"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Politics and Population Density: Are the Number of People Per Square Mile the Most Determinative Factor in Political Election Voting?

The upcoming 2016 U.S. Presidential Election is currently all about personalities and issues, but are those the most determinative items for voting behavior?

What if it turned out that population densities determine the winner of the Presidential election at least as much as any other factor?

The traditional manner of pigeonholing political parties, candidates and platforms into a single point of view about any political issue is not well suited to the actual realities of our world, which, it would seem, require geographic differentiation. The division of the political landscape of the United States into red and blue States is a good example.

Take Nebraska, a red State, where the present writer grew up, for example, which always votes massively for Republican Party candidates in Presidential elections (sometimes giving them the greatest percentage majorities of any U.S. State) and yet at the same time has elected a number of Governors of the State from the Democratic Party. How is that to be explained?

We have several good friends from Nebraska with whom we correspond now and then about political matters and they are divided equally as regards Republican Party and Democratic Party allegiance and we share a lot of their views - on BOTH sides of the political fence! How is that possible?

We think the answers to both questions above are rooted in a politically neutral appreciation of the impact of geographic differentiation, e.g. on the example of population densities.

As Dave Troy at http://davetroy.com/posts/the-real-republican-adversary-population-density wrote about the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election:
"At about 800 people per square mile, people switch from voting primarily Republican to voting primarily Democratic. Put another way, below 800 people per square mile, there is a 66% chance that you voted Republican. Above 800 people per square mile, there is a 66% chance that you voted Democrat. A 66% preference is a clear, dominant majority." [emphasis added]
Except for its two largest metropolitan areas, Omaha and Lincoln, the State of Nebraska is sparsely populated and subsists primarily as farm or ranch country, with even Omaha, e.g. having the largest stockyards in the nation (at least they were so in my day), famous to most readers indirectly via "Omaha Steaks".

Who is not familiar with the "agrarian-named" Cornhuskers of Lincoln? The cities in Nebraska too have a strong connection to farming and ranching, professions that are predominantly rural, i.e. "conservative" politically.

As I argue to my friends in Nebraska, it is entirely consistent to support  conservative views INSIDE predominantly rural Nebraska because they work demonstrably well there, but, at the same time to argue that those views do not necessarily work demonstrably well in large urban areas, which have many other kinds of problems, and where other solutions may be required.

In other words, one can, without great contradiction, be a conservative in and for Nebraska, but perhaps at the same time support liberal views in and for a heavily urbanized State such as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida, or even strongly agrarian or ranch-oriented but heavily populated Status such as California or Texas.

To demonstrate the importance of geographic differentiation, let us take as an example  a "relatively non-partisan" if also sometimes very political issue, the building of roads and highways, which is a good example if only because the lady Senator from Nebraska comes from a family with expertise in this area.

How many roads and highways do we need where and in what quality?

In Germany, our domicile in a grape-growing region, even many single-track vineyard roads are paved (against mud and dust) as are virtually all roads in this heavily populated country of ca. 81 million people on ca. 138000 square miles of land -- a population density of ca. 585 persons per square mile.

By contrast, the U.S.A. has ca. 322 million people on ca. 3.8 million square miles of land -- a population density of ca. 85 persons per square mile.

Germany is thus 7 times more populous per square mile than the U.S.A., a demographic fact which has enormous consequences on all kinds of practical political issues including roads and highways.

Nebraska has 77+ thousand square miles of surface, i.e. more than half the size of Germany, but with only ca. 1.9 million people, for a population density of only 24 persons per square mile, so that Nebraska is ca. 24 times less populous per square mile than Germany.

In terms of road building, the U.S.A. has ca. 10 times the length of roads that Germany has but for only ca. 4 times the number of  people -- on ca. 28 times more land. Think of the cost of building roads.

It is thus no wonder that many country roads in the USA are gravel and not paved. Rural areas can live with that. Urban areas can not. It is neither a partisan nor a political issue but one of simple practicality and costs, as determined by population density and the amount of traffic.

A similar analysis will apply to many political issues.


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Native American Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds
Deciphered as Land Survey & Astronomy by Andis Kaulins

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