Why Is There Such a Deep Political Divide Between Rural and Urban Areas?

As I watched the US midterm election results role in yesterday and today, one observation struck me more than anything. I’ve noticed it before, but I’ve always thought, “Oh, that’s just the way it is.” This time was different–it occurred to me that such an answer isn’t enough. I want to understand.

Why is there such a deep political divide between rural and urban areas?

A few notes before I continue:

  • I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments, but this is NOT a political debate.
  • In the discussion, I would invite you to avoid generalizations. If you want to make a statement that requires data, provide a link to that data. Racist comments will be removed.
  • On that note, I fully understand that just because many rural areas voted Republican and many urban areas voted Democratic, it does not mean that everyone in those areas has the same political views.
  • “Rural” and “urban” are generalized terms, as the population can vary quite a bit in different types of rural and urban areas.

Okay, onward! Here’s the image that really got me thinking about this topic:

The core question in my mind is: What is the nature about rural versus urban areas that leads to such a distinct political divide? There are so many different types of people in both areas. I know that in itself is a bit of a generalization, but there are pockets of civilization everywhere in various shapes and sizes.

Here’s some data I found in this article that might help:

  • The poverty rate is higher in urban areas.
  • There are more young people in cities and more old people in rural areas.
  • 20% of people in rural areas have a bachelor’s degree (compared to 29% in urban areas).

The key differences appear to be economics, age, and education.

So what in the world do those two factors have to do with stances on core political issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, immigration, and climate change? That’s what I really can’t wrap my mind around.

I don’t know–I must be missing something obvious here. Is it just tradition? If so, the tradition must have started somewhere. It seems odd that it would be so distinct–there are so many different counties in Missouri alone, yet they all voted Republican. Why do all of them have the same political views while both major cities in the state voted for the Democrats?