Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Two Americas?

Via Andrew Samwick, Patrick Ruffini, the Webmaster for the Bush-Cheney campaign, has an interesting post on how Bush did in the Northeast. For today, he discusses New York City:
In New York City, Bush's vote surged from 399,627 to 492,629. In Long Island and Westchester, it went from 607,224 to 720,719. Out of over 3,100 county units in America, Richmond County (Staten Island), home to more than its fair share of police and firefighters, turned in Bush’s 32nd strongest swing in the nation -- a spot usually reserved for tiny rural outliers. (The swing to Bush in the Rockaways, once we get the precinct results, must have been remarkable.) Looking at Bush’s most improved counties from 2000, you have to scroll down the list to Hidalgo County, Texas (12.76% swing to Bush) and Honolulu, Hawaii (12.23% swing) to find a county with more than 100,000 votes cast that isn’t in New York or New Jersey.
The analysis by vote count is quite misleading (what matters is the percentage, to a certain extent). If population growth was large enough, then the "surge" in votes is simply New York growing and retaining the same proportion of Democrats and Republicans. But population growth was not significant enough to explain this, so there was in fact a swing. Ruffini also links to an article by Robert David Sullivan. The heart of this, as it relates to New York is
Nationally, four of the five counties with the biggest GOP gains, in raw votes, were those that make up Long Island. Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk counties all went for Kerry, but his margin there was more than 250,000 votes short of Gore's in 2000. At the same time, Staten Island flipped from 57 percent for Gore to a 50 percent win for Bush, while New Jersey's Ocean County (which has a high retiree population) went from a 49 percent plurality for Bush in 2000 to a 60 percent landslide this time.
Our neat division of the U.S. into Kerry coasts and a Bush center doesn't quite hold. There was something of a 9/11 effect. Perhaps basing an analysis around assuming two Americas is misleading. Maybe there aren't such dramatic cultural differences from one part of the country to another...


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