Monied 'Burbs

January 19, 2012
Nashua, N.H. | When you have been down a long time, as the U.S. economy has been, it's hard to remember what up feels like. That feeling has been compounded by false starts on economic recovery (like last spring) and sudden downturns (like last summer). But there are signs that the economy is indeed stirring to life -- or at least showing signs it is not completely dead -- and if you look closely you can see indications of those returning vital signs in Nashua. Nashua is a Monied Burb in Patchwork Nation, a community with higher-than-average median household incomes and education levels. When we last visited there in September, it was home to a great deal of uncertainty and concern. There were more empty storefronts on Main Street and the troubles in Europe had the investor class in town spooked. But as the New Hampshire primary media cavalcade rode through town last week, the feeling was different. Optimism may be too strong a word, but the pessimism had largely waned...
January 16, 2012
Purpose marketing, cause marketing -- the phrases are among the biggest buzzwords in the advertising industry today, and with good reason. Americans like to support products and companies thay affirm their values. Cause-related spending by marketers is projected to grow 3.1% this year, to $1.7 billion, according to the 2012 Sponsorship Report by IEG Consulting, a Chicago firm that helps brands and organizations find the right sponsorship partners. Add in spending on the arts, festivals and associations, and you're looking at nearly $4 billion in spending -- more than three times what eMarketer projects will be spent on mobile advertising. But not all causes are equal in the eyes of consumers. Some communities are concerned about saving the local theater, while others care about protecting the local watershed. With that in mind, Experian Simmons created a baseline for charitable contributions nationally and looked at how each of the Patchwork Nation county types...
January 13, 2012
Two votes into the Republican presidential primary season, Mitt Romney can claim two important titles. First, and most obviously, he won both contests – the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. But second, and perhaps more important, he has laid claim to being the GOP candidate who resonates most with wealthy suburban communities. That's good for him, but it may be becoming challenging. The former Massachusetts governor won the vote coming out of those counties in both Iowa and New Hampshire – counties called the Monied Burbs in Patchwork Nation’s demographic/geographic breakdown. He took 43% of the vote in New Hampshire’s Monied Burbs on Tuesday, four percentage points better than what he did statewide. That’s significant because nationwide those 286 counties hold 69 million people and the vote in them tends to swing between Democrats and Republicans. They often decide who wins the presidency: In 2008, President Barack Obama won them...
January 11, 2012
Mitt Romney had a lot of advantages going into New Hampshire – from residency to voter demographics – and in the end it all showed up on Tuesday night. It was an impressive win. The former Massachusetts governor won nine of the state’s 10 counties. He won a larger percentage of the vote than he or Sen. John McCain won in 2008 – 39 percent to 37 percent for McCain. And using Patchwork Nation’s demographic/geographic breakdown of counties, he won in all of the state’s county types from the wealthy Monied Burbs to the small town Service Worker Centers. The meaning for the nominating process has already been hashed over and over. In winning both the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary, Romney has pulled off a trick no non-incumbent GOP presidential candidate has even done. He looks well-prepared for the votes to come down the road in South Carolina and Florida this month and probably for the nomination. But the potentially bigger message...
January 10, 2012
If you were devising a state where GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney could do well in a vote, it would probably look a lot like New Hampshire. Romney was the governor of Massachusetts, which sits next door. He has a home in New Hampshire. And, from the perspective of Patchwork Nation’s geographic/demographic breakdown of counties, the Granite State offers excellent electoral terrain. As we noted last week after the Iowa Caucuses, Romney seems to be emerging as the GOP candidate of the wealthy, largely suburban Monied Burbs. In fact, in Iowa the only county type where Romney did better in 2012 than he did in 2008 were the state’s Monied Burbs. And the overwhelming majority of people in New Hampshire – some 61 percent – live in Monied Burb counties, in beige on the map below. Bearing all those advantages in mind, Romney’s strong poll numbers in New Hampshire is not surprising, though recent days have shown his lead in shrinking. Even if...
