Interstate highways and 80s-era shopping malls matter in 2016. Here's why.
Want to know where Republicans live? Look for an even-numbered, three-digit Interstate Highway or a 1980s-era shopping mall--- and here’s why.
If we take a look at any presidential general election map county by county for the last 50 years, one thing is for sure; the Republican Party absolutely dominates rural America. 2012 results show us that a stunning 61% of all rural voters preferred Mitt Romney to incumbent President Barack Obama, a remarkable 14% above what Romney received overall.
Now, let’s take the 2010 census total of approximately 59,000,000 rural Americans, and assume that every single one of them voted republican in 2012-- we still barely reach Romney’s popular vote threshold of nearly 61,000,000. Of course, not every rural American is a registered voter (or even eligible for that matter), and 39% of rural Americans actually did not vote Republican in 2012, thus we are left with a burning question-- Where do the rest of Republicans live? Using a little knowledge of infrastructure, retail, and fundamental political belief, it is not as hard to answer as we may think.
Before we should ask, “What the hell do roads and malls have to do with politics?" we should knock out a few basic facts of Interstate Highway knowledge. We’ll get to malls in a bit. Plenty of people are already aware that the odd numbered Interstates run North and South, while the evens run East and West. This would be an awesome and essential piece of information if we were embarking on an epic road trip to Los Angeles without a GPS, but we’re not.
What we should be concerned with are the Interstates with three digits that are much shorter and closer to our nation’s cities. The three-digit Auxiliary Interstates that start with odd numbers spur into our cities, and those that begin with even numbers surround, or often circumvent them. A prime example would be our nation’s capital; “The Beltway” (Interstate 495) surrounds the metropolis, while the Center Leg Freeway (Interstate 395) cuts through the heart of the city, abruptly dumping thousands of automobiles onto New York Avenue at its end.
It is these even-numbered-beginning, triple-digit-labeled expressways that provide bypasses for our cities. If built completely as originally envisioned, these highways would paint clear borders around American urban spaces as they were in the 1960s and 1970s, and many do. After the completion of these roads, if you possessed an automobile, you could completely avoid inner-city life as it became crafted “outside the beltway”.
Now here’s where malls come in. A shopping mall is, in essence, the urban shopping experience for a suburban resident; someone with a car. It is somehow both necessity and luxury to use expressways thanks to the car; Spending money at an enclosed shopping mall is therefore a purely suburban experience. While these roads opened for business in the late 60s and early 70s, many important regional shopping centers car-owners cherish opened in no decade other than the 80s.
So, that’s it? Republicans are suburbanites from the last 30 years who happen to own cars? Essentially, yes. A car is rather than a tool, an expensive and luxurious extension of oneself that doubles as a transportation device. Republicans, who beginning in the 80s with the advent of the Reagan administration, grew up adhering to the lessons of conservatism and personal prosperity. What better to do than form new communities away from the corruption and crime of the inner-cities, where owning a car and a home with a large lawn could be attributed to the results of personal successes?
This is not to say that all “Interstate suburbs” are predominantly Republican, or that all inner cities are predominantly Democratic, because that is not what we are trying to solve in the first place; We just wanted to know where the rest of Republicans live.
So, why care? Is this even useful? Well, of course it is. If Donald Trump were to want to make an attempt at garnering votes in an otherwise traditionally non-Republican area, I would advise him not to do so in a venue near an even-numbered Auxiliary highway or a 1980s shopping mall. If you need a car to get there, chances are, many of those people are already voting for him. Where does my principle work best? The South and the Midwest-- precisely the places a Republican must dominate to capture the free world’s highest office.