I am curious about the urban-rural divide. While looking into this, I found Vermont. This state is over 90% white and rural yet somehow generally votes Democratic and even houses an Independent senator who is seen as the founding father of the American progressive movement.

Exhibit A: (Source: FiveThirtyEight)

This does not look at population density directly, but it looks at closeness of residents of a state. As I can see, there is only one other state remotely like it: Maine. Even that one voted Democratic by less than five points. I am not focusing on the racial demographics (white people in urban areas also tend to support Democrats), but I am focusing on the population density angle specifically in the US in the 2016 election. Are there any other places like it outside of New England in America?

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    "even houses an Independent senator who is seen as the founding father of the American progressive movement"!?!? William Jennings Bryan is not happy. And Robert La Follette actually won electoral votes as the Conference for Progressive Political Action's candidate in the 1924 US Presidential election.
    – Just Me
    Jun 17, 2020 at 13:21
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    I don't think I understand the distinction being made here between "population density" and "closeness of residents". Do you mean that you would like to compare counties or some smaller geographical unit within states?
    – Brian Z
    Jun 17, 2020 at 13:55
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    What I said earlier makes sense. Do the Black Belt of AL and maybe MS. Jun 17, 2020 at 14:13
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    It's possible that the regional predisposition (NorthEast states tend to be blue) outweighs the traditional philosophy that rural states vote red.
    – Zibbobz
    Jun 17, 2020 at 14:19
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    Related: politics.stackexchange.com/q/49527/130
    – gerrit
    Jun 17, 2020 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


Pretty abnormal, and certainly the best example of an exception to the traditional wisdom of urban/democrat, rural/republican. Using the 2016 state-level results, as well as the results of the rural/urban divide from the 2010 census found here, we can create a similar plot to the one in your question, which shows us Vermont and Maine as the two outliers on the left-hand upper quadrant:

State Urban Percentage of Population Trump Votes Clinton Votes
Maine 38.66 335593 357735
Vermont 38.90 95369 178573

enter image description here

If we instead use the county-level results from here, we can go a little deeper. Performing the same analysis shows the expected trend; the more urban a populace, the more likely it is to vote Democrat. It also allows us to find counties which are outliers like Vermont & Maine, which I have defined as an Urban population smaller than 25%, but which voted by a majority of over 50 points for Clinton in 2016. This gives us the following seven counties, showing that you were correct in your prediction of the black belt of AL & MS producing outliers. The remaining three counties all hold Indian reservations, which seems to be the explanation for this voting pattern.

State County Urban Percentage of Population Trump Votes Clinton Votes
Alabama Greene 0.00 838 4006
Mississippi Claiborne 0.00 414 2523
Mississippi Holmes 13.15 1151 5820
Mississippi Jefferson 0.00 489 3337
South Dakota Oglala Lakota 20.02 241 2504
South Dakota Todd 0.00 487 1505
Wisconsin Menominee 0.00 269 1003

enter image description here

  • It is weird that it is rural. But its racial makeup combined with the rurality is even weirder. Every county in this group CDJB put down is either mostly black or holds a Native American reservation. The only pattern that it is consistent with is the location of the state. Jun 26, 2020 at 17:47

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