January 7, 2012
This was a good week to be Mitt Romney. Not only did he eke out an eight-vote win in the first nominating contest of the year – the Iowa caucuses – but afterward he got to go home. The former Massachusetts governor has an estate in New Hampshire, where Tuesday’s primary vote will be held. At this point winning New Hampshire almost looks like a formality for Mr. Romney.  Polls currently show him sitting with about 40% support there and, as we have noted in this space before, Patchwork Nation’s geographic/demographic breakdown shows the state’s electoral terrain is made for him. Only four of Patchwork Nation’s 12 county types are represented there – the Monied Burbs, Boom Towns, Campus and Careers and small town Service Worker Centers counties — and Mr. Romney won three of those four in Iowa, all except the Service Worker Centers. With all those Romney advantages in place, what exactly is there to look for in Tuesday...
January 4, 2012
Everyone will talk about who won in Iowa, they always do. But the real story out of the state is the sharp divide in the vote – and one that might be expected. We wrote earlier that the most likely result out of Iowa was going to be a complicated mess with several candidates able to claim a good night. And when the votes were counted, that’s what we had. But look closer at the numbers using Patchwork Nation’s geographic/demographic breakdowns and you see a clear divide in the vote on the map. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won in the state’s wealthier more urban counties – the wealthy Monied Burbs, exurban Boom Towns and collegiate Campus and Career locales. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum won all the other county types including the agricultural Tractor Country, culturally conservative Evangelical Epicenters and aging Emptying Nests. And Texas Congressman Ron Paul, with the help of independent voters, stoked some populist anger...
January 2, 2012
On Tuesday evening, when Iowa Republican caucus voters gather in classrooms and halls across the state, the name most critical to understanding the outcome won’t be among the candidates: Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor. Four years ago, Mr. Huckabee won the caucuses in something of a surprise – former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had invested a lot of time and money in the state. And while the power of the Christian Right is often cited as the force behind Mr. Huckabee’s victory, that’s only half the story. Look at the 2008 caucus results mapped and analyzed through Patchwork Nation, our demographic/geographic breakdown of counties, and a few points become clear. First, Mr. Huckabee’s win was broad-based. He won 74 of Iowa’s 99 counties, including those that hold Des Moines, the most populous city in the state. Using Patchwork Nation’s county types as a measure, he won in a range of places, from the wealthy Monied Burbs...
December 27, 2011
Barack Obama has not had an easy ride as president. He took office as the economy was collapsing on many fronts -- spikes in home foreclosures and unemployment -- and the tone of the political debate, which was already harsh, has only grown more contentious. His approval rating plummeted. And yet going into 2012, the president is not in a bad place electorally. Polls show he's essentially running even with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, one potential re-election rival, in head-to-head match-ups and doing much better against the rest of the GOP field. And as the calendar gets ready to flip over into the political hot season, Patchwork Nation sees the president actually doing well in the counties that matter most, according to an analysis of Pew Research Center polls from August to December. The percentage of voters approving of his performance sits above the percentage disapproving in four of Patchwork Nation's geographic/demographic breakdown of 12 county types...
December 19, 2011
Going into 2012, the biggest shift in the electorate may be its feelings about who is best suited to handle the challenges of the economy. Back in 2008, the Democratic Party was not only the choice on the poll question “which party would do a better job” with the economy, it was the choice by a wide margin. Urban, suburban and rural, young and old, rich and poor, geographic and demographic groups of all stripes chose the Democrats. The picture is very different on the eve of the 2012 primary season, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. Republicans best Democrats on that same question with some very important voting blocs, including the elderly, the wealthy, middle income voters, white working class voters and suburbanites. The Democratic Party’s fall since 2008 has been sharp: a 15 percentage point drop among  18- to 34-year-olds and those 65 and older, a 12-point drop among those who make more than $75,000 a year, an 11-point slide...