How the Democratic vote

changed since 2004

URBAN COUNTIES

500,000 people or more

157.8M

people in 137 counties

+20% D

2004

2008

2012

2016

112

25

counties voted more

Democratic in 2016

than in 2004

counties voted less

Democratic in 2016

than in 2004

SMALL COUNTIES

25,000 people or less

17.5M

people in 1,508 counties

+20% D

2004

-20% D

2016

139

1,362

How the Democratic vote changed since 2004

URBAN COUNTIES

SMALL COUNTIES

500,000 people or more

25,000 people or less

157.8M

17.5M

people in 137 counties

people in 1,508 counties

+20% D

2004

+20% D

2004

-20% D

2008

2012

2016

2016

112

25

139

1,362

counties voted more

Democratic in 2016

than in 2004

counties voted less

Democratic in 2016

than in 2004

How the Democratic vote changed in every county since 2004

79 percent of

Americans

live in these

two groups

URBAN COUNTIES

LARGE COUNTIES

MEDIUM-SIZED COUNTIES

SMALL COUNTIES

500,000 people or more

100K-500K

25K-100K

25,000 people or less

157.8M

95.8M

49.6M

17.5M

people in 137 counties

people in 453 counties

people in 1,012 counties

people in 1,508 counties

+20% D

2004

+20% D

2004

-20% D

+20% D

2004

-20% D

+20% D

2004

-20% D

Obama’s 2008 election

swung many larger

counties to the left

compared to 2004.

The share of

Democratic votes

in rural counties

has decreased

since 2004.

2008

2012

2016

2016

2016

2016

112

25

193

260

131

878

139

1,362

counties voted more

Democratic in 2016

than in 2004

counties voted less

Democratic in 2016

than in 2004

How the Democratic vote changed in every county since 2004

79 percent of

Americans

live in these

two groups

URBAN COUNTIES

LARGE COUNTIES

MEDIUM-SIZED COUNTIES

SMALL COUNTIES

500,000 people or more

100K-500K

25K-100K

25,000 people or less

157.8M

95.8M

49.6M

17.5M

people in 137 counties

people in 453 counties

people in 1,012 counties

people in 1,508 counties

+20% D

2004

+20% D

2004

-20% D

+20% D

2004

-20% D

+20% D

2004

-20% D

Obama’s 2008 election

swung many larger

counties to the left

compared to 2004.

The share of

Democratic votes

in rural counties

has decreased

since 2004.

2008

2012

2016

2016

2016

2016

112

25

193

260

131

878

139

1,362

counties voted more

Democratic in 2016

than in 2004

counties voted less

Democratic in 2016

than in 2004

By Lazaro Gamio
Nov. 17, 2016

In what is likely the most divisive election in recent history, deep-rooted patterns in how the country votes have become more pronounced.

The majority of counties with populations greater than 500,000 — where roughly half of Americans live — swung further to the left. In Los Angeles County, for example, about 71 percent of votes went for Hillary Clinton this year, compared with about 69 percent for Obama in 2008 and 2012, and 63 percent for John F. Kerry in 2004. That effect even spilled into neighboring Orange County, which before this election had not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936.

Each line is one county

2004

If a line swings to the left, it means the county voted more Democratic compared to 2004. If it swings to the right, it voted less Democratic.

+D

-D

Number of counties in 2016 that voted more or less Democratic compared with 2004.

2016

##

##

Trump

Clinton

Color is winner in 2016

Thickness is number

of votes cast in 2016

1K

1M

Each line is one county

Color is winner in 2016

2004

If a line swings to the left, it means the county voted more Democratic compared to 2004. If it swings to the right, it voted less Democratic.

Trump

Clinton

+D

-D

Thickness is number

of votes cast in 2016

Number of counties in 2016 that voted more or less Democratic compared with 2004.

2016

1K

1M

##

##

CALIFORNIA

58 counties

+20% D

2004

California’s smaller

counties swung to

the right this election

Los Angeles

+8.6

2016

44

14

ILLINOIS

102 counties

+20% D

2004

-20% D

Smaller counties that

swung far to the left

in 2008 have since

swung far to the right

DuPage

+9

Cook

+4.2

Chicago

2016

11

91

CALIFORNIA

ILLINOIS

58 counties

102 counties

+20% D

2004

+20% D

2004

-20% D

Smaller counties that

swung far to the left

in 2008 have since

swung far to the right

DuPage

Los Angeles

+9

Chicago

+8.6

Cook

+4.2

California’s smaller

counties swung to

the right this election

2016

2016

44

14

11

91

This urban swing to the left is noticeable not just in blue states such as California and Illinois but also in states that are reliably Republican.

Even in ruby-red Texas, the largest urban counties swung left. Take Harris County, home to Houston, as an example. Obama won this county by less than one-tenth of 1 percent in 2012, but Clinton beat Donald Trump there by more than 12 percentage points — a margin greater than George W. Bush’s in either of his presidential campaigns. Even Tarrant County — home to Fort Worth — swung to the left but was still carried by Trump.

