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April 2014, Volume 20, Number 2

Rural America

The Wall Street Journal reported on March 21, 2014 that 75 percent of rural Americans are represented by Republicans in the House of Representatives, while the 80 percent of Americans who live in urban areas have about half Democratic and half Republican representatives.

The change from Democratic to Republican representation of rural America occurred after the mid-1990s. In 1993, over half of rural Americans were represented by Democrats in the House. In 2012, Mitt Romney's margin of victory in the 50 least-dense US counties was over 50 points, much higher than George Bush's almost 20-point margin of victory in 1992.

Some political analysts say that the driving forces in politics are culture and lifestyle, not policy differences. Rural residents are more likely to go to church and to hunt, and many hold fewer middle-class jobs in areas with declining populations. One analysis found that President Obama in 2012 won the popular vote in 77 percent of US counties with a Whole Foods store, but won in only 29 percent of counties with a Cracker Barrel restaurant.

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