Evangelical Epicenters

December 18, 2012
The election is behind them and the holidays are here, but Americans are in a dour mood about the future, particularly where the economy is concerned. More than half of them, 53%, think the country is headed in the “wrong direction” and more than a quarter, 28%, say they expect the economy will be worse next year than it is now, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. Those numbers won’t likely bring smiles to the White House, but what they actually mean and represent requires a little digging. Four years of economic ups and (mostly) downs seem to have taken a toll on the traditionally sunny American perspective. And, as one might expect, there is subdued enthusiasm for a year ahead that essentially returns an unpopular status quo to Washington to govern. But there are also deep partisan divides in evidence in this poll. And there is at least some evidence that those attitudes are having an exaggerated effect on how those people perceive the...
November 29, 2012
As the votes from the 2012 election have trickled in, the size of President Obama’s victory has grown – it’s now more than 4 million votes. That count should signify two things to Republicans who wanted to portray President Obama’s win as a squeaker. One, while this margin is no mandate, it is bigger than either of George W. Bush’s presidential wins in 2000 (in which he actually lost the popular vote) or 2004. Two, despite some GOP critiques that Mr. Obama won by capturing small slices of the electorate, the net result was a pretty broad win. But looked at through Patchwork Nation, there is one larger overriding concern for the Republicans in the 2012 election results: despite all the talk of minority voters and demographic segments, there are signs they are losing the political middle. That shift reveals itself when you look at the 2012 vote counts and margins compared to previous elections, particularly 2004, in the wealthy Monied Burbs, the...
November 6, 2012
As we have often noted here at Patchwork Nation, when you look at national elections at the county level it’s not usually about different types of communities swinging from one party to the other, it’s about changes in margins of support. As Election Day 2012 arrives that appears to be as true as ever. A Patchwork Nation analysis of two new surveys, coming in just before the polls open, finds complete agreement about which presidential candidate is going to win in each of our 12 county/community types. The differences in the numbers, from the Pew Research Center and the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, are in the margins. Some of those differences are big, but the end result of both seems to be the same, an edge to President Barack Obama. To be clear the numbers are not the same. Mr. Obama seems to be in better shape with the Pew figures – nationally he leads in that poll by 3 points and that lead manifests itself in the crucial Monied Burbs in their data. And Mr...
November 5, 2012
Of all the toss-up states left in the 2012 campaign, Virginia may be the most difficult to get a read on. Driving across the complex mix of communities, economies and politics is like driving through several different states. The growth and increasing power in the moderate, left-leaning suburbs of Washington, D.C., has pushed the state more firmly into the battleground column in the past few elections. But it doesn’t take long to get into territory dominated by socially conservative evangelical voters or to reach the state’s socially liberal college center and the large pockets of military and veteran voters on the southern shore. Somewhere in that mix is a formula of support, turnout and enthusiasm for President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney that will determine who will carry Virginia and its 13 electoral votes. But as polls have shown, figuring which way the state will break is not easy and with just...
October 25, 2012
There are few community types in Patchwork Nation as different as the Evangelical Epicenters and the Campus and Careers counties. Culturally and economically the live in different worlds and that manifests itself in politics. In 2008, the collegiate Campus and Careers counties went for Barack Obama by an 18-point margin – 58% - 40%. Only the big city Industrial Metropolis counties were more firmly behind President Obama. The Evangelical Epicenters were one of the few county types that actually bucked the national trend toward the Democrats four years ago. Those counties actually gave the GOP a greater margin of victory in 2008 than they did in 2004 – a 33-percentage point win for McCain-Palin, compared to a 31-percentage point win for Bush-Cheney in 2004. If 2012 is to be “base election” as many are theorizing, what do these county types tell us about the vote? Patchwork Nation has visited a few communities in the battleground state of Virginia in the...
October 19, 2012
The story of Mitt Romney’s gender gap issues are well-known to most by now. Since he locked down the Republican nomination this spring, the former Massachusetts governor’s struggles with winning women voters have been chronicled in a slew of polls showing he has nearly a double-digit deficit with them. But as we have noted in this space, it’s not really as easy as saying that Mr. Romney has a “women problem.” Women represent more than half of the U.S. population and more than half of the electorate. They are hard to characterize as a single voting bloc. When you look at the gender gap through the filter of Patchwork Nation’s breakdown of 12 different kinds of counties, it dissolves – or at least grows murkier. In counties where Mr. Romney does well overall, he wins the “women’s vote” – by large margins in some places. In places where he generally struggles, he loses among women badly. But he also has a...
October 15, 2012
By most every account, Republican nominee Mitt Romney shook up the presidential race last week with a strong showing in the first presidential debate. By early last week, polls from Gallup to Pew seemed to indicate the race had changed.  The question is how much? To help answer that question Patchwork Nation broke down the data inside the most recent Pew Research Center poll using its 12 types of counties to get a sense of where the Romney surge is most visible. Repeating a method of analysis we have used on previous Pew polls. The breakdown, released here in conjunction with American University, shows a big surge in the exurbs for Romney (counties called Boom Towns) and some growth of support in the big cities (counties called the Industrial Metropolis). President Obama, meanwhile, still appears to hold the lead in the crucial suburban counties (counties called the Monied Burbs) and to hold great strength in the counties that are a heavy with college students (counties...
October 15, 2012
Last week, we discussed state-by-state differences in online conversations around the issue of unemployment. That analysis of millions of words from news posts, blogs and user comments showed how the conversation in the swing states of Florida, Ohio and Virginia varies greatly because of cultural and socioeconomic factors. But we also found big differences within the same state — Florida — over how people talk about the biggest issue of the 2012 campaign. This kind of information could be important to President Obama and Mitt Romney in how they shape their messages while visiting the state and in advertisements. But it's not clear that they're tailoring their messages to take advantage of this kind of distinction. We looked at the online "unemployment" conversations in two very different Florida counties: Citrus, a growing but still not densely populated county near the state's Interstate 4 corridor; and Miami-Dade, the bustling, diverse,...
October 15, 2012
Every few years America’s major political parties get very interested in getting people registered to vote – or maybe more accurately, in getting the “right” people registered to vote. It’s a lot easier to come up with a winning hand on Election Day when the deck is stacked in your favor. So, for months now, supporters of President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have been knocking on doors and standing corners trying to register like-minded people. In a close election every vote may count, particularly in the swing states. To get an idea of who’s ahead in the registration game, Politics Counts looked at the tallies in key states where voters register as Democrats or Republicans – Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. We then compared those figures to previous voter registration counts in 2008 and 2004. Who’s winning? That depends on the state you look at and the...
October 10, 2012
Since the beginning of the Great Recession, unemployment has driven much of the national conversation, and with good reason. Even as the stock market has recovered, the struggles of ordinary Americans in the job market continues, with the latest unemployment report showing the jobless rate finally dipping below 8 percent for the first time since early 2009. But what does the unemployment conversation look like? While the national media and campaign rhetoric often boil the issue down to numbers or anecdotes, it is a much broader topic that carries with it a host of different concerns and fears in people — losing one's pension, losing one's home, losing one's future. To get an understanding of just how different those conversations are, the Jefferson Institute analyzed 20 months' worth of blogs, news stories and story comments in communities around the country, focusing on three crucial presidential swing states: Florida, Ohio and Virginia. We combed...