Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Boom America, Bust America 

A fascinating report from the "LA Times" (hat tip: again, James Taranto's Best of the Web), to be read in conjunction with our recent debates about the city-country voting divide:

"The center of the Republican presidential coalition is moving toward the distant edges of suburbia.

"In this month's election, President Bush carried 97 of the nation's 100 fastest-growing counties, most of them 'exurban' communities that are rapidly transforming farmland into subdivisions and shopping malls on the periphery of major metropolitan areas.

"Together, these fast-growing communities provided Bush a punishing 1.72 million vote advantage over Democrat John F. Kerry."
In line with the anecdotal conclusions of our demographic debate,

"These growing areas, filled largely with younger families fleeing urban centers in search of affordable homes, are providing the GOP a foothold in blue Democratic-leaning states and solidifying the party's control over red Republican-leaning states...

"These are places defined more by aspiration than accumulation, filled more with families starting out than with those that have already reached their earnings peak."
And their electoral impact only keeps growing:

"Bush's edge in these 100 counties was almost four times greater than the advantage they provided Bob Dole, the Republican presidential nominee eight years ago... Bush took 70% or more of the vote in 40 of them, and 60% or more in 70 of them. In all, Bush won 63% of the votes cast in these 100 counties. That broad appeal, combined with the rapid population growth, allowed Bush to generate much greater advantages from these counties than he did four years ago. In 2000, Bush won 94 of the counties, but they provided him a smaller cumulative advantage of 1.06 million votes."
This phenomenon is not restricted to the United States; it is present in Australia, too, albeit not on such a scale. The debate down here still rages about the electoral impact of the so called "aspirational voters", the middle class families in outer suburbs with large mortgages and aspirations to do better for themselves and their children. For the past few elections they tended to favor the current centre-right government of John Howard. How it will all play out in the long term is an interesting question, particularly considering other demographic trends, such as the decline in the number of two-parent families with children and the rise in the number of single parent households and childless couples.

In another article of interest, the columnist Lexington of the
"Economist" points to some other data of interest:

"Most of Mr Kerry's base was in stagnant America. Democratic strongholds such as Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco and Mr Kerry's Boston have been losing people and jobs.

"Mr Bush's America, for the most part, is booming. This is not just because the red states that voted for Mr Bush are growing faster than the blue states that voted for Mr Kerry. It is also because Mr Bush did well in the fast-growing suburbs and 'exurbs' in both red and blue states. Mr Bush's triumph in greater Phoenix, greater Houston and greater Atlanta was perhaps predictable. But... he also triumphed in... the 'third California': the vast inland region that is producing the bulk of the state's growth at the moment...

"The Democratic Party is ceasing to be a mom-and-pop party. Phillip Longman of the New America Foundation points out that the fertility rate in the Kerry states is 12% lower than in the Bush states. Vermont, the home of Howard Dean and perhaps the most left-wing state in the country, produces an annual average of 49 children for every 1,000 women of child-bearing age; in Utah, where 71% of the population voted for Mr Bush, the figure is 91. In deep-blue cities such as San Francisco and Seattle you find more dogs than children."
By the way, the original material about the booming America/stagnant America divide comes from research by Joel Kotkin, which makes for some fascinating reading.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?