Which 2020 Candidates Have the Pulse of Middle America?

Back in December, we released our Middle America Project (MAP) that ranked every county in the country on how representative it is of the U.S. as a whole.  We were interested in studying places that come closest to typifying America in every way — politically, economically, generationally, and in their racial, religious, and educational makeup.

Using this data, we can also understand which 2020 candidates hail from counties that are most representative of the nation as a whole. Here are the rankings:

South Bend, IN mayor Pete Buttigieg may not top Democratic primary polls, but he hails from the place — St. Joseph County — that is the most representative of the nation as a whole amongst the Presidential field. According to our Middle America Score, St. Joseph County, IN is more typical than 95.3% of the rest of the country. Befitting its status of a national bellwether, St. Joseph County came in at a near-tie in the 2016 election, with a Hillary Clinton margin of just 0.2%.

Overall, just four Democratic Presidential hopefuls and none from other parties — Kirsten Gillibrand, Steve Bullock, Jay Inslee, and Tim Ryan — hail from counties Trump won in 2016.

Also topping the list are Gillibrand from Rensselaer County, NY, more representative than 89.3% of America), Joe Biden from New Castle County, DE (more representative than 87.8% of America), Steve Bullock from Lewis and Clark County, MT (more representative than 81.6% of America), and Sherrod Brown from Cuyahoga County, OH (more representative than 73.5% of America). Their connection to communities in the middle of the country, politically and demographically, may be an asset to their Presidential hopes. 1

Kamala Harris, who served as District Attorney of San Francisco County, CA, comes in at bottom. San Francisco is ranked as more typical than just 1.33% of America.

Of course, a candidate’s home county may not necessarily predict their overall success or their ability to appeal to Middle America. President Donald Trump, who lived on Fifth Avenue, hails from a county more representative than just 2.5% of America.

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