Monied 'Burbs

February 25, 2012
Was the federal government’s 2009 auto industry aid a bailout or a lifeboat? That may depend on where you live. No one likes the idea that the federal government pumped billions into General Motors and Chrysler, but if you live in, say, the Great Lakes region, you probably see the issue a bit differently than they do elsewhere. How differently? We’re going to get an early peek at that question on Tuesday in Michigan’s Republican presidential primary. The auto bailout could complicate Michigan’s electoral terrain for the GOP. Both of the current Republican front-runners, former MassachusettsGov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, have said they opposed it. And while that would seem to make the issue a wash in Michigan, that’s not the whole story. The big news Tuesday night, of course, will be who emerges from the contests in Michigan and Arizona with the momentum. The see-saw nominating campaign has been the story in nearly...
February 24, 2012
Sometimes it's the small indicators that carry the most economic significance. For months now the unemployment rate and consumer spending numbers have shown signs of a slowly improving economy. The Dow Jones broke 13,000 for the first time in four years on Tuesday. But after false starts in the past, such last spring, there is still hesitation for anyone to claim a full economic turnout is coming. But as Patchwork Nation travels the country during campaign season visiting communities we have watched for four years in some cases, a clear trend is developing. This time small, quiet changes are also evident at the local level. In January we reported from Nashua, N.H., a Monied 'Burb in Patchwork Nation, that the economy there seemed to be coming to life at the ground level as evidenced by a series of small community-wide indicators. And on our last trip to Clermont, Fla., an Emptying Nest, we saw and heard similar small bits of good news, though with different indicators...
February 17, 2012
Among the many forces that go into shaping a campaign – from speeches to advertisements – late-night comedy has earned a special place. It’s where narratives about candidates can be created and grow free of the constraints of regular journalism, for better or worse. On late-night TV a candidate can be branded and rebranded as a flip-flopper or stiff (see Sen. John Kerry in 2004) or reckless and foolish (frequently part of the jabs at former President George W. Bush). But not all late-night shows are the same. For some, politics is more than just the stuff of monologue one-liners; it’s a critical element to the program. Take, for instance, the late-night shows on Comedy Central, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. They thrive on politics. And when you look at who watches those shows through Patchwork Nation’s demographic/geographic county breakdown an interesting pattern emerges. Both shows do well in places where the vote is...
February 15, 2012
It may be that Mitt Romney's problem, his falling numbers since last week in state and national polls, is his base. Nine states into the Republican presidential nominating contests, a very clear pattern emerges in Patchwork Nation's demographic/geographic breakdown of counties. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is relying heavily on wealthy suburban counties - counties we call the Monied 'Burbs - to win states. The Republican presidential nominating calendar has moved through 43 Monied 'Burb counties so far, and Romney has won 21 of them. That's even though former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has won far more counties overall thanks to his Feb. 7 gains. That's not a surprise to Patchwork Nation. We have noted since fall that Romney's base was the 'Burbs. It has been his biggest donation support base. Winning in the 'Burbs can be a very good thing for a politician. Those counties hold large numbers of swing voters that...
February 6, 2012
With January in the books, the GOP nominating contest sits where many thought it would be — including Politics Counts. Two wins for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and two wins for conservative alternatives to him – former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in Iowa and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in South Carolina. Mr. Romney’s got the delegate lead, the front-runner status and the momentum, but judging by all the movement of the past six months it’s hard  to tell what that means. The campaign now enters what many are describing as an interstitial period between the exciting early contests and the jam-packed primary calendar of March. But seven states hold nominating contests in February (Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Maine, Arizona and Michigan) and they should not be ignored. Six of them will have convention delegates up for grabs. The vote from them will show us a lot about what the Republican field will look like come March 6,...
February 1, 2012
With a dominating win in Florida, the Romney campaign moves forward with a nice push of momentum into February. And now, well, who knows? The one certainty of the 2012 presidential campaign thus far is its uncertainty. It wasn’t long ago when we were talking about former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s dominating win in South Carolina and, before that, the possibility that Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, could be looking at a January sweep. But few things seem clear out of the Florida results. Romney has again reestablished himself as the front-runner for now. And, maybe more important, he has reestablished himself as the candidates of the wealthier swing-voting communities – counties that Patchwork Nation calls the Monied Burbs. Romney won six of Florida’s seven Monied Burbs and 49% of the vote in them overall. (You can see the results analyzed through Patchwork Nation’s 12 county types here.) As we have noted in the past, those places...
January 31, 2012
The game of presidential see-saw the GOP has been playing in 2012 continues Tuesday night in Florida. A short 10 days ago former House speaker Newt Gingrich emerged from the South Carolina Primary with a big win and lot of momentum. It looks like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is ready to take the momentum back. Many polls show him with a double-digit lead in the Sunshine State. Florida is considered a critical contest because of the state's size and diversity. More people will vote Tuesday night than have voted in all the Republican nominating contests thus far combined. And nearly all of Patchwork Nation's geographic/demographic county types -- 10 of the 12 -- are represented in the peninsula. But regardless of who wins the state, there are some key components in the vote to keep an eye on. (You can follow the vote live through the Patchwork Nation county-types on WNYC's website here.) WHERE ARE THE BASES OF SUPPORT? In many ways, Romney's lead in...
January 27, 2012
In every presidential primary season we eventually reach a vote that is portrayed as must-win for the top candidates, the showdown. This year that vote is Tuesday’s Florida Primary. Florida is being framed as the place where we will discover whether former House Speaker Newt Gingrich can win a big, diverse state with a closed primary giving him incredible momentum going forward. Or, conversely, whether former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney simply stumbled in very conservative South Carolina and, upon reflection, Republican voters are reaffirming his front-runner status. Those are dramatic storylines to be sure. Who doesn’t like sudden-death politics? But look closer at the state and the path ahead and Florida doesn’t really look like a must-win – particularly for Mr. Romney. Rather it is about key counties in the state, mostly places that Patchwork Nation’s demographic/geographic breakdown calls the Monied Burbs and the Boom Towns. What...
January 23, 2012
Just like that, the Republican presidential race feels changed. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich didn’t just win in South Carolina, he won everywhere across the state. Looking at the results through Patchwork Nation’s demographic/geographic breakdown, Mr. Gingrich could not have done much better. There are five county types in South Carolina and Mr. Gingrich won them all – the wealthy Monied Burbs, the culturally conservative Evangelical Epicenters, the Military Bastions with many soldiers and veterans, the Boom Towns that grew rapidly in the last decade and the Minority Central counties with larger African-American populations. This map from WNYC shows how the vote went county-by-county in South Carolina using Patchwork Nation’s county types. In some ways, the numbers aren’t a shock. Going into the vote, most analysts talked about how different South Carolina is from New Hampshire where former...
January 21, 2012
First it was Bain. Then it was releasing income tax returns. Then came the Cayman Islands. The conversation about Mitt Romney has turned in recent weeks and settled into what could be an uncomfortable spot for the former Massachusetts governor. The questions focus on his wealth and how he has managed it. Mr. Romney, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, was bound to be tested – every front-runner is. Opponents have dug into his record as a politician to determine whether he is conservative enough for the party. They have criticized him for flip-flopping on issues. But these new talking points on Mr. Romney are something different because they go beyond politics and policy. They strike at Mr. Romney’s everyman-ness, that question every politician ultimately faces about whether he is like “you and me.” And, when you look at the numbers – votes and exit polls in Iowa and New Hampshire – they feed into a narrative that seems easy...