26 September 2022

The immense urban/rural divide in modern politics. And some interesting cannabis attitudes.


In 2018 I wrote a post for the blog entitled "Blue dot in a red state," illustrating how the metropolitan areas of Minnesota voted overwhelmingly blue (Democratic), while the rest of the state voted overwhelmingly red (Republican).  The phenomenon clearly exists nationwide.

This week the StarTribune reported the results of a statewide poll that covered a variety of topics, but most importantly the upcoming midterms.  I've embedded one salient chart at the top.  Hennepin and Ramsey counties comprise the bulk of the metropolitan Minneapolis/St. Paul area.  Tim Walz is the currently-seated Democratic governor.  His support is intense in the cities, but not in the rest of the state. 

This is also interesting - and perhaps surprising:


In the past two years, support for legalization of recreational marijuana has increased among Democrats and Independents and fallen among Republicans, which is perhaps not surprising.  But support for legal recreational cannabis has also fallen among those age 18-34 and 35-49 years of age, while rising among older Minnesotans. Not sure how to explain that.  

24 comments:

  1. The 100th meridian is roughly Winnipeg through San Antonio. 250 million Americans live in the wetter east of the line and 80 million in the dryer west. From the 80 million subtract 50 million living along the wetter west coast. The dry area with its 30 million Americans encompasses 8 states and parts of 9 more. That’s 16 + Senators for less than 10% of the population. 10 of the 30 million live in Phoenix, Denver and Vegas. Another 5 million live in Salt Lake, Tucson, Albuquerque, El Paso, & Boise. So half the 30 million dry area folks live in a city or burbs.
    xoxoxoBruce

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  2. "Blue dot in a red state"

    Land doesn't vote. People do.

    Also, people in cities interact more with people they don't know and are therefore more tolerant of others.

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    1. "Also, people in cities interact more with people they don't know and are therefore more tolerant of others."

      Ha, ha, ha, Good one. Oh wait, you weren't being sarcastic? Oh...

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    2. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/11/red-state-blue-city-how-the-urban-rural-divide-is-splitting-america/265686/

      (note paragraph three)

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  3. Just wondering, what does "DFL" mean in the second graph?

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    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Democratic%E2%80%93Farmer%E2%80%93Labor_Party

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    2. Thanks. I read the article the graphs are from, but it did not clarify the DFL. Now I know. Interesting that HHH was one of "Founders" of the party.

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  4. The biggest issue with this trend is that states without the smallest population will be in control of the Senate. This urban/rural divide will provide a durable problem to passage of legislation.

    Pull quote: It is estimated that 83% of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, up from 64% in 1950. By 2050, 89% of the U.S. population and 68% of the world population is projected to live in urban areas."

    https://css.umich.edu/publications/factsheets/built-environment/us-cities-factsheet#:~:text=It%20is%20estimated%20that%2083,to%20live%20in%20urban%20areas.

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    1. I wpuld argue this fufills the intent of the founding fathers. You don't really want it to be too easy to pass legislation.

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    2. Maybe so. I also don't think much of our governance today would be understood by the founders. Ladies vote! Jefferson wrote about new constitutions being drafted every 19 years. I think that, in historical review of the timing of amendments, we find the the kernel of this thought. The Constitution is an amazing documents.

      https://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/thomas-jefferson-on-whether-the-american-constitution-is-binding-on-those-who-were-not-born-at-the-time-it-was-signed-and-agreed-to-1789

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    3. You don't really want it to be too easy to pass legislation.

      Why not?
      Don't you want a responsive government?

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  5. Wyoming, with less than 600,000 people, has just as much power in the Senate as California with almost 40,000,000. It is ridiculous to call the U.S. a democracy with that kind of government structure. All of the other ironies and peculiarities of urban vs. rural, rich vs. poor, etc. pale in comparison. It is the American version of the House of Lords.

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    1. The US is not a democracy. It is a representative republic. If it truly was a democracy, all major decisions would be made by New York, California and Illinois, where the majority of population is. Since I live in Fly-over country, I would not like that situation.

      The Senate provides equal representation for each state, while the House provides representation by population. This is why Wyoming only has one representative in the House, and California has 52.

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    2. The House *used to* provide representation by population. That changed with The Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929. California is now grossly underrepresented in the House in comparison with Wyoming.

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    3. "California is now grossly underrepresented in the House in comparison with Wyoming."

      Using that reasoning, one could state that Delaware and Idaho are grossly underrepresented in the House compared to California.

      In fact, according to the 2020 census, the average population per constituent in the 50 states is 761,169. This number practically matches the average per representative number in California (39,613,000/52 = 761,788). There are 25 states with a higher average than California, 24 with a lower average. California has 11.93% of the US total population and 11.95% of the members of the House of Representatives.

      Hard to argue that California is underrepresented when they have 52 votes on any proposed spending bill and Wyoming has 1.

