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13 November 2020updated 28 Jul 2021 5:56am

The city shift: how the urban-rural divide deepened in the US election

A City Monitor piece examines how our political polarisation can be mapped across America's cities, suburbs, and rural areas. 

By Emily Tamkin

“Heavily urban areas have long been associated with larger shares of Democratic voting, but the results of this year’s election show that this relationship is becoming more extreme, with bigger swings in the vote towards the Democrats tending to occur in more densely populated counties.”

So explain Alexandra Kanik and Patrick Scott in our sister publication, City Monitor. By taking a deep dive into the data, Kanik and Scott explore the ways in which America’s cities are becoming more Democratic; and rural areas, more Republican.

That’s important for (at least) two reasons. First, it helps to explain how Biden won — movement toward the President-elect in areas around large cities was key in flipping certain pivotal states. But second, it explains not just where the country is, but where it’s going. A win through the cities can, as Kanik and Scott explore, paper over the fact that cities are actually at a disadvantage in the American electoral system and can help blind victorious Democrats to the realities of the rural-urban divide. 

For more election News in Brief, visit our US election 2020 hub.

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