Bloomberg Businessweek

The Electorate: America Divided

One Nation Divisible

The American electorate

September 15, 2016

Damn. What an ugly election.

That’s what everybody’s thinking. Intros to special issues like this one are supposed to be Solomonic tone poems. But that’s not possible in the middle of this spectacle, in which an unprecedentedly unpopular Democrat faces a Republican who in crazy ways is unlike any previous presidential candidate. For many Americans, the options are just plain awful.

Data. That’s where we turned to figure out how in the world we got here. Then our reporters and photographers ­traveled from Tukwila, Wash., to Albertville, Ala., talking to voters. The picture we pieced together shows just how divided we’ve become—and helps explain why.

Above + below photos by William Mebane for Bloomberg Businessweek

There are two Americas, one blue and one red

There’s an America that’s young and another that’s getting old

One America is richer than ever before, and another is poorer and losing hope

In one, minorities see little progress; in another, whites see their privilege fading

In one America, men have fallen behind, and in another, women can’t catch up


We categorized Americans using these five divisions: red state or blue state , old or young , rich or not-rich , white or minority , male or female .

Arrange those groups in every possible combination—old men , red-state young women , old rich minority men , blue-state young rich white women , etc.—and you wind up with 242 different Americas.

We went and found examples of each group, either in people we talked to or in data. And then we chatted with workers over 65, the fastest-growing segment of the labor force, and went dancing with club kids in Brooklyn. We exchanged e-mails with billionaire Mark Cuban and hung out with Milo ­Yiannopoulos, the face of the ­alt-right. Before we get to them, let’s visit Ohio.

Ohio’s Trumpiest Town Is Full of Former Democrats

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Mark Cuban Changes His Mind


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Everybody Thinks They’re Middle-Class


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Some Older Americans Work Because They Want To
Others Work Because They Have To

Obamacare Scares More Americans Than a Nuclear Attack

But less than running out of money

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Gun-Rights Advocates Explain Their Cause—and Their Game Plan


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This Is What a Church Looks Like in 2016

Here is the church. Where is the steeple? Open the doors. Where are the people?

By Karen Weise and Jane Yeomans

Some churches have moved into vacant commercial space

Las Cruces, N.M.

Mesilla Park Community Church, which also meets in a movie theater, began using a former Kmart in August.

Photographer: Brian Wancho for Bloomberg Businessweek

Conklin, N.Y.

In 2014, Bridgewater Baptist Church opened its fourth location, in a warehouse that had been a True Value hardware store.

Photographer: Shane Lavalette for Bloomberg Businessweek

Muskegon, Mich.

Celebration Community Church took over a vacant Lincoln-Mercury dealership in 2008, then expanded into the old service bay in 2015.

Photographer: Sean Proctor for Bloomberg Businessweek

Sacramento, Calif.

In August, Generations Church bought the former home of Casino Royale, which moved into a hotel in 2013 (see below).

Photographer: Max Whittaker for Bloomberg Businessweek

“When I heard about the casino, I thought, Yahtzee! We went inside, and it was one big room filled with card tables. We’re going to convert the bar into this really nice coffee area and hangout spot. And we’re keeping the chandeliers. I was like, ‘Those have got to stay. That is swag right there.’  The unchurched community might think that church people don’t want to meet in a casino. But it’s just a building. We are the church. We could meet anywhere.”

Mark Cullum, pastor

Some businesses see opportunity in abandoned churches

Troy, N.Y.

The Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute moved into the St. Francis de Sales Parish church in 2011. The frat bought the building, which closed in 2009, for $250,000.

Photographer: Shane Lavalette for Bloomberg Businessweek

Chicago, Ill.

The Presbytery of Chicago moved out of its building in 2012 and leased a smaller space. Three years later, Brooklyn Boulders opened an indoor climbing gym here.

Photographer Travis Rooze for Bloomberg Businessweek

Williamsport, Pa.

Treasure Castle Playland, a kids’ activity center, moved into the former South Williamsport Methodist Church in 2009. The church merged with two other congregations nearby.

Photographer: James Robinson for Bloomberg Businessweek

Marine City, Mich.

Gallery Unique Furniture moved into a 1905 building vacated in 2014 by the United Methodist Church (see below).

Photographer: Sean Proctor for Bloomberg Businessweek

“We joined the church in 1954. It was the thing to do, and you do what everybody else does, you know? The church closed because the membership got too small. This is a personal opinion, but the younger people today, both the man and woman are working, and Sunday is their only day to be free to do things, and church isn’t a requirement for them. Things change. The church was 160-something years old. You had the feeling it would be ­forever, but nothing is forever.”

Harvey Finsterwald, former United Methodist Church parishioner

What Clinton and Trump Could Learn From Drake

One of the few things that unites Americans? Our shared love of a Canadian. Drake is the most popular artist on Spotify regardless of sex, where we live, or how old we are.

