Friday, August 4, 2017

GOP Fading in the Exurbs?

Republicans generally tend to do well at the fringes of metropolitan areas in the so-called exurbs. The Wall Street Journal's Dante Chinni reports, based on aggregated Gallup data from the second quarter of this year, that their hold on these areas may be slipping. Here's the basic story:
Data from Gallup show 45.5% of adults in exurban communities self-identified as Republican in the second quarter of 2017, down from 49.6% in the first quarter of 2017 and 51.6% in the fourth quarter of 2016. It was also the lowest quarterly number for self-identified Republicans in the exurbs since 2013, the earliest numbers available.
The data also showed an increase in self-identified Democrats in exurban counties to 40.5% from 37.3% in the first quarter of 2017 and 36.8% in the fourth quarter of 2016. The 40.5% was the highest number recorded from Democrats since 2013…..
To be sure, the first quarters of 2017 have not been good overall for Republicans in the Gallup poll. Nationally, the number of adults self-identifying as Republicans dropped by about 2.6 percentage points since the end of 2016 – from 41.1% to 38.5%. But the 6-point drop in the exurbs was particularly noteworthy and may be tied to larger socio-economic issues.
The exurbs are home to a specific kind of Republican voter.
These counties, which are typically at the edges of urban areas’ commuter bubbles, are better educated than the nation as a whole: 34% of people 25-and-older have a bachelor’s degree, compared to less than 30% nationally. And their average median household income, $64,226, is more than $10,000 above the national median….
The figures could represent an important political shift in these communities. A movement of even a few points on the partisan divide could impact close House and Senate races, considering the relatively large population of these counties.
Now none of this means that Democrats are about to start dominating the exurbs. But they don't have too. Merely narrowing the GOP advantage in these areas combined with Democrats' continued strength in inner suburbs and urban areas will put them in a very good position going forward. Conversely, the GOP's base is now so narrow that they can ill afford significant attrition in any part of it.

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