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Assessing the Rural-Urban Divide in a Red State

Introduction

This paper explores the rural-urban divide, as it exists within Nebraska, which is a state that is largely homogenous, primarily red, with a historically sizable rural population that is in decline in most counties.1 Using survey data of attitudes towards political and economic issues, and self-identified political ideology, two key questions are considered. Has there been change in the rural-urban divide in Nebraska as rural areas lose population? Second, does the rural-urban divide persist when controlling for party identification, age, and income in multivariate analyses? Bivariate results show that the rural-urban divide continues to be an important factor on several issues. The multivariate analyses reveal that the rural- urban divide remains significant when the issues are prayer and sex education in public schools, gun control, assisting the poor when times are bad, and choosing to reduce services rather than to raise taxes. The discussion considers the current and potential future effects of the rural-urban divide in Nebraska.

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