Top artists on Spotify, June 1–Aug. 31

Red state men
Red state women
Blue state men
Blue state women
18
to
24
25
to
34
35
to
44
45
and
up

Data: Jumpshot

Ebro Darden

New York Hot 97 DJ

“Hillary could learn from Drake to be more vulnerable and transparent. Donald Trump? I don’t know what Donald Trump would learn. Trump would learn from Drake how to bring people together instead of building walls. Love always wins. Drake is making songs about love and falling in love and feeling insecure or finding your way with relationships. That’s something that all people can relate to. Drake is smart enough to know that people want hits and they want to feel good. And whether he writes ’em or someone else writes ’em, it’s all about getting the best music to the people.”

—As told to Devin Leonard

Hari Kondabolu

Stand-up comedian and TV writer

“Growing up as a person of color, if I wanted to enjoy media, I had to humanize white people. You have to see white people as similar to you. If you don’t do that, you can’t enjoy anything. If you don’t see the people on screen as in some way like you, then you aren’t able to take in any media whatsoever. Now, the other side is you have a lot of white people who say, ‘I’m not going to see this movie because it’s a black movie.’ It’s like there are white people who are not used to seeing people of color as equally human­—as having white people’s experiences, sharing a common thread of humanity, also being American. That’s a fundamental difference in what people are used to. So now you have an increase in minority representation. You have an increase in people being able to say what they want after years of being suppressed. And then you have a white population that feels like they’re under attack, because they’re not used to seeing these images. They’re not used to hearing from this America.”

—As told to Allison Hoffman

This Is Why People Without Kids Are Happier

Photographer: Holly Andres for Bloomberg Businessweek

Portland, Ore.

Parents in the U.S. are less happy than adults without kids. The gap here is worse than in 21 other developed countries, according to a study in the American Journal of Sociology. The two ­primary reasons, researchers found, were the high cost of child care and limited paid leave. A web of ­families and providers in ­Portland shows how hard and expensive it is for a two-career family to make sure the kids are all right. —Karen Weise

Sarah Dahlberg

“Finding reliable, quality child care has been one of the most stressful pieces of being a parent. It’s the second-highest cost that we have after housing. You always do that math at the beginning—‘Do we earn enough to have both of us working?’”

Tahlia O’Loughlin

Teaches Alice at Small Wonders School, owned by married couple Allison and Nick Morton.

Allison Morton

Mom to Adelaide, 3, and Teddy, 18 months. “Teddy isn’t old enough to start at our program yet, because we don’t do infant care. You need more teachers, so it’s really hard and really expensive to offer.”

Nick Morton

Co-runs Small Wonders and takes care of Adelaide and Teddy on weekdays when they’re not with their grandmother, Cindy Goodman. Adelaide goes to Small Wonders twice a week.

Cindy Goodman

Allison’s mom. She moved to Portland to help take care of her grandkids, which has allowed the Mortons to expand their business.

Quinlyn Wright

Cares for Adelaide and her classmate Lolani Ojerio at Small Wonders.

Britta Torgrimson-Ojerio

Lolani’s mom. “Day-care centers that were in low-income neighborhoods had shorter wait lists. People with money want to stay in day cares that provide all of these extras. I really find myself questioning some of those things.”

Ryan Ojerio

When his wife, Britta, drops off Lolani at Small Wonders, Ryan takes their younger son, Kai, to a home day care run by Maria De Medeiros.

Maria De Medeiros

After years as a nanny, she opened her own day care, Casa Feliz, in her home this year. “Being a nanny offers a peace of mind. I know my salary every month. But I have been doing this for so many years, and I like challenges. I am sure I will make more money, but it will be harder.”

Sumi Chandra

Mom to Alex and Avi. She hired Maria after her twins were born.

Black Students Don’t Even Get an Equal Education in Diverse Schools


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Black Workers Still Make Less Than Whites With the Same Degree


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Two Filipino Doctors Find the American Dream in Rural Alabama


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Made in America, Sometimes With Foreign Help


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What These 16 Immigrants Have at Stake in the Election

More than 728,000 people have qualified for protection from deportation from the U.S. as of March 31.

By Valeria Fernandez and Michael Friberg


 

Arizona
In 2012, President Obama announced the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It shields young people who arrived in the U.S. before June 2007 from deportation and allows them to apply for work permits legally.
We spoke to 16 of them in Phoenix. —Valeria Fernandez and Michael Friberg

Rodrigo Dorador, 25

Arrived from Mexico at age 9. He works as a data analyst at a Phoenix nonprofit helping immigrant students. He graduated from Santa Clara University with a dual degree in philosophy and economics.

