Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Why rural voters don’t vote Democratic anymore

The Washington Post reports:
U.S. Rep. Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota is one of the last members of a dying breed: the rural conservative Democrat. He has represented Minnesota's 7th Congressional District for a quarter-century, since 1991. The district encompasses most of the western half of the state. It's farm country, a broad swath of fields and open prairie running from the South Dakota border all the way up to Canada.

The people Peterson represents are overwhelmingly white and moderately conservative. According to the Cook Political Report, Peterson was one of nine Democrats sent to Congress from a district that voted for Romney in 2012.

Most counties in Peterson's district swung hard toward Trump this year, by margins of 20, 30, 40 percentage points or more. But Peterson himself still earned 52.5 percent of the vote, enough to head to Congress for a 14th term.

In a conversation with The Washington Post, Peterson said that Donald Trump owes his victory to rural voters who feel they've been abandoned by a Democratic Party that has become increasingly urban and liberal. That abandonment has happened in part because of Republican efforts to gerrymander Democratic voters into tightly packed urban districts, he said. Few Democratic lawmakers now represent rural districts such as Peterson's, where voters care more about agricultural policy and trade than they do about gun control, LGBT issues or questions about minority representation.

Unless Democrats are able to regain control of governorships and statehouses before the 2020 Census to “un-gerrymander” the districts, that dynamic's not likely to change, no matter what policy proposals Democrats put on the table.
You'll want to read the entire interview to understand the 2016 election.