In 2016, we wrote that the 2,584 counties that Trump won generated just 36% of the country’s economic output, whereas the 472 counties Hillary Clinton carried equated to almost two-thirds of the nation’s aggregate economy.
A similar analysis for last week’s election shows these trends continuing, albeit with a different political outcome. This time, Biden’s winning base in 477 counties encompasses fully 70% of America’s economic activity, while Trump’s losing base of 2,497 counties represents just 29% of the economy.
So, while the election’s winner may have changed, the nation’s economic geography remains rigidly divided. Biden captured virtually all of the counties with the biggest economies in the country (depicted by the largest blue tiles in the nearby graphic), including flipping the few that Clinton did not win in 2016.
By contrast, Trump won thousands of counties in small-town and rural communities with correspondingly tiny economies (depicted by the red tiles). Biden’s counties tended to be far more diverse, educated, and white-collar professional, with their aggregate nonwhite and college-educated shares of the economy running to 35% and 36%, respectively, compared to 16% and 25% in counties that voted for Trump.
In short, 2020’s map continues to reflect a striking split between the large, dense, metropolitan counties that voted Democratic and the mostly exurban, small-town, or rural counties that voted Republican. Blue and red America reflect two very different economies: one oriented to diverse, often college-educated workers in professional and digital services occupations, and the other whiter, less-educated, and more dependent on “traditional” industries.
There’s more at the link.
Leaving aside the ongoing claims of electoral fraud that might affect the outcome of the election, we’re left with one painfully obvious conclusion. The two sides of America, as identified by their voting patterns, are so far apart in terms of composition, background, education, aspirations, etc. that they not only aren’t talking to each other – they wouldn’t understand each other if they did. That’s potentially disastrous for an allegedly United States. How can there be any real Union when effective, meaningful communication has become almost impossible?
Taking an economic view of the red-and-blue chart above, Charles Hugh Smith points out:
70% of America’s economy is generated in fewer than 500 counties; the other 2,500 counties are left with the remaining 30%. The nation’s productive capital is even more concentrated in a few hands and regions, and since income and political power flow to capital, the financial disparity / inequality far exceed the 70/30 split depicted in this political map.
. . .
America has no plan to reverse this destructive tide. Our leadership’s “plan” is benign neglect: just send a monthly stipend of bread and circuses to all the disempowered, decapitalized households, urban and rural, so they can stay out of trouble and not bother the elites’ continued pillaging of America and the planet.
There’s a lot of big talk about rebuilding infrastructure and the Green New Deal, but our first question must always be: cui bono, to whose benefit? How much of the spending will actually be devoted to changing the rising imbalances between the haves and the have-nots, the ever-richer who profit from rising debt and the ever more decapitalized debt-serfs who are further impoverished by rising debt?
Again, more at the link.
Mr. Smith’s last paragraph poses a very astute question. Look at the likely beneficiaries of the so-called ‘Green New Deal’. They’re overwhelmingly concentrated in the “blue 30%” of counties that supported Joe Biden. They’ll actually cause the “red 70%” of counties to lose money, jobs and opportunities, which will be drained into urban concentrations. Can there be a better recipe for generating anger, frustration and – eventually – backlash in those counties?
That backlash can take many forms. I don’t want to encourage violence and terrorism, so I won’t discuss many of them here; but we’ve seen more than a few already unleashed within our borders. It’s not giving away any secrets to mention the Metcalf sniper attack, or the many other threats to the US power grid and other essential utilities. Almost all such attacks are well within the reach of motivated individuals and groups. Stopping them all will be almost impossible, and effective countermeasures will probably be very expensive – unaffordably and unsustainably so. Every such attack might potentially disrupt the power and/or utility supply to thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people, as well as factories, distribution hubs, transport systems, etc.
I’m already seeing some sources talking about such activities in the context of “resistance”. I can only hope and pray that we haven’t reached that point yet . . . but the signs of the times are not comforting. If Antifa and BLM can get away with urban terrorism, rioting and looting, as they have this past year, you can bet your boots that there are those on the other side of the political fence who are thinking of following their example, and getting creative about it.