Urban v. Rural: a north american trend?
Three recent publications zoom in on Canada’s demographics: Michael Adams, president of Environics and member of the Canada’s World advisory committee, writes an essay about his company’s latest findings that show a trend toward a Conservative majority government; John Duffy, a Liberal commentator, compares Canada to the U.S. and posits a new post racial, post regional wedge issue: urban v. rural; and Canada’s bad boy of the culture wars, Christian Lander (Toronto raised, McGill educated), gets his book published on Stuff White People Like.
Is it possible to see a thread in the comments of all three: an emerging geographic “culture” split – a kind of Rorschach test for how people vote?
At first glance, Michael Adam’s piece would suggest, no. His Environics firm polled 2, 505 Canadian voters and found that campaigning on a “carbon tax” was across the board unpopular (68 percent against; 72 percent against in QC), with a majority of Canadians agreeing with the current federal government’s approach to dealing with climate change; that 57 percent of those polled did not think a Tory government would be much different than what we have now; and that the majority of Canadians (56 per cent) didn’t approve of Canada’s military participation in Afghanistan. According to the poll, two thirds of Canadians do not think the Canadian mission in that country will succeed. The survey found that aside from the economy, no one issue dominated public concern. Interestingly, Adams’ poll results show most Canadians still see the economy and the environment as two competing priorities.
That dichotomy is perhaps related to Duffy’s argument which sees both the Canadian and U.S. federal elections not only as on a continuum across North America, but as a division between “city folk” and “high-consumption, low-density rural voters.” Duffy argues that in the States, race as a determining factor and in Canada, regionalism as a predictor of party loyalty has shifted. (He might well be dead wrong on that one.)
Duffy references the GOP dependence on the rural vote and finds that where rural and urban “line up,” the result is either a close or outright Democratic win. More persuasively, Duffy examines Canada through the same lens and predicts that “environmental politics” will further the rural-urban split: “as environmental problems get worse, however, politicians will be…forced into confrontations between urban and rural conditions.”
Christian Lander’s satire on the consumption habits of wealthy, primarily urban “progressives,” featured in the online Atlantic with the lede, Intolerant Chic, taps into some of Duffy’s claims – that across North America, consumer “narcissism,” often stereotyped as being “from the city,” particularly a “coastie city” – drives a wedge between urban and rural – to be exploited by politicians locked in tightly fought contests. Predictions anyone?