TEXAS

254 counties

+20% D

2004

-20% D

The majority of

Texas’s counties

have swung

to the right

Dallas-

Ft. Worth

Dallas

+12.1

Tarrant

+6.4

Harris

Galveston

+9.6

-4.8

Houston

2016

67

187

GEORGIA

159 counties

+20% D

2004

-20% D

Four counties

around Atlanta

Gwinnett

+17.5

2016

47

112

TEXAS

GEORGIA

254 counties

159 counties

+20% D

2004

-20% D

+20% D

2004

-20% D

Four counties

around Atlanta

The majority of

Texas’s counties

have swung

to the right

Dallas

Dallas-

Fort Worth

+12.1

Tarrant

Gwinnett

+6.4

+17.5

Houston

Harris

Galveston

+9.6

-4.8

2016

2016

67

187

47

112

That pattern repeated in Georgia, where a number of counties that make up the Atlanta metro area voted more Democratic than in 2012.

Outside these urban counties, the opposite is true. In counties with fewer than 100,000 people — which make up 80 percent of counties in the country but contain only about 20 percent of the population — 9 out of 10 voted more Republican than they did in 2004.

[ How rural resentment helps explain the surprising victory of Donald Trump]

Aside from the very urban and the very rural, the election was won and lost in America’s medium-size counties. Midwestern states, suburban counties and medium-size cities that voted for Obama in 2012 went for Trump, effectively handing him the presidency.

PENNSYLVANIA

67 counties

+20% D

2004

-20% D

Westmoreland

East of Pittsburgh

-7.1

Philadelphia

Erie

+4.2

-7.1

2016

8

59

OHIO

88 counties

+20% D

2004

-20% D

... while Northern

Ohio’s urban areas

swung to the right.

Franklin

+6.2

Hamilton

+5.4

Columbus and

Cincinnati swung

to the left ...

Lorain

-7.1

Cuyahoga

-0.7

2016

4

84

PENNSYLVANIA

OHIO

67 counties

88 counties

+20% D

2004

-20% D

+20% D

2004

-20% D

... while Northern

Ohio’s urban areas

swung to the right.

Westmoreland

Franklin

+6.2

East of Pittsburgh

-7.1

Hamilton

+5.4

Columbus and

Cincinnati swung

to the left ...

Lorain

Philadelphia

Erie

-7.1

+4.2

-7.1

Cuyahoga

-0.7

2016

2016

8

59

4

84

Medium-size Rust Belt counties such as Erie County, Pa., had not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984 but flipped for Trump. Pennsylvania as a whole went for Trump, in no small part because of lower voter turnout in Democratic strongholds such as Philadelphia.

Along the coast of Lake Erie in Ohio, eight counties that voted for Obama in 2012 voted for Trump. And they were not just Rust Belt towns. Suburban Lorain County, just west of Cleveland, was carried by Trump after it had voted Democratic in the past four presidential elections. Cleveland — which Clinton carried — swung to the right compared with 2004. In fact, she did worse there than any Democratic candidate since 2000.

[ In a crucial Democratic stronghold, Trump surged. Clinton didn’t.]

MICHIGAN

83 counties

+20% D

2004

-20% D

Kent

Grand Rapids

+5

Three counties

around Detroit

Macomb

-6.7

Oakland

Wayne

+1.9

-2.3

2016

8

75

WISCONSIN

72 counties

+20% D

2004

-20% D

Two counties

between

Milwaukee

and Chicago

Milwaukee

Kenosha

-5.3

+4.6

Dane

Racine

+5.3

-2.1

2016

4

68

MICHIGAN

WISCONSIN

83 counties

72 counties

+20% D

2004

-20% D

+20% D

2004

-20% D

Kent

Two counties

between

Milwaukee

and Chicago

Grand Rapids

+5

Three counties

around Detroit

Macomb

Milwaukee

Kenosha

-6.7

-5.3

+4.6

Oakland

Wayne

Dane

Racine

+1.9

-2.3

+5.3

-2.1

2016

2016

8

75

4

68

The same happened in Michigan and Wisconsin. Macomb County, just outside Detroit, voted for Obama twice, but chose Trump this time. Even Detroit itself — in Wayne County — which voted for Clinton, swung to the right compared with Obama’s victories there. Two midsize Wisconsin counties between Milwaukee and Chicago — Racine and Kenosha — voted for Trump. Both ended up voting less Democratic than in 2004.

It’s hard to extrapolate what this continuing urban-rural vote polarization will mean in the future, especially with midsize counties in play. This election may very well prove to be an outlier, or it could represent a realignment in political coalitions.

One thing is certain: This electorate was the most diverse ever, and that trend will continue.

Percent of eligible

voters who are...

ASIAN

HISPANIC

WHITE

BLACK

2000

78

12

7

2

2004

75

12

8

3

2008

73

12

9

3

2012

71

12

11

4

2016

69

12

12

4

Percent of eligible voters who are...

HISPANIC

WHITE

BLACK

ASIAN

2000

78

12

7

2

2004

75

12

8

3

2008

73

12

9

3

2012

71

12

11

4

2016

69

12

12

4

As the country becomes more diverse, the Republican Party could have a harder time winning without more of the nonwhite vote. But it also poses a problem for Democrats. Racking up the popular vote in cities but tanking in rural and suburban areas could result in a repeat of this election: Solid blue states turning red by slim margins.

This demographic shift, in combination with increasing urbanization, may present us with bizarre election scenarios in the future.

Picture this: Texas and Georgia as battleground states in two elections from now.

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