Urban vote up, not decisive in most swing states

November 20, 2012

In interviews after the Nov. 6 election, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) repeatedly argued that high turnout in urban areas was behind President Obama's victory.

NBC News has crunched the numbers and finds that while urban county turnout did increase in a number of swing states, only in Florida was the change significant. And in two large battlegrounds, his share of the urban vote was lower than in 2008. In Ohio and Pennsylvania, Obama won fewer voters in urban counties than he did in 2008. In Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin, Obama's increased share of urban voters made up only a small part of the president's overall margin of victory. 

Florida is the exception. Obama significantly increased his share of the vote in the dense Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, and Orange counties. The 56,000 new voters he got in those three counties make up three-quarters of his 74,000-vote margin of victory. 

Ballots are still being counted -- only 10 states have made their election results official. But right now, it looks like increased urban turnout did not prove decisive. 

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · November 20, 2012