Daily Bread for 8.17.21: Decline in Trump-Supporting America

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 80. Sunrise is 6:04 AM and sunset 7:52 PM, for 13h 48m 01s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 70.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Common Council meets at 6:30 PM.

 On this day in 1945, George Orwell’s novella Animal Farm is published.

Jordan Weissman writes The Census shows that vast stretches of America are shrinking. Almost all of them voted for Donald Trump (Ninety percent of counties that lost population in the last decade backed the ex-president’):

Donald Trump and the Republican Party he shaped represent the fading face of the United States, winning over an older, more rural, and overwhelmingly caucasian bloc of voters that reflected the country’s past more than its more urban and diverse future.

The latest data from the 2020 Census, which the government released on Thursday to kick off the congressional redistricting process, illustrate that fact in incredibly stark terms. It shows that the white population fell for the first time in history during the last decade, and that Americans continued to cluster in growing cities and suburbs, whether in Texas, Georgia, Virginia, or New York.

Perhaps most strikingly, while metro areas grew, vast stretches of the country continued to bleed population. About 53 percent of all U.S. counties shrank between 2010 and 2020. You can see them in the sea of burnt orange on the graph below, rural regions and small towns that often have few residents to begin with. In total, they were home to about 50.5 million people in a nation of more than 331 million.


Given what we already knew about Trump’s base of support, it seemed likely that most of these emptying counties voted Republican in the last election. But how many, exactly? Mark Muro of the Metropolitan Policy Project at Brookings ran the numbers for me. He found that, in the 1,636 counties that shrank during the 2010s, the former president won a majority of votes in 90 percent of them. (Muro’s team had to exclude Alaska from its numbers because of a technical glitch.) If a corner of America is depopulating, it is almost certainly part of Trump country.

This is not to say that Trump country on the whole is in decline. The former president only received about 19 percent of his 74 million votes from counties with shrinking populations, according to Muro and his team’s analysis. Overall, the counties where he won added 7.8 million people during the previous decade. But Biden counties nearly doubled that total, expanding by 14.9 million individuals. Blue America is driving America’s population growth.

But the fact that places with diminishing populations so overwhelmingly backed our last president is one more data point in a bigger story about how the country has been polarizing between thriving metros dominated by Democrats and increasingly conservative communities that are either growing more slowly than major cities or are in outright decline. This is true both demographically and economically (though of course those things are intertwined). The Metropolitan Policy Project has previously found, for instance, that Biden counties generated 70 percent of the country’s GDP. “Republican counties represent a waning, traditional economic base, situated in struggling small towns and rural areas,” Muro told me. “And the Census story underscores the sense that growth, in the most literal sense, is somewhere else. Prosperity is out of reach.”

Emphasis added.

Decline, however, comes in one of two ways: absolute or relative. Absolute decline in population is easy to see: there are fewer people. Relative decline, of people or productivity, is more subtle: one slips slowly from a national standard. The gap from year to year may seem small; look back a decade and that gap is evident.

The MAGA crowd impoverishes its own communities.  The answer – one that many of these communities will not choose – is to turn away from Trumpism.

Massive Cargo Ship Splits in Half Near Japan:

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments