Looking at Tuesday’s election results, it’s clear the United States has morphed into five distinct political nations. This marks a sharp consolidation of the nine cultural and economic regions that sociologist Joel Garreau laid out 30 years ago in his landmark book “The Nine Nations of North America.”
In political terms there are two solid blue nations, perched on opposite coasts, that have formed a large and powerful bloc. Opposing them are two almost equally red countries, which include the historic Confederacy as well as the vast open reaches between the Texas panhandle and the Canadian border.
Between these two largely immovable blocs stands the fifth nation — essentially the Great Lakes industrial heartland. By winning this territory — which could be called “Bailout Nation” — President Barack Obama built a winning coalition. Though this part of the country has suffered economic decline and demographic stagnation for decades, it is now emerging, as former President George W. Bush would put it, as “the decider” of America’s political fate.
It’s no surprise that the coastal nations voted totally blue, reelecting the president, usually by margins of 10 points or more. The first of these nations can be dubbed “the Old Country,” the most European part of America.
It stretches along the coast, from Maine to Maryland, and is essentially the Democratic Party’s base. It’s where the intellectual heirs to the traditions of Progressivism, the New Deal and New Frontier are most entrenched.