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November 1st: Torsten Jacobi, CEO of Creative Weblogging, joins host Anita Campbell. Sponsored by Six Disciplines. Show details.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
Entrepreneurship, Rural America, and Elections
When you hear the word "entrepreneur" in the U.S., do you immediately think of someone working in a cramped office suite in Silicon Valley or Boston or Seattle?

If you do, you may be overlooking the vast majority of entrepreneurial ventures in the United States.

Entrepreneurship is more prevalent in rural America, compared with urban areas. One-fifth of the U.S. workforce in rural areas and small towns is self-employed. Entrepreneurship is a key part of the fabric of rural life in this country. In cities a much smaller percentage of the overall workforce is self-employed.

This finding comes from the Main Street Economist, a publication of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. The following map from the same publication shows the distribution of entrepreneurs as a percent of the workforce across the United States:

US entrepreneurship as percentage of workforce

This map would be interesting enough by itself. However, reading it reminded me of another map that's been featured in the news this past week.

The following USA Today map shows the distribution of votes for President George Bush (red) versus votes for Senator John Kerry (blue) county by county in the 2004 U.S. Presidential election.

2004 US Presidential Vote by county
County Map of 2004 U.S. Presidential Election

The two maps are not exactly the same, of course. But there appear to be more similarities than differences.

Hint: when looking at both maps, compare the red areas. Red generally equates to rural areas, higher share of entrepreneurial ventures in the workforce, and a majority voting Republican for President Bush.

Do you see a connection? I do. Rural America has a certain blend of economic and personal self-sustainability to which the Republican message appeals particularly. That's my explanation. Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

[Hat tip to Don Iannone at Economic Development Futures for the link to the Main Street Economist.]

UPDATE NOVEMBER 12: I've substituted an updated version of USAToday's red/blue county map to reflecting more complete vote tallies.
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