Track: Iowa Caucus Returns
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
The map on this page shows not only who’s winning in each of the state’s 99 counties, but, using Patchwork Nation, it shows how the candidates are doing in each of Iowa’s eight types of county – from the wealthy Monied Burbs to the rural agricultural Tractor Country counties. It will fill in with data as the results from the caucuses come in.
What this map means:
It’s easy to beat up Iowa, to criticize the power it has in the presidential selection process every four years. It’s not representative of the nation at large in terms of demography. And the influence of agriculture on the state economy often means it’s out of step with what’s happening nationally.
But there are also lessons and insights out of the quadrennial caucus vote – particularly if you go beyond who wins and loses and look at what examines in a broader context. Patchwork Nation, a reporting project that breaks the nation into 12 demographic/geographic types along county lines offers some insights.
The map on this page shows not only who’s in winning in each of the state’s 99 counties, but, using Patchwork Nation, it shows how the candidates are doing in each of Iowa’s eight types of county – from the wealthy Monied Burbs to the rural agricultural Tractor Country counties. It will fill in with data as the results from the caucuses come in.
Consider this a primer to reading this map and understanding the some of the broader messages out of Tuesday night’s results. Much will depend on who actually comes out to vote, but these are some of the basic themes to watch.
Winning the Burbs: There are only four Monied Burb counties in Iowa (around Des Moines in the state’s center and in the west near Omaha, NE), but in 2008 they produced 26 percent of all the caucus votes. In 2012, they could be good territory for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. The Burbs, which are wealthier than average, tend to be less focused on cultural issues like gay marriage and more on the economy. They should be Romney’s strong suit.
If Texas Congressman Ron Paul wins in the Burbs, it means populist anger in these counties is running high.
In 2008, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won the Burbs. While there was a lot of focus on Huckabee’s Evangelical credentials in 2008, he won a broad victory in the state. His populist anti-Washington/Wall Street talk was a big reason why.
Big Vote in the Graying Counties: The biggest turnout in the 2008 caucuses came from the state’s 56 Emptying Nest counties, some 36,000 attendees. Those counties are typified by large populations of people 55 and over and in Iowa in particular tend to be pretty culturally conservative. If Romney does well in these counties, it’s a good night for him.
But this could be where we see the impact of the “Santorum surge” of the last few days – that former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. But He also could lose votes here to Ron Paul or other cultural conservative candidates such as Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Evangelicals and Farmers: The counties we call Tractor Country and the Evangelical Epicenters, are by far the most the culturally conservative counties in the state overall. They went heavily for Mike Huckabee in 2008. Expect them to be good for Rick Santorum (or Bachmann or Perry) tonight.
There aren’t a lot of votes here – only about 8,100 in 2008 – but there are worth watching for their reaction to Mitt Romney. Romney, with his Wall Street background and his Mormon faith, is not necessarily a great fit for many voters in these counties. If he does better than he did in 2008 – where he got about 17 percent of the vote in these counties – that would be a win for him.
We’ll check in later to see how the vote shakes out. In the meantime watch and click on this map to do you own analysis.