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    4. Your numbers, while correct, don't dispute my statement. For California to have equal representation in the House vis a vis Wyoming, it would have to have 68 reps to Wyoming's 1. The point is, capping the House at the arbitrary limit of 435 was a bad idea and should be repealed.

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    5. Why do you choose Wyoming as the benchmark? Because they have the lowest population? The Constitution gave a minimum of 1 Representative to each state, which seems reasonable. It does not cite a method to use for apportionment for representation beyond the 1 per state, though it did include "only counting "free persons" and "three-fifths of all other persons," The method of apportionment has been left to Congress.

      The number 435 was established by the Apportionment Act of 1911. If the method used to determine that number in 1911 (the Webster Method) was still used today, the House would have over 1000 members. The Permanent Act of 1929 was the last of five different Acts used to determine apportionment since the first census in 1790. It used the number from the 1911 Act. The method used since 1941 (Huntington–Hill Method) is commonly called the method of equal proportions. It is not based on a benchmark number (population), rather it uses a multiplier.


      * "Each of the 50 states is given one seat out of the current total of 435. The next, or 51st seat, goes to the state with the highest priority value and becomes that state's second seat. This continues until all 435 seats have been assigned to a state. "

      The multiplier equals:
      1 divided by the square root of n(n-1)
      [which is called the reciprocal of the geometric mean]. Computing these values is quite easy using a computer with spreadsheet software (such as Excel).

      Thus the formula for calculating the multiplier for the second seat is:
      1 divided by the square root of 2(2-1)
      or 1/1.414213562 or 0.70710678

      the multiplier for the third seat is:
      1 divided by the square root of 3(3-1)
      1/2.449489743 or 0.40824829

      and so on.
      *(source: https://www.census.gov/topics/public-sector/congressional-apportionment/about/computing.html)

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    6. "...capping the House at the arbitrary limit of 435 was a bad idea and should be repealed."

      The number is not arbitrary. It was not chosen by chance nor was it chosen by the same legislative body that used the Webster Method to arrive at 435, as mentioned in the previous post.

      "For California to have equal representation in the House vis a vis Wyoming, it would have to have 68 reps to Wyoming's 1"

      For California to have equal representation in the house vis a vis Delaware, it would have to have 37 reps to Delaware's 1. Sounds fair...

      The most significant result of the The Reapportionment Act of 1929 was that it allowed states to draw districts of varying size and shape, doing away with the previous requirement that congressional districts be contiguous, compact, and equally populated. It also allowed states to abandon districts altogether and elect at least some representatives at large, which several states chose to do, including New York, Illinois, Washington, Hawaii, and New Mexico. In the 88th Congress (in the early 1960s) 22 of the 435 representatives were elected at-large. The Uniform Congressional District Act (1967) eliminated the at-large election of representatives.

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    7. About the flyover country mentioned above: I don't recall anyone ever calling Texas and Florida flyover states, and they are the center of recent extremist shenanigans. They both have bigger populations than New York and Illinois which were specifically pointed to. Facts matter.

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  6. Regarding the "[n]ot sure how to explain that" comment, 800 people isn't a very big sample size. It's easy to imagine all sorts of sources of sampling error and, wihtout seeing a distribution of how those 800 are spread across these age ranges, that shouldn't inpsire much confidence in drawing strong conclusions from this data.

    The stated error on its own, for instance, virtually eliminates confidence that there's been any demographic change for men and/or for the 35-49 age range.

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    1. As long as the survey is random, 800 people is a valid number. You seldom want to survey more than about 1000. The margin of error for n = 1000 is 3%, and for n = 400 is 5%, so 3.5% is about right for n = 800, with a confidence level of 95%. Note that the number surveyed for the 2020 poll was the same, so the poll would be deemed reliable. If you see a poll with a margin of error less than 3%, the confidence level is likely to be less than 90%.

      The confidence level means that if you conducted the poll 100 times, the results would be within the margin of error 95 out of 100 times.

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    2. 800 people isn't the problem. Dividing any number of people into four arbitrary age groups would need explanation to pass through peer review. I'm a public health researcher, and I'd expect to be asked to: show the distribution of respondents by age; stratify those respondents according to their representation in the population (which I assume here is the population of just one state); and justify my use of the age-range cutoffs. Especially following a pandemic that's had disproportionate impact according to age, this kind of data presentation is what you get in the press but wouldn't fly in a professional journal.

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  7. " But support for legal recreational cannabis has also fallen among those age 18-34 and 35-49 years of age, while rising among older Minnesotans. Not sure how to explain that. "
    It hurts growing older.
    Cannabis and CBDs help alleviate some of this, where as western meds cost a lot and can have serious side effects

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  8. The reason younger people aren't for legalization is that they've seen what legalization of marijuana like playing cards on a sinking ship. Whilst older people are just coming around to the idea and not so worried about what it leads to, considering they aren't gonna be around to see what happens.

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