The local voting patterns in the presidential election showed a narrowing of several traditional differences. Preliminary vote results suggest that the partisan gap between urban and suburban locations along with traditional democratic advantage has narrowed in heavily Hispanic counties. Whites and non-whites now agree a little better on how to vote.
The resilience of the economic divide is all the more striking. In fact, the gap between red and blue counties in terms of educational attainment, household incomes, and projected long-term employment growth was not just persistent. it widened.
To see how these partisan differences have changed, we need to look at the fluctuations between 2016 and 2020.
Based on counties with 98 percent or more of the estimated votes cast, the correlation between a departure from President Trump and the percentage of college graduates in a county was 0.49 (a correlation of 1 represents a perfect relationship and 0 represents no relationship.)
Better educated places that initially turned a strong blue tended to be even more democratic in 2020 than in 2016. Highly educated Republican counties like Williamson County near Nashville and Forsyth County near Atlanta have become rarer with each election.
A better educated workforce is a good sign of future local economic success – and places with better prospects swung towards Joe Biden. Jobs that require more education are likely to grow faster and less at risk from automation. Counties in which there are more jobs “routine”(In the sense that the risk of automation is greater) voted strongly for Mr. Trump in 2016 and 2020, while districts with fewer such jobs switched to Mr. Biden. Likewise counties with a mix of Professions that are expected to grow faster Voted even more for Mr Biden in 2020 than for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Not only have places with better economic prospects swung more towards Biden, but places with a stronger economy in the past four years. Districts with faster job growth and lower unemployment before the pandemic swung more towards Mr Biden than other districts. And districts with easier job losses and smaller jumps in unemployment during the pandemic also swung more towards Biden, although Republican locations suffered less from the pandemic than Democratic ones.
Overall, the voting patterns hardly change from election to election. Despite all the drama and turmoil in this case, the correlation between the districts’ vote margins for Mr Trump in 2016 and 2020 was 0.99 – which is typical of the most recent consecutive elections with the same candidate on the ballot.
In other words, only 7 percent of the districts (weighted by their vote) swung more than 10 points in both directions between 2016 and 2020.
But in close races, even small fluctuations determine who wins, and they show how politics is changing.
Compared to 2016, many more places swung toward Mr. Biden than toward Mr. Trump, but the major local shifts were toward Mr. Trump. These included heavily Hispanic areas in Miami-Dade County and along the Texan border, as well as the more Mormon counties of Utah and Idaho (though some of those counties are still below 98 percent of coverage).
Some of these local fluctuations may be due to local organizational efforts or unusual local conditions. Nevertheless, clear patterns emerge.
Both denser and more extensive suburbs of large subways swung about five points towards Mr. Biden, while traditionally democratic boroughs hasn’t changed much. Even non-metropolitan, mostly rural districts have hardly changed.
Despite some demographic realignments, the economies of the red and blue cities drifted further apart. And as these gaps widen, it becomes increasingly difficult for America to have a common view of the state of the economy and the policies it needs most.
Based on New York Times election results on Wednesday morning November 11th.
Jed Kolko is the chief economist at Indeed.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @JedKolko.