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Rural-Urban Gaps in Voting: Analyzing Presidential Voting Patterns, 1888-2004
Unformatted Document Text:  Rural-Urban Gaps in Voting: Analyzing Presidential Voting Patterns, 1888-2004 Abstract: Recent presidential elections have highlighted a growing divide within the American electorate between rural and urban voters. The 2004 Presidential Election returns demonstrated that the gap today is at one of its most extreme points in political history. However, the divide between rural and urban voters has varied over time, as has the political leanings of both groups. In this paper, I provide a historical review of voting behavior in presidential elections, and consider not only rural and urban voting, but also regional voting, examining both Southern and Northern voting patterns. I find that the urban rural gap is in fact a contemporary phenomenon. Introduction When voters went to the polls in November of 2008, there were a lot of questions as to which groups of people would come out in support of which candidate. Would evangelicals vote in large numbers for John McCain or simply stay home? Would the youth vote turn out as their pre-election polling numbers suggested, voting overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, or would their bark be bigger than their bite as history would suggest? One division in the voting electorate that was not discussed as much was what choice urban and rural voters would make on Election Day. These two groups were mostly left out of the discussion because their election decisions were a foregone conclusion to many before their choice was made; the urban voters would vote for Obama in large numbers, while the rural voters would come out in support for McCain. And, as post election numbers have shown, these predictions held true for the most part: Obama came out 13 million votes ahead of McCain in urban counties, while McCain garnered almost 3 million more votes in rural America that his Democratic counterpart (Murphy and Bishop 2008). As the numbers show in the 2008 election, as well as in the most recent previous elections, there is a persistent and gaping divide between the urban and rural electorate,

Authors: Karnes, Kimberly.
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Rural-Urban Gaps in Voting: Analyzing Presidential Voting Patterns, 1888-2004
Abstract:  Recent presidential elections have highlighted a growing divide within the 
American electorate between rural and urban voters.  The 2004 Presidential Election 
returns demonstrated that the gap today is at one of its most extreme points in political 
history.  However, the divide between rural and urban voters has varied over time, as has 
the political leanings of both groups.  In this paper, I provide a historical review of voting 
behavior in presidential elections, and consider not only rural and urban voting, but also 
regional voting, examining both Southern and Northern voting patterns.  I find that the 
urban rural gap is in fact a contemporary phenomenon. 
When voters went to the polls in November of 2008, there were a lot of questions 
as to which groups of people would come out in support of which candidate.  Would 
evangelicals vote in large numbers for John McCain or simply stay home?  Would the 
youth vote turn out as their pre-election polling numbers suggested, voting 
overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, or would their bark be bigger than their bite as 
history would suggest?  One division in the voting electorate that was not discussed as 
much was what choice urban and rural voters would make on Election Day.  These two 
groups were mostly left out of the discussion because their election decisions were a 
foregone conclusion to many before their choice was made; the urban voters would vote 
for Obama in large numbers, while the rural voters would come out in support for 
McCain.  And, as post election numbers have shown, these predictions held true for the 
most part: Obama came out 13 million votes ahead of McCain in urban counties, while 
McCain garnered almost 3 million more votes in rural America that his Democratic 
counterpart (Murphy and Bishop 2008).  
As the numbers show in the 2008 election, as well as in the most recent previous 
elections, there is a persistent and gaping divide between the urban and rural electorate, 

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