First off, there is Florida. Heavily Hispanic, highly mobile, culturally diverse - is the new U.S.Nearly one in five residents in Florida define themselves as Hispanic in ethnic origin, according to Census estimates.Partially as a result of the well-known elderly population in the Sunshine State, the demographics of the area also speak to a unique family pattern.Residents of Florida are more likely to share a home with non-relative householders and unmarried partners.They are more likely to live in non-family households, and less likely to live in families characterized as married couples with children. That said, characterizing Florida is nearly impossible.The statistics of the state as a whole lie about who the average citizen is.Cuban family? Mid-western retiree? What is clear is that the population is diverse - nearly 50% of the population was born outside the state.With so many having so recently relocated, Florida is a modern melting pot.A divide in political opinion is not unexpected.
Ohio and Pennsylvania?
The mixing in their melting pot stopped many years ago.While there was a time when the German, English, Polish and Irish populations may have separated like oil and water, time has joined those populations into a stable mix.Ohio and Pennsylvania are sibling states, sharing the same set of basic demographic characteristics. Eleven million residents, mostly white - 10% more than the US average -- with the remainder of the population being mostly Black.They are not Hispanic. They are not Asian.And they are not transplants from another county, state or even country.Even with apologies to the somewhat more diverse populations of Philadelphia, Cleveland and Pittsburg, the image many have of these two states - farms and factories, country roads surrounding 'tired' urban centers, has not changed in many years.
Given the apparent homogeneity of the sibling states, the divide on political opinion may seem strange.
Currently the Ohio Poll, sponsored by the
Using the neighborhood classification system designed by MapInfo, we profiled
As with all of the PSYTE Advantage segments, the names of these neighborhood types are meant to be evocative.A moment of reflection on each is nearly enough to create a strong sense of place in the mind.'Rust Belt Blues' are neighborhoods with an older population living in older homes, those built in the 50's and 40's.They work in jobs that are related to manufacturing and production, and have a household income that ranks 25% below the
The residents of these neighborhoods are exactly the small city workers that once voted exclusively for the Democratic Party.These are also the voters who may be most torn in their loyalties today.The Ohio Poll notes that the voters in Ohio see the key issues in this election as being foreign policy and the economy.In fact, voters are split evenly at approximately 27% on which issue is more important.Healthcare is the next most important issue, followed by key cultural issues, including abortion, education and gay marriage.
With unemployment higher over the last five years than at any time in the last 10 years, the economy is a strong concern.We can assume, without certainty, that the factory workers in this neighborhood type are still likely to vote along union lines and will support the Democratic Party, if not Kerry himself, when it comes to the economy.But, if the economy is the number 1 issue for only 27% of
On the Quiet Streets nearby, income is higher, educational attainment is greater, and a greater percentage of residents are likely to have white-collar jobs, although nearly 50% are still employed in manufacturing. These residents are also likely to live in married couple families with kids present in their homes, 23% of which were built before 1939.For these voters, issues related to both the economy and homeland security seem very close to home.The married females in this cluster have school-age children.As a result, they may fall into the category of 'Security Moms,' women between 30 and 40 who will vote primarily on issues related to terrorism and crime.For these voters, Bush is a powerful choice.However, in these homes, with youngish, educated parents, Republican Party decisions on cultural issues may not ring quite as true.Many of the husbands and wives who live on these quiet streets went to college in nearby
Even the Empty Nesters in this area are likely to be split with regard to which candidate is best for them.Married couples with children out of the house care about their money.The Empty Nest East population, primarily married, college educated, homeowners, in some cases with dual incomes, make them slightly wealthier that the US average.However, these neighborhoods skew slightly older than the image the name evokes.For every few householders still earning an income, there is at least one household where the primary earner has retired.These folks worry even more about their dollars. Their older home on a tree-lined street may be their most significant financial asset, and as the economy around them slows down and home values stumble, they may worry about their cash flow.The promise of Medicare and Social Security payments is important to them, and each party's statements regarding the future of their monthly checks are listened to intently.Given the older nature of these neighborhoods, a vote for Bush is not guaranteed.Each hint Kerry drops about the imperiled future of the social security fund under the watch of a republican administration pushes at least a few of these voters further from Bush.For that reason, these neighborhoods are likely to be divided.The candidates' views on economics will strike a very direct chord with those retired and nearing so.
A search of
Using MapInfo software and the PSYTE Advantage data, we were able to rank counties in
Given this information, the Bush campaign should feel good about the areas that fall into their general comfort zone - small cities and rural area.Also, obviously, the larger urban areas are less worth pursuing. That leaves the middle ground open.
Lackawanna and Luzerne counties may represent that middle ground best.Over the last two weeks, Bush has visited the Scranton / Wilkes-Barre region twice.Although Bush lost Luzerne to Gore in 2000 by a margin of 9% and Lackawanna by 25%, his team clearly feels the area, with almost 200,000 plus voters, is worth an investment in 2004.This could be because the area's demographics lend themselves to the hope that Democratic Party voters and their historical support may be slipping.With nearly 100,000 voters, the impact of a win in Lackawanna County would be pronounced.
The three demographic groups most prevalent in
The major population areas of the area are
As stated earlier, the Rust Belt Blues will be split. Cultural issues and foreign policy will fracture their historical Democratic Party preference.
In Village Americana, for every two owner occupied homes, there is one rented - usually a two unit rental or a mobile home.While 15% of the population does have a bachelor's degree, that is 50% less than the national average, and 18% of the population has no high school diploma.It is easy to glorify the quiet streets, the antique store, and the charm of the locally owned filling station or convenience store, but the charm is a mask for an economically declining area that often has little hope for rebound.
In these areas economic dissatisfaction may be too intense for any single party to be blamed.However, the blame will be felt and it will be bitter.Some will blame wealthy Republicans whose policies towards farms and workers may be unsatisfactory.Others will blame the Democratic party residents of nearby cities, where 'all our taxes go.' Another feeling as intense as economic dissatisfaction will be patriotic pride.The residents of these towns are likely to support the military, feverishly.Yellow ribbons, red-white-and-blue car decals, these are regular adornments here.Kerry's ability to convince the voters in these towns that he can be tough against
In the end, the swing states will be won by victories in swing pockets of demographic divide.
The cities will go to Kerry.The farms will go to Bush.The small towns of