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Election in the United States: between the America of cities and those of the fields, a gulf

The battle over the verdict of the US presidential election will leave its mark. These stigmas will be added to the many cleavages that cross American society, accentuated year by year, at the rate of elections, social movements, the digital revolution, economic crises and today health.

The mapping fresh out of the electoral results reveals a reality that is more caricatured than ever: in the United States, the cities vote Democratic and the countryside vote Republican. “A reality which is accentuated over the last polls and which has long been different”, according to Romain Huret, historian of the United States and director of studies at EHESS.

An almost binary journey, between an America of the fields, bathed in republican red, and that of the cities, bluer than ever. And a reality that goes far beyond the famous rivalry between the coasts and the heart of the country.

The increasingly consumed divorce between the coastal regions and the heart of the country

Throughout the twentieth century, the American campaigns were crossed by very diverse political tendencies, even more carried to the left, as Romain Huret recalls. “The American rural world has been shaken by numerous social protests, more on the left, as in Kansas between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.” In the first part of the 20th century, dozens of mayors from the Socialist Party of America were elected from Ohio to Alabama, via Nebraska and Minnesota.

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Today, according to the latest published results of the 2020 presidential election, less than 10% of municipalities considered to be rural voted mostly for Joe Biden, as this map shows the candidate who came first by county.

This map, largely tinted in red, does not reflect the true distribution of American voters. Once put into perspective with the population density, we understand how tight the ballot was, and especially how severe the split between the coastal states and those of the “Heartland” is.

Election in the United States: between the America of cities and those of the fields, a chasm

Despite what has been predicted, the increase in participation did not benefit only Joe Biden. “If the configuration is relatively close to 2016, Trump has won more votes,” notes the historian, faced with electoral data which is flowing in real time. According to our calculations, of the 1,412 counties where Trump led, he is up in 1,406 of them from his previous score in 2016.

Election in the United States: between the America of cities and those of the fields, a gulf

Such a blatant divide within the … rural states

But the central states of the country are not exclusively speckled with cattle farms and carpeted with deserts or fields as far as the eye can see. In each state, a capital, often much more populated than elsewhere, and a few secondary towns, which bring together a large majority of the population. As in Nevada, populated by 3 million people, where 90% of the population is grouped in the counties of Reno and Las Vegas alone. And the pattern repeats itself again.

Election in the United States: between the America of cities and those of the fields, a chasm

According to Romain Huret, the ideological divide between town and country is particularly caricatured in Wisconsin. “The cities of Madison and Milwaukee (which was once ruled by a socialist mayor, Editor’s note), are very progressive” and a few miles away, a very conservative campaign, “formerly MacCarthyste”, today acquired by Trumpist ideas .

Election in the United States: between the America of cities and those of the fields, a chasm

The city of Austin, Texas is also known for being a Democratic island, in the middle of a Republican ocean. “There, we find populations more qualified, even haughty for some, steeped in counter-culture, very digitalized and integrated into globalization”.

Election in the United States: between the America of cities and those of the fields, a gulf

This contrast between the rurality of “Bring America back again” and the towns of “No malarkey” is also striking in the states which had very close scores. Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona or Nevada, all of these maps display impressive cleavages.

Election in the United States: between the America of cities and those of the fields, a gulf

To explain these differences, the historian, a specialist in inequalities in the United States, outlines several avenues: “The large coastal cities are naturally more exposed to globalization, headquarters of prestigious universities and embarked on the digital revolution”. Inland, the situation is quite different. “A large part of the population is penetrated by a feeling of remoteness, of isolation, of industrial effervescence, but also of the new economy”. The influence of the audiovisual industry, and more recently of social networks, “accentuates this frustration”. And the country specialist concluded: “The conditions in which the ballot took place will not help matters” …

Original article by : www.leparisien.fr

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