US ELECTION 2020: if Biden wins, it will be down to the city vote

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A voter wears an “I Voted” sticker on Election Day in New York on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. (Photo by Richard B. Levine)


ONE of the more intriguing elements of the US Election is the electoral map that you can analyse in great depth and ask why each state has largely red Republican sections, but overall vote Democrat.

Pennsylvania has been a key battleground state, and if you looked at the electoral map you would probably expect Donald Trump to win because of the sea of red. Trump has maintained a large lead in the state since election night that has slowly been closing.

But why is it closing? Well, like many battleground states, the main ballots to be counted are mail-in ballots and they are coming from the big cities.

Take a look at this electoral map of Pennsylvania.

As you can see, the map is largely red. However Biden holds blue sections in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Allentown, and these sections are often voting 55-80% in favour of him.

Philadelphia, for example, has over 525,000 ballots in favour of Biden, and only 120,000 for the President.

A lot of the red counties are populated by fewer than 30,000 people, which means that Trump wins these counties comfortably, but when you look at the numbers of voters involved they are only small wins in the big picture.

Elsewhere, we have picked out a strong Republican state like Alabama.

This is a state that voted heavily in favour of Donald Trump – 62 per cent to be exact.

However, you can see that there is a blue strip in the middle of the state, and in Birmingham – this is because the urban areas of Alabama are voting for the Democrats, but the less-populated areas are heavily voting for Trump, sometimes by 90 per cent.

Alabama’s neighbour, Georgia, has been a hotly contested state.

That is largely because Atlanta has a very diverse population which votes heavily in favour of the Democrats, but the areas outside the city are voting heavily for the Republicans.

Georgia, though, has more populated urban areas than Alabama, which makes their vote tighter.

Atlanta, Athens, Macon, Savanah, Columbus and Augusta are all growing in population and are becoming more liberal – turning Georgia from a red state to a blue state.

In Atlanta, for example, Biden has picked up around 80 per cent of the vote in those districts. However, a lot of the areas north of Atlanta are voting over 80 per cent in Trump’s favour.

The battle between urban and rural voters is clear in Georgia, and it has made for a fascinating race in this US election.

Another battleground state is Nevada, and you can see that the two cities in the state – Las Vegas and Reno – are the only two districts voting in favour of Biden, with Trump picking up around 45-50% of the vote in those areas.

Outside of these two large urban areas, the rest of Nevada is sparsely populated, but the rural areas are nearly making up the difference in votes.

Trump is ahead in the other 12 districts, but again, these areas often have only a few thousand voters – those small wins can make a difference, though, in a tighter city race.

Now we are going to look at is Texas, which has voted for the Republican party, giving them over 52 per cent of the state vote.

As we can see in the other states we’ve looked at, Texas is largely red – with only pockets of blue.

Where are those blue pockets? Well, it’s the same story of urban-vs-rural voting, and those blue pockets are in the cities of Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio – and on the Mexico border.

These urban areas have voted for Biden at around a 55-60 per cent rate. Texas, though, has a large rural population, which has heavily voted in favour of Trump.

Most of these red blocks are giving the Republicans around 80-90 per cent of the vote in those areas – and since Texas is so large, the combined rural vote is enough to overturn the Biden vote in the urban areas of the state, which means it is difficult for the Democrats to take Texas.

Finally, let’s look at Florida, which is largely seen as the most important swing state.

Trump won this state quite easily, largely because he made in-roads in the urban areas – he targeted the Hispanic and Cuban communities, who voted heavily for him.

Biden did pick up the larger share of votes in Miami, Tampa, Tallahassee, Orlando and Jacksonville – but not enough to overcome the heavy rural voting that went in Trump’s favour.

The story of the 2020 election will be the large voter turn-out that has made both Biden and Trump the most-voted-for candidates in history.

Both sides were able to mobilise their voters, but if Biden wins this election it will have been by winning in the cities, not the countryside.

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