In the News

January 20, 2011
In terms of keeping promises, Wednesday's vote to repeal the health reform law stands as a significant checkmark on the House Republican agenda, but what does it mean outside of Washington? Maybe not as much as GOP leaders hope. The overwhelming number of 12 Patchwork Nation community types are not especially interested in repealing the new law, according to an analysis of a new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Only two county types -- the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-adherent heavy Mormon Outposts and the socially conservative Evangelical Epicenters -- are close to or above 50 percent in the number of people who say they want the law repealed. In the other 10 county types with a wide range of demographic and voter makeups, solid majorities say they would like to see the health care law expanded or left alone. Does that mean the repeal vote, certain to be ignored by the Democratic Senate, was a waste of time for the House...
January 19, 2011
PHILADELPHIA | High atop the city hall the statue of William Penn looks down on this city and sees a city that stands as a symbol of the hopes and challenges faced in America's big industrial cities - in counties Patchwork Nation calls the Industrial Metropolis. As 2011 dawns in Philadelphia, City Hall arguably finds itself in the best economic condition it has seen in years. After facing billion-dollar shortfalls, the city budget is reportedly on the path to being balanced this year - perhaps even with a small surplus. A series of painful tax increases and spending cuts have removed the red ink from the city budget leaving Mayor Michael Nutter with a major accomplishment to trumpet in a reelection year. Nutter seems to have rebounded in the eyes of population here now appears headed toward an unopposed fall campaign. But lest anyone get too comfortable, a list of problems lay waiting in the City of Brotherly Love. There are the city schools, run by a separate state-...
January 7, 2011
On Thursday, as their first act, members of the new Republican-led House read the U.S. Constitution aloud. The reading was not about civics - one would assume lawmakers have the basics down by now - it was a sign to the Tea Party groups around the U.S. that the Republicans heard them. As the new GOP House works its way into the term the Tea Party organizations loom large. "As you get down to work, there are a few things to remember," Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation wrote in an open letter to new House Speaker John Boehner. "You became Speaker because America, led by the Tea Party, repudiated Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and the party of socialism." That is clearly one interpretation of the midterms of November, but judging from a recent poll broken into our 12 Patchwork Nation county types it may be overstating the impact of the groups. A December poll from the Pew Center for the People and the Press finds Americans are, at best, largely...
December 7, 2010
As the debate over extending the Bush-era tax cuts plays out in Washington, an important element is being left out of the debate - geography. This tax cut debate has a similar sound to others in Congress. Republicans back extending the cuts for everyone, including those making over $1 million because "a rising tide raises all boats" and "wealthy people create jobs." Democrats argue the breaks should go just for "middle class families" and "the poor," because those groups tend to spend the money and they need it. And all of this, of course, is set against the backdrop of a ballooning deficit where the federal government simply has less to spend. But lost in all those talking points is where the money actually goes. Patchwork Nation sees wide disparities in where the wealthy live by county, and in our 12 county types, and those disparities show how the tax cut extension for all may miss the mark when it comes to getting past the...
November 5, 2010
As the Democrats sort through the wreckage of Tuesday night, the question "what just happened?" is undoubtedly running through their minds. Was it Tea Party enthusiasm that buried them or anger at the economy or a loss of faith in President Obama? Or maybe all those things. An analysis of the results through Patchwork Nation's breakdown of nine different types of congressional districts offers some answers. More than half of the GOP pickups in the House came in just two district types: the 56 Booming Growth districts and the 52 Christian Conservative districts. The Republicans captured 31 seats in those districts so far -- not all results are final yet. That's an impressive set of gains. But looking at them closely reveals how dangerous it can be to ascribe a large broad meaning to a national election that is essentially "about" different things in different places. Knowing what Patchwork Nation knows about these districts -- their demographic...
November 3, 2010
With the GOP's winning of the House assured and the Senate out of its reach, the surface meaning of Tuesday night is pretty clear. Without significant reaching across the aisle, very little will get done in the next few years. But Election Day and Night 2010 belonged to the GOP. The Republicans picked up scores of House seats - at least 60 at this writing - and several in the Senate. And the three House races Patchwork Nation was watching, all Democratic incumbents – Indiana’s 9th, Ohio’s 16th and Michigan’s 7th – all fell to the GOP. In each case the issue on table broke for the Republicans. In Indiana’s 9th district, all indications are that the youth vote in Monroe County, home of Indiana University, did not materialize for incumbent Baron Hill. The campus paper on Election Day offered only tepid support in its editorial: (Reluctantly) Baron Hill for Congress. And many students either felt the same way or didn’t vote. The rest...
November 2, 2010
Tonight Patchwork Nation will be partnering with two well-respected media outlets to cover the midterm results live – The PBS NewsHour and WNYC in New York. The NewsHour will feature an interactive Patchwork Nation map of the nation that will feature live results for each congressional, senate and gubernatorial race. But that map willalso go further offering users the chance to dig into issues like foreclosures, immigrant population and tea party “meetups” on a district-by-district basis. WNYC radio will offer and interactive map that focuses intently on New York state, county-by-county for all the major races in the Empire State – governor, both senate races, attorney general and comptroller. Users will also be able to watch a tally of the votes in the state by Patchwork Nation county type as the results come in. Patchwork Nation Project Director Dante Chinni will be offering his own live and ongoing analysis as the results come in tonight through...
October 28, 2010
If much of the electorate is driven by anger, much of that anger is driven by foreclosures. As Patchwork Nation has measured the number of tea party "meetups" in the last four months, one type of congressional district has stood out - those that have witnessed great population growth in the last decade, the districts we call Booming Growth. Looking at foreclosures since January, it is precisely those districts that have faced the toughest times. There are 38 foreclosures for every 1,000 homes in those places. And remember, those figures are just the beginning. They equal lost home values that prevent moving for some, and lost nest eggs that mean delayed retirement for others. A map of foreclosures by congressional district is on the Patchwork Nation homepage. In short, many in these districts are angry because there is a lot to be angry about. And these 56 districts, which are pretty evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, are likely to make an anti-incumbent...
October 20, 2010
By Sara Johnson If Facebook’s got anything to do with it, the Republicans will take the House this November. The Republican candidates in the House’s most competitive races tend to be more popular on the social media websites Facebook and Twitter than their Democratic counterparts, suggesting a possible lead in their quest to take over the House majority this November. Republican house candidates are twice as popular as Democrats in the Cook Political Report Oct. 11 toss-up house races, which are the most competitive. If social media popularity indicates voter behavior, the Republicans will take 30 of the 40 toss-up races — making it likely they would take the House majority as well. A recent survey, conducted by HeadCount, found that Senate Republicans are five times more popular that Democrats on the social media websites Facebook and Twitter. HeadCount is a nonpartisan voter-registration organization that focuses on young people. Sean Duffy, the...
September 3, 2010
What the military giveth, the military can taketh away. It's not a happy lesson, but it is one that many Military Bastions, counties around armed services installations, have learned in the recent years through rounds of base closings. And it is a lesson that the 16-county region in southern Virginia known as Hampton Roads is confronting now. The economy in Hampton Roads is diverse, pushed by multiple drivers including trade at the area's massive ports and tourism on its beaches, but always underpinning it all has been a steady and substantial military presence. Four of the 16 counties in the region fall into Patchwork Nation's Military Bastion category - including Norfolk, home to the Navy's Second Fleet. Now all of that is being thrown in the air after a string of announcements from the Pentagon that appear to point to a scaling down of much of the area's military presence. Since January, the region has been hearing about how it might lose one its...