Counties won by Democratic President-elect Joe Biden account for 70 percent of total U.S. economic output – or gross domestic product (GDP) – according to a new post-election study.
Biden has repeated the phrase “There are no blue or red states, only the United States” in several appeals to President Donald Trump’s voters since his appointment as president-elect on Saturday. But the more than 75.6 million votes Biden won in the 2020 election led him to victory in almost all of the country’s 100 most powerful local economies. Meanwhile, Trump constituencies account for less than one-third of the country’s economic output, according to a study by the Brookings Institution. The president’s unsuccessful bid for reelection depended on his promotion of the economy before the pandemic. But his railing against urban areas as “criminally contaminated” rather than as centers of American wealth only allowed him to accumulate more voters from rural areas.
“The Trump’s losing base of 2,497 counties represents only 29% of the economy,” according to the coauthors of the post-election analysis.
Brookings Senior Fellow Mark Muro said on Newsday Thursday in Washington that Biden won 94 of the largest gross domestic product counties, while Trump won only six: New York’s Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Collin County in Texas, Kern County in California, and Tulsa and Oklahoma Counties in Oklahoma.
In Trump’s 2020 City vs. Land campaign narrative, the definition of the blue and red states was further expanded, meaning that the Republican won 7 percent fewer populous economic powerhouses than in 2016. Biden’s 70 percent GDP share that year came from the 477 U.S. counties he won, compared to the 29 percent GDP share in the 2,497 counties the president won.
The authors of the study found that Democratic control over heavily populated, economic city centers is hardly new. But the fact that the Republican Party is focusing on sparsely populated rural land masses to gain votes has led legislators to reject things like helping cities in the event of a coronavirus pandemic and to dismiss urban problems as partisan problems that their political rivals have to deal with.
Biden improved on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 victories in 472 counties, which four years ago accounted for 64 percent of U.S. GDP. This year’s Democratic candidate moved between places like Maricopa County in Arizona and Tarrant County in Texas to dig even deeper into the Republicans’ dwindling economic centers. Muro told Reuters on Thursday that the GOP is clinging to “an economic [voter]base in the nation’s crisis-ridden small towns and rural areas that remains frustrated.
Biden turned over five of the 10 economically most powerful counties Trump won against Clinton four years ago: Maricopa County in Phoenix, Tarrant County in Dallas-Fort Worth, Jacksonville in Duval County in Florida, Morris County in New Jersey and Tampa-St. Petersburg in Pinellas County in Florida.
The 41-point gap between the economic performance of Trump’s “red counties” and Biden’s “blue counties” this year has also affected the views of both parties on issues such as diversity. The co-authors of the Brookings study emphasized that Biden counties tend to be “far more diverse, educated and employed. The aggregated non-white, college-educated shares of counties that Biden won range between 35 and 36 percent – compared with Trump County economies, which have only between 16 and 25 percent non-white college graduates.
Washington Newsday asked the Trump campaign for additional comments on Thursday morning.