Monied 'Burbs

May 11, 2012
Much has been made of the political implications of President Barack Obama’s announcement this week that he personally supports gay marriage. The news had hardly broken in Washington before conversations quickly turned to what it means for the 2012 election. Some tea-party conservatives seemed sure it would cost him the re-election. Some analysts saw a fundraising boon and a way to fire up his base. Others said it would fire up his opponents. But as commentators debate the impacts of Mr. Obama’s words, a few things are clear. Polls show a growing acceptance of gay marriage in the U.S. And Census data show the number of same-sex households is a growing across the nation. Look at the two maps below derived from an analysis of Census 2010 data by Gary J. Gates of UCLA’s Williams Institute. The top shows the number of same-sex households in the U.S. by county in 2000. The bottom shows those households in 2010. For the rest of this week's Politics...
May 9, 2012
What's the significance of President Obama's evolution on gay marriage? In terms of policy, probably not much. He made clear in his interview with ABC News that he still considers the issue one for the states to resolve. But in an election year, the political impact could be much bigger. Across the 12 county types in Patchwork Nation, there are very different reactions to the issue. As we've noted in more in-depth reporting, some county types -- the wealthy Monied 'Burbs, collegiate Campus and Careers, and big city Industrial Metropolis -- believe by wide margins that homosexuality as a lifestyle should be accepted by society. Others - like the culturally conservative Evangelical Epicenters, Mormon Outposts and African American heavy Minority Central counties -- feel strongly that it should be discouraged. A recent Pew Research Center poll broken into Patchwork Nation's 12 county types offers some clues about what Obama's announcement could mean on...
May 2, 2012
With six months to go until Election Day, the 2012 presidential contest is only now beginning to take shape. In the coming days the campaigns of President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney will ramp up in the fight to sway voters. Judging by the looks of a recent Pew Research Center poll analyzed through the Patchwork Nation geographic and demographic breakdown of counties, Romney has some work ahead of him. Unseating an incumbent president, even in hard economic times, is not an easy task. And both the Pew Research Center and Patchwork Nation numbers show Romney has challenges at both ends of the income spectrum, as well as in urban and more rural areas. There is still a very long way to go in the race. For many voters, the election season hasn't really started. But if May marks the beginning of a more focused phase of the campaign, the Romney team has different sets of voters it needs to win over. They exist in different places and...
April 24, 2012
The 2012 election is going to be about the economy. We've heard that for the last year as analysts have diagnosed this campaign. The fate of the presidential race has rarely been seen as being so directly tied to a set of economic indicators from the Dow Jones to the unemployment rate. And yet, as the general election begins in earnest, the amount of actual economic talk coming from the two contenders is light. Oh, there has been talk loosely around the economy. There has been chatter about whether stay-at-home mothers are qualified to talk about it. There's been discussion of how "freedom" is what will fix it. And there's been talk of making sure rich people should kick in more to help it. But so far, there has been precious little talk about actually fixing the economy in terms of specific ideas and plans. That may seem surprising, but it's not a complete shock. In fact, Patchwork Nation wonders how much economic solutions will figure into the...
April 20, 2012
One of the meta-themes of the 2012 campaign, or at least the early stages of it, has been Mitt Romney’s problem reaching women voters. In many polls, the gender gap looks more like a gender chasm for the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC survey seems to be just the latest bit of evidence of Mr. Romney’s “woman problem” – it shows a 12-point deficit with the female voters in a head-to-head matchup with President Barack Obama. But look closer and a different divide emerges, a more complicated one around marriage. In that same poll Mr. Romney wins with married voters, even married women – he carries them by 3 percentage points 49% to 46%. He does better with married men, winning them by 13 percentage points, 52% to 39%. But when the lens shifts to unmarried voters, the score changes dramatically. Mr. Romney trails Mr. Obama by an astounding 36 percentage points among women who aren’t married...
April 16, 2012
From the beginning of the 2102 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney has been something of a tough fit for Republican primary and caucus voters. His resume, which includes serving as Massachusetts governor when that state passed its health care reform plan, is arguably better suited for a general election candidate. Indeed, that thinking has long been at the heart of the Romney campaign’s “electability” argument.  Mr. Romney may not be the ideal candidate for conservative Republicans, but come the fall, conservatives will fall in line behind the GOP nominee. The party’s challenge will be winning moderate suburban voters – a voting bloc he seems well-positioned to capture. And with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum exiting the race this week, the Romney team can now focus on what should be friendlier turf: the general election and those moderate suburbanites. But just how strong is Mr. Romney in the swing-voting suburbs? That’s not...
April 9, 2012
The Obama administration’s health-care overhaul law has been front-and-center in the news this week as the Supreme Court debated its constitutionality – and to some extent its role in the 2012 campaign. Much of the debate emphasized the law’s broad impact. Anyone who tuned into the coverage probably heard that health-care spending represents about 16% of national GDP. But even though health care has huge effects on the economy and on the American people as a whole, those effects vary greatly from place to place. Nationally, the number of uninsured Americans has grown markedly in recent years and that spike has deepened a crisis for some communities. For others, however, those increased health-care challenges are not terribly noticeable. Those differences become much clearer when you look at the uninsured on a map and particularly when you use Patchwork Nation’s geographic/demographic breakdown of 12 types of counties. There are clear state...
April 4, 2012
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum sounded defiant as ever in his speech Tuesday night, but after a sweep by Mitt Romney in contests in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin, the writing on the wall looks like it's been done in permanent marker. It isn't just that the former Massachusetts governor won in all three votes convincingly, it's that he did well in so many different kinds of place in Patchwork Nation's geographic/demographic county breakdown. We had noted Tuesday morning that Wisconsin, in particular, was a test. Could Romney win in the less-wealthy small-town territories that had been good for Santorum, particularly the Service Worker Centers and Emptying Nests? He didn't, but he ate into Santorum's margin in those places. In Illinois, Santorum beat Romney by nine percentage points in each of those types of counties. Tuesday night, things were much closer: three percentage points in the Emptying Nests and only two percentage points in...
March 23, 2012
The Republican race for the nomination this week began to look like plodding jog to the finish line for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Another win in Illinois on Tuesday, and the delegates that went with it, indicated that Mr. Romney is on an all-but-inevitable path to become the 2012 GOP presidential nominee. Now the path gets trickier. The game isn’t over yet, of course. Gaffes and changing primary terrain will likely drag things out for more weeks, maybe months. But now that Mr. Romney seems to have a good grip on his prize, we can begin to assess the impact of the longer-than-anticipated nomination battle. What effect did three months of campaigning and carping against his fellow Republican hopefuls have on Mr. Romney? It’s left him with some challenges as the conversation turns to the general election as several polls have noted, but he’s made some gains as well. A look at Wall Street Journal/NBC polls taken during the primary process –...
March 21, 2012
Mitt Romney won big in Illinois -- double digits. He claimed the breakout victory many analysts thought he needed and he urged Republican voters to come on board for his nomination. "Each day we move closer not just to victory but to a better America," the former Massachusetts governor told the crowd. "Join us!" A 12-point win is always nice, and the delegates Romney collected Tuesday night add to his already impressive margin, but as impressive as the numbers looked, in reality his Illinois triumph was something of an "ehh" moment. As we noted Tuesday, Illinois may look diverse on a map (10 of Patchwork Nation's 12 county types are present in the state), but when you look at the population counts, the state was made for Romney. Some 81 percent of the state's population lives in the four county types that have been the best for Romney in the nominating contests: the Industrial Metropolises, Monied Burbs, Boom Towns, and Campus and Careers...