City Mice vs. Country Mice

As the last several posts here on InsideCatholic can attest, everyone has different “take-aways” from Tuesday’s election results. For myself, I don’t know what to think; there are so many factors in play (and I know so little about most of them), I have trouble knowing what to take away.

I am continually intrigued by the “urban vs. rural” divide, though – a divide that I was particularly aware of when looking over the results from my wife’s home-state of Washington, where Dino Rossi was battling the Democratic incumbent, Patty Murray.

Rossi, previously most famous for losing the 2004 race for governor of Washington by 129 votes, had a strangle-hold on the right-hand side of the state, sweeping through those counties by margins nearly always in the 60% range, and sometimes even over 70%. In the lower-left corner of the state (a bit closer to Portland), Rossi’s leads shrink down into the 55% range (and, occasionally, below). In the counties won by Murray, her margin of victory is rarely higher than that 55%, and in some cases is as low as 51%.

The notable exception to this rule is King County, where Murray boasts a robust 63% to Rossi’s anemic 37%. And what, one might ask, is so special about King Country?


As a result, Murray walks away from King County with a 105,000+ lead – a lead that cannot be overcome even by numerous victories for Rossi in the smaller counties such as Adams, where a 73% “thrashing” brings him a grand total of 2,427 votes.

Some may remember that I have been obsessed with the electoral college (and the efforts to overturn it) for some time. The same principles are at work here, only on a county level. If a candidate can pick up entire cities, why crisscross the state looking to the highways and byways? It’s much more effective (and much more fiscally “responsible”) to focus on the urban areas, if they provide one with a significant advantage.

None of this is new, I know. But for some reason, I was particularly intrigued this time around by the question of “why” urban areas are so very blue. There must be something about certain kinds of people that draws them city-ward, just as there is something about certain kinds of people that causes them to flee into the countryside. (Wow, that’s an almost-hopelessly general statement.)

But fascinating to think about.


A Country Mouse


P.S. Yes, I’m biased. This is what Wyoming looked like on Tuesday.


Joseph Susanka has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since his graduation from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. Currently residing in Lander, Wyoming -- "where Stetsons meet Birkenstocks" -- he is a columnist for Crisis Magazine and the Patheos Catholic portal.

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