This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Demographics of the US Election Revisited

The discussion surrounding the demographics of the US election has tended to lump the "Red" states together as though they represented a demographically homogeneous group of people voting Republican, while the "Blue" states were somehow homogeneously Democratic. In particular, commentators laid it out that Romney had won the "Confederacy," with the implication that southern states were distinctly different from the rest of the nation. Karen Cox at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, has a nice rebuttal to that idea in today's New York Times.

Voters in Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, Nashville, New Orleans, Birmingham, Ala., and even Jackson, Miss., gave Mr. Obama substantial majorities, not because they are out of step with the rest of the country but because they are part of the same urban-rural divide that drives voting everywhere.
So if we’re going to apply the term “Confederacy,” then perhaps we can all agree that while a majority of Southern white voters seem intransigent to change, the region is nevertheless being transformed by its changing demographics.

Virginia, home to the capital of the Confederacy, went for Mr. Obama. Florida, part of the original Confederacy, also went for Mr. Obama. North Carolina, which Mr. Obama carried in 2008, went to Mr. Romney, but by a very slim margin — more attributable to the economy and job losses than to any conspiracy of Confederate dunces.    

She argues, in particular, that much of the divide is as much along rural/urban lines as anything else. Rural areas everywhere in the country tend to be conservative politically, while urban areas are more liberal. And, since the nation is predominantly urban, you can imagine where that road goes. 

I thought about that same exact point yesterday as my wife and I watched the movie "Lincoln." The debate about the 13th amendment abolishing slavery played out in the House of Representatives of a country that, at the time, had only northern states. It passed in the House by only two votes, back in the day when the country was still largely rural.

1 comment:

  1. I'm supposed to be preparing a lecture on the theology of mission of Eastern Orthodoxy but I found this fascinating report which was just released: