Monied 'Burbs

January 22, 2013
By most any measure President Barack Obama’s second-term inauguration on Monday will be different from the first. It will be smaller and less rousing. And like most every incumbent, he’ll be facing a much more skeptical electorate. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows a big dip in the number of voters who feel optimistic about how Mr. Obama will do in his second term compared to how voters felt four years ago about his first term. Only 51% of those surveyed are “optimistic or satisfied” that “he will do a good job,” down from a remarkable 66% in January of 2009. But the feelings are far from uniform. While the bloom is off the rose for Mr. Obama with some people and places, others are feeling pretty good about four more years. There’s a clear split along racial lines. Less than half of white Americans, 48%, say they feel good about a second Obama term. In 2009 60% of whites were optimistic. Meanwhile, nearly nine in 10...
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...
January 4, 2013
Call it the cliff twist: Lawmakers representing areas most likely to get hit by the fiscal-cliff bill’s higher taxes were also more likely to vote it. The fiscal cliff bill — which raises income taxes on households making  over $450,000  a year — passed because of support from House members representing some of the wealthiest congressional districts in the country. Viewed the other way, lawmakers from less wealthy districts — the ones less likely to see a big tax hit — were the ones most opposed to the bill. On average, the “aye” votes on the bill came from districts where 4.7% of the households earned $200,000 or more. In the districts that voted “nay,” 3.6% of the households were in that rarified income group. (The U.S. median household income is around $50,000.) And it’s important to note that those divisions held up even when one breaks the vote down by Democratic and Republican districts. In the...
December 19, 2012
The Republican Party’s “Hispanic problem” is common knowledge to anyone who has looked at the presidential election results. It’s become a crucial part of the 2012 narrative. But despite all the ink, airtime and pixels given to the topic since Election Day, you can’t fully appreciate the depths of the problem until you match those results up against Hispanic population growth patterns. The impact of the GOP’s Hispanic gap could be bigger than many realize. The size of the Republicans’ challenge becomes clear when the growth in the nation’s Hispanic population through Patchwork Nation’s 12 county types. The Hispanic population had been growing across the board, but the increases in some county types in particular – the Immigration Nation counties, Monied Burbs and Boom Towns – look to have far-reaching impacts. The Only Places Obama Did Better It was always going to be difficult for President Obama to...
December 14, 2012
Friday’s mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut – 27 dead at an elementary school, including 20 children (at this writing) – will almost certainly reignite the debate about gun control in America. It was the second such event in the United States in since this summer and the shootings in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado that left 12 dead. But sudden movement on gun control may not be likely. In the wake of the Colorado tragedy, Patchwork Nation noted that gun control was unlikely to gain traction in the presidential campaign because of the ambivalence toward the issue in the electorate. Even in the influential and heavily-populated Monied Burb counties, the voters were essentially split, slightly favoring “gun freedom,” according to an April Pew Research poll. Here’s an excerpt of that post and the numbers by county type: In April, the Pew Research Center in a poll asked which was more important, "to protect the right of Americans...
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 14, 2012
Of all the big winners on Election Day, one of the biggest may have been a concept: the gender gap in American politics. From President Barack Obama's 11-point edge with women over Mitt Romney in exit polls to Republicans losing two senate seats over troubling statements about rape, 2012 seemed to further the idea that gender is the leading definer of Democratic voters: double x marks the spot. But lumping more than 50 percent of the population into a group and talking about it as a single unit can oversimplify things a lot. Go deeper into the 2012 exit poll numbers to look at the women's vote and picture begins to change. To be clear, the gender gap in America is not a myth—the numbers show it's real—but it's also very complicated. It can grow or shrink depending on a host of factors: race, age, marital status, even geography. Let's start with one of the biggest story lines of 2012: that the gender gap was an epic problem for Romney and the...
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 7, 2012
Elections produce many things, from balloon drops to new elected officials, but they also produce mountains of data. Analysts will spend weeks going through the 2012 results and exit polls pulling out bits and strands of numbers that explain what this state or that county did. Those facts and indicators will be what future campaigns are made of. But a quick rundown of the 2012 numbers reveals a few big trends of particularly significant note. They are important not only because of what they say about what happened on Tuesday, but also about what they say about the elections to come. And they exist at some important hinge points in American society: race and ethnicity, income and education and the urban/rural divide. Race and Ethnicity Through the most basic prism, political analysts had a very good sense of how the election was going to break last night simply by looking at who voted. Before the big states were decided the exit polls showed the national electorate was...