continues, with the latest unemployment report showing the jobless rate finally dipping below 8 percent for the first time since early 2009. But what does the unemployment conversation look like? While the national media and campaign rhetoric often boil the issue down to numbers or anecdotes, it is a much broader topic that carries with it a host of different concerns and fears in people — losing one's pension, losing one's home, losing one's future. To get an understanding of just how different those conversations are, the Jefferson Institute analyzed 20 months' worth of blogs, news stories and story comments in communities around the country, focusing on three crucial presidential swing states: Florida, Ohio and Virginia. We combed...
October 5, 2012
Mitt Romney had a good night on Wednesday. Now with a consensus win in the first presidential debate in his back pocket, the GOP presidential nominee is looking to turn around a recent slide he has seen in head-to-head polls against President Barack Obama. Since the party conventions a month ago the race between the two has gone from a dead heat to a three-point lead for Mr. Obama, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls. The president led by the same margin among likely voters in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, released just before the debate. But that margin doesn’t fully capture the challenges Mr. Romney faces. We took those poll numbers and analyzed them geographically using the Patchwork Nation breakdown of 12 county types. And when you do that, you see a much more complicated terrain for the former Massachusetts governor. In Patchwork Nation’s demographic/geographic breakdown of counties, there are three that hold the most...