'All politics is local'? Apparently, not anymore

This is a fascinating article in the New York Times about the changing flavor of politics in much of America.

Especially in the sun belt, newcomers from other parts of the country tend to vote based not on local concerns, but on national issues. With no roots in the community, they see politics through the lens created by the internet and cable news nets.

In the newly built communities of DeSoto County in Mississippi, and the fast-growing precincts in such metropolitan Richmond counties as Henrico, Hanover and Chesterfield — what could be called the Chick-fil-A belt — the conservative challengers to the two incumbents led by overwhelming margins.

State Senator Chris McDaniel thrashed Mr. Cochran by 36 percentage points in DeSoto County, the state’s third-largest, a key factor in his edging the incumbent by fewer than 2,000 votes statewide and forcing Mr. Cochran into a runoff. Mr. Cantor lost the suburban population centers of his district by double digits en route to being unseated by David Brat, a conservative economics professor and himself a Virginia transplant.

For all the talk about how partisan polarization is overwhelming Washington, there is another powerful, overlapping force at play: Voters who are not deeply rooted increasingly view politics through a generic national lens.

Friends-and-neighbors elections were already a thing of the past in congressional campaigns. But the axiom that “all politics is local” is increasingly anachronistic when ever-larger numbers of voters have little awareness of what incumbents did for their community in years past and are becoming as informed by cable television, talk radio and the Internet as by local sources of news. In this year’s primaries, the trend is lifting hard-liners, but it has benefited more moderate candidates in general elections.

“They don’t know who the heck Thad is,” said the Republican strategist Karl Rove, of Mississippi’s newly arrived voters. “There is no 40-year history with him, knowing that this is the guy who built up the state’s modern Republican Party. The same with Eric, people who have just gotten to Richmond don’t even know what the House of Delegates is, let alone that he served there.”

Voters in both places were chiefly interested in who would take a hard line against President Obama and most lacked, for example, some long-ago fraternity connection to Mr. Cochran at Ole Miss or a relationship with Mr. Cantor’s politically active parents — the kind of links that once were so important in primary politics.

As the ex-urbs expand to create more affordable housing for the spillover from suburbs closer to the city, the more traditional voter is either pushed out or is bought out. I've seen this phenomenon in the Chicago area as the ex-urbs have now expanded all the way to the Wisconsin border - about 75 miles from the Loop. Filling up formerly green spaces with new subdivisions, malls, and office parks is causing a political shift as well.

Who benefits? Those most passionate about politics on the right and the left. It probably won't make a huge difference this election, but in 2016, the GOP nominee will probably be cognizant of this new reality and seek to exploit it.

This is a fascinating article in the New York Times about the changing flavor of politics in much of America.

Especially in the sun belt, newcomers from other parts of the country tend to vote based not on local concerns, but on national issues. With no roots in the community, they see politics through the lens created by the internet and cable news nets.

In the newly built communities of DeSoto County in Mississippi, and the fast-growing precincts in such metropolitan Richmond counties as Henrico, Hanover and Chesterfield — what could be called the Chick-fil-A belt — the conservative challengers to the two incumbents led by overwhelming margins.

State Senator Chris McDaniel thrashed Mr. Cochran by 36 percentage points in DeSoto County, the state’s third-largest, a key factor in his edging the incumbent by fewer than 2,000 votes statewide and forcing Mr. Cochran into a runoff. Mr. Cantor lost the suburban population centers of his district by double digits en route to being unseated by David Brat, a conservative economics professor and himself a Virginia transplant.

For all the talk about how partisan polarization is overwhelming Washington, there is another powerful, overlapping force at play: Voters who are not deeply rooted increasingly view politics through a generic national lens.

Friends-and-neighbors elections were already a thing of the past in congressional campaigns. But the axiom that “all politics is local” is increasingly anachronistic when ever-larger numbers of voters have little awareness of what incumbents did for their community in years past and are becoming as informed by cable television, talk radio and the Internet as by local sources of news. In this year’s primaries, the trend is lifting hard-liners, but it has benefited more moderate candidates in general elections.

“They don’t know who the heck Thad is,” said the Republican strategist Karl Rove, of Mississippi’s newly arrived voters. “There is no 40-year history with him, knowing that this is the guy who built up the state’s modern Republican Party. The same with Eric, people who have just gotten to Richmond don’t even know what the House of Delegates is, let alone that he served there.”

Voters in both places were chiefly interested in who would take a hard line against President Obama and most lacked, for example, some long-ago fraternity connection to Mr. Cochran at Ole Miss or a relationship with Mr. Cantor’s politically active parents — the kind of links that once were so important in primary politics.

As the ex-urbs expand to create more affordable housing for the spillover from suburbs closer to the city, the more traditional voter is either pushed out or is bought out. I've seen this phenomenon in the Chicago area as the ex-urbs have now expanded all the way to the Wisconsin border - about 75 miles from the Loop. Filling up formerly green spaces with new subdivisions, malls, and office parks is causing a political shift as well.

Who benefits? Those most passionate about politics on the right and the left. It probably won't make a huge difference this election, but in 2016, the GOP nominee will probably be cognizant of this new reality and seek to exploit it.

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