Data Wonk

Trump, Evers and Urban ‘Cesspools’

Trump's hatred of cities might help explain how metro area residents voted in November.

By - Nov 25th, 2022 10:49 am
Milwaukee Center from City Hall. Photo taken September 23rd, 2012 by Erik Ljung.

Milwaukee Center from City Hall. Photo taken September 23rd, 2012 by Erik Ljung.

Last week’s Data Wonk column addressed the connection between politics and nearness to a large city, namely Milwaukee. It turned out that the further voters live from the center of Milwaukee the more Republican their views. The column compared the percentage of votes for Governor Tony Evers in communities scattered about three counties, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, and Waukesha, as a function of those communities’ distance from the city of Milwaukee.

To more fully test and illustrate this, the chart below combines the results for the three counties. Communities in Milwaukee County are shown in blue, Ozaukee in red, and Waukesha in green. The dashed yellow shows the trend line (based on a second order polynomial).

The coefficient of variation R2 is commonly interpreted as giving the percentage of the variation in one variable that is explained by the variation in the other variable. With an R2 of .78, this means that 78% of the variation in the percentage vote for Evers reflects the variation in each municipality’s distance to Milwaukee.

Evers Percentage vs. Distance from Milwaukee

Evers Percentage vs. Distance from Milwaukee

Both the plot and the high coefficient of determination suggest the relationship is a real one. However, its source is a mystery.

Here’s one possible theory: As I was finishing last week’s column Donald Trump announced he would run for the presidency again in 2024. His speech repeated tropes he’s used before, describing a nation in ruin that is personified by urban areas.

“We are a nation in decline,” Trump declared. “We are a failing nation.”

Again and again, Trump returned to this theme:

“Our country was great. Our country is not great anymore.”

“For millions of Americans, the past two years under Joe Biden have been a time of pain, hardship, anxiety, and despair.”

“The citizens of our country have not yet realized the full extent and gravity of the pain our nation is going through.”

“I believe the American people will overwhelmingly reject the left’s platform of national ruin.”

Having established that the alternative to Trump is national ruin, Trump turns to the cities:

“The blood-soaked streets of our once-great cities are cesspools of violent crimes which are being watched all over the world as leadership of other countries explain that this is what America and democracy is really all about.”

“The cities are rotting, and they are indeed cesspools of blood.”

He promises help to the nation’s cities, whether they want it or not:

“I will restore public safety in American cities and other communities that need our help, and if they don’t want our help, we’re going to insist that they take our help.”

In summary, Trump offers a vision of a paradise lost. One that was briefly restored by his brilliantly successful administration, featuring “the greatest economy in the history of the world.” And needs to be restored once again. “… I’ve gone decades, decades without a war. The first president to do it for that long a period.”

Perhaps it makes sense that Trump’s vision of cities as “cesspools of blood” finds its greatest acceptance among people with the least contact with contemporary cities.

Categories: Data Wonk, Politics, Weekly

2 thoughts on “Data Wonk: Trump, Evers and Urban ‘Cesspools’”

  1. blurondo says:

    Another way to interprate the chart is, racism is the root of everything.

  2. mkwagner says:

    Absolutely, racism is at the root of our problems. Here’s the kicker, the candidates who most often play the race card are older white republicans. Check out Ron Jon’s campaign. He used racist images to scare those living the furthest away from inner cities. His images were deeply seeded in the racial fears peddled by the white uber wealthy master caste. In fact, some of campaign ads seem to come directly out of Antebellum and Jim Crow South.
    This has been going on for 300+ years. The reason? For the wealthiest Americans to maintain their dominance of our economic, legal, and political institutions, it is essential to keep the working poor divided pitting one segment against the other. They racism and classism in equal measures to keep both segments blaming the other for their poverty. By stoking racial fears, Ron Jon and his ilk ensure that the poor will not rise up together as they did during Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676.

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