Mormon Outposts

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...
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...
August 13, 2012
Watching, reading and listening to news in America in 2012 is often about more than gathering information — it’s also about reinforcing one’s own views. An increasingly fragmented media environment lets voters see the world through various prisms depending on their personal political leanings. The Web’s instant melding of news and views can quickly put a comforting slant on headlines for devotees of President Barack Obama or presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney. That can have real impact in 2012 as a form of soft (or not so soft) political messaging. Consider last week’s release of the July unemployment and jobs report. Was the big news that 163,000 jobs were added, which was up from theJune numbers, as the left-leaning Daily Kos told its readers? Or was it that the unemployment rate rose to 8.3%, as conservative Michelle Malkin noted? That depends on which site voters clicked – and data show the site voters clicked is connected to where they...
May 11, 2012
Much has been made of the political implications of President Barack Obama’s announcement this week that he personally supports gay marriage. The news had hardly broken in Washington before conversations quickly turned to what it means for the 2012 election. Some tea-party conservatives seemed sure it would cost him the re-election. Some analysts saw a fundraising boon and a way to fire up his base. Others said it would fire up his opponents. But as commentators debate the impacts of Mr. Obama’s words, a few things are clear. Polls show a growing acceptance of gay marriage in the U.S. And Census data show the number of same-sex households is a growing across the nation. Look at the two maps below derived from an analysis of Census 2010 data by Gary J. Gates of UCLA’s Williams Institute. The top shows the number of same-sex households in the U.S. by county in 2000. The bottom shows those households in 2010. For the rest of this week's Politics...
May 9, 2012
What's the significance of President Obama's evolution on gay marriage? In terms of policy, probably not much. He made clear in his interview with ABC News that he still considers the issue one for the states to resolve. But in an election year, the political impact could be much bigger. Across the 12 county types in Patchwork Nation, there are very different reactions to the issue. As we've noted in more in-depth reporting, some county types -- the wealthy Monied 'Burbs, collegiate Campus and Careers, and big city Industrial Metropolis -- believe by wide margins that homosexuality as a lifestyle should be accepted by society. Others - like the culturally conservative Evangelical Epicenters, Mormon Outposts and African American heavy Minority Central counties -- feel strongly that it should be discouraged. A recent Pew Research Center poll broken into Patchwork Nation's 12 county types offers some clues about what Obama's announcement could mean on...
March 2, 2012
Two months in, the 2012 battle for the Republican presidential nomination has become a more protracted fight than many had expected or wanted. But as analysts wonder what the drawn-out fight means, a critical point has been lost. The current scenario, with a fractured base on display, is not really surprising. In fact, in some ways it is the most obvious outcome. The Republican Party’s triumph in the 2010 midterms was a measure of Republican antipathy toward President Barack Obama, but not a statement about what the party stands for. And now, as the Republican Party searches for consensus, there are structural factors pushing its back-and-forth nominating fight. First, the party is trying to redefine itself. Without a president or a strong leader at its top, the various factions within the party are using the primaries to have a very public argument about its direction. Second, the way most of the primaries have divvied up convention delegates up to now –...
December 19, 2011
Going into 2012, the biggest shift in the electorate may be its feelings about who is best suited to handle the challenges of the economy. Back in 2008, the Democratic Party was not only the choice on the poll question “which party would do a better job” with the economy, it was the choice by a wide margin. Urban, suburban and rural, young and old, rich and poor, geographic and demographic groups of all stripes chose the Democrats. The picture is very different on the eve of the 2012 primary season, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. Republicans best Democrats on that same question with some very important voting blocs, including the elderly, the wealthy, middle income voters, white working class voters and suburbanites. The Democratic Party’s fall since 2008 has been sharp: a 15 percentage point drop among  18- to 34-year-olds and those 65 and older, a 12-point drop among those who make more than $75,000 a year, an 11-point slide...
December 7, 2011
This October Patchwork Nation Director Dante Chinni spoke at TEDxMidAtlantic 2011. His presentation ‘You Don`t Know America, Or How Community Triumphs Over Soccer Moms and Red and Blue States in the 21st Century U.S.’ explored how the U.S. news media often misunderstand and mischaracterize American communities.  Chinni talked about how his experience as a reporter travelling to various communities around the country had led him to create Patchwork Nation to gain a more nuanced perspective on the many different kinds of communities and subcultures within the United States. The work led to the creation of this site and the book Our Patchwork Nation.. The project was noticed TEDx organizers who chose Chinni to discuss it at Sidney Harman Hall in Washington, DC on October 29. The presentation can be seen in the video below. Dante Chinni at TEDxMidAtlantic 2011 from Jefferson Institute on Vimeo. TED conferences bring together the...