November 22, 2004


GOP Plants Flag on New Voting Frontier: Bush's huge victory in the fast-growing areas beyond the suburbs alters the political map. (Ronald Brownstein and Richard Rainey, November 22, 2004, LA Times)

The center of the Republican presidential coalition is moving toward the distant edges of suburbia.

In this month's election, President Bush carried 97 of the nation's 100 fastest-growing counties, most of them "exurban" communities that are rapidly transforming farmland into subdivisions and shopping malls on the periphery of major metropolitan areas.

Together, these fast-growing communities provided Bush a punishing 1.72 million vote advantage over Democrat John F. Kerry, according to a Times analysis of election results. That was almost half the president's total margin of victory.

"These exurban counties are the new Republican areas, and they will become increasingly important to Republican candidates," said Terry Nelson, the political director for Bush's reelection campaign. "This is where a lot of our vote is."

These growing areas, filled largely with younger families fleeing urban centers in search of affordable homes, are providing the GOP a foothold in blue Democratic-leaning states and solidifying the party's control over red Republican-leaning states.

They also represent a compounding asset whose value for the Republican Party has increased with each election: Bush's edge in these 100 counties was almost four times greater than the advantage they provided Bob Dole, the Republican presidential nominee eight years ago.

In states like Ohio, Minnesota and Virginia, Republican strength in these outer suburbs is offsetting Democratic gains over the last decade in more established — and often more affluent — inner-tier suburbs. As Democrats analyze a demoralizing defeat in this month's presidential election, one key question they face is whether they can reduce the expanding Republican advantage on the new frontier between suburbs and countryside.

The frightening thing for Democrats has to be that the relignment hasn't even quite reached the Tipping Point yet.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 22, 2004 8:44 AM

So what happened in NH? The exit polls stated that 52 percent of those relocating from MA voted for Bush. Exit polls should be abolished for starters for they serve no purpose other than the pollsters predilections at best, or their purposes ... the best bet.

Posted by: genecis at November 22, 2004 9:53 AM

Fascinating article at the NY Times Who Lost Ohio? on the ACT effort to turn out the vote in Ohio. The Republican strength in the exburbs went totally below the Dems radar screen; they thought they would win Ohio easily based on the turn out in the old cities.

"For Democrats, this new phenomenon on Election Day felt like some kind of horror movie, with conservative voters rising up out of the hills and condo communities in numbers the Kerry forces never knew existed. 'They just came in droves,' Jennifer Palmieri told me two days after the election. 'We didn't know they had that room to grow. It's like, 'Crunch all you want -- we'll make more.' They just make more Republicans.'"

Posted by: jd watson at November 22, 2004 10:32 AM

Must be like a bad zombie movie to the donkeys.

Posted by: AML at November 22, 2004 12:19 PM