José Patiño, 27

Came from Mexico 21 years ago. He has a masters from Arizona State University and taught high school math for two years before becoming a junior.

Maxima Guerrero, 26

Walked across the border from Mexico when she was 5 with her mom and sister. She owns Empowerment Solutions, a youth development consulting company, and she’s a co-founder of Ganaz Apparel, an athletic-wear line. “The weird thing is that you can be undocumented and be a business owner and even hire people, but you can’t be an employee.”

Francisco Luna, 26

Moved to Las Vegas from Mexico for vision treatment as an 11-year-old. He’s blind in one eye because of a detached retina. Luna works as a paralegal and identifies as “undocu-queer.” “We went through the border with a tourist visa—we got inspected and all. That was around 2001.”

Reyna Montoya, 25

Came from Tijuana on a short-term visa when she was 12. She’s founder and executive director of Aliento, a nonprofit serving immigrant families who’ve been detained. “I don’t want to have a child and have that little person worry about if Mom and Dad will get deported.”

Vianey Perez, 20

Came from Mexico 16 years ago. She’s majoring in design studies at ASU.

Juan Amaya, 26

Moved to California from Mexico at age 7 and then to Arizona. He met his wife, Angelica Hernández, when they were undergrads at ASU. He works as a civil engineer at a general contracting company. “We have a house, and we’re living as middle-class Americans, but it still feels kind of weird. You’re always in limbo.”

Angelica Hernández, 27

Arrived from Mexico on her ninth birthday. She earned a master’s in environmental engineering from Stanford and works at a consulting firm for utilities and chemical companies. She’s the mother of a toddler born in the U.S. “My mom and dad used to clean at the malls. I would go and help them so they could finish faster. I just remember knowing that I had a degree, and now I was here cleaning bathrooms at the mall and knowing how the owner or supervisor of the different stores looked at you. They didn’t know that I had a degree, that I was educated, that I knew English.”

Bibiana Canales, 32

Twin sister of Verónica Canales. Came to the U.S. 22 years ago. She manages a coffee shop and is studying at Phoenix College to be a nurse. She has two children born in the U.S.

Carla Chavarria, 23

Arrived in the U.S. 16 years ago from Mexico. She founded a marketing agency that specializes in targeting Hispanic millennials and co-founded Ganaz Apparel with Maxima Guerrero.

Erika Andiola, 29

Was brought to the U.S. from Mexico as an infant. She worked as a Latino outreach coordinator for Bernie Sanders and now handles political outreach for Our Revolution, a group established by Sanders supporters.

Antonio Valdovinos, 26

Came from Mexico as a toddler. He’s founder of La Machine, a voter turnout consulting company.

Alan Salinas, 25

Came from Mexico 11 years ago. While studying for a degree in computer science at Phoenix College, he’s working as a computer technician.

Jessica Bueno Rivera, 20

Came from Mexico when she was 6 with her sister. While working as a dental assistant, she’s studying to become a dental hygienist. “When I got here, I skipped a grade. They did a test in Spanish, so they said I was advanced. I thought, You know, I am important here. I do have value as a person.”

Sofia Benitez, 26

Born in Colombia, she’s been in the U.S. for 16 years. She earned a degree in physics from Arizona State University and is an intern for Dreamzone, an ASU program that provides support for undocumented students.

Verónica Canales, 32

Arrived from Mexico 22 years ago. She works as a barista and has three children born in the U.S.

Hispanics in the U.S. Increased 150% From 1990 to 2014

They number about 57 million, three times the second-fastest-growing group: Asians.

Population growth since 1990 in the 55 largest cities as of 2014

A city plan to provide municipal ID cards for Charlotte’s undocumented residents was scrapped by an anti-immigrant state bill outlawing “sanctuary cities.”
In only 3 of the 50 cities did the white population grow at a faster-than-average pace: Raleigh, Atlanta, and Washington, all of them Southern boom towns.
Nevada saw the largest demographic shift of all Southwestern states: Hispanic residents went from 10 percent to 27 percent of the population from 1990 to 2010.
In 1990, 72 percent of Arizonans were white; by 2010 the share had fallen to 58 percent.
Sociologists polling Hispanics in Columbus found that 85 percent moved there from other parts of the U.S., mostly in search of cheaper housing and better wages.
57 percent of Miami’s population is foreign-born, the highest share among U.S. cities with 250,000 or more residents.
Immigration is a major factor in Boston’s growing black population; 1 in 3 black Bostonians was born outside the U.S., compared with 9 percent nationwide.
Milwaukee is less segregated than in 1990, but it’s still the least-integrated city in the U.S.; it scored 81 out of 100 on a Brookings Institution segregation index, with 100 meaning complete segregation.

The Refugee Haven South of Seattle


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Milo Yiannopoulos Is the Pretty, Monstrous Face of the Alt-Right


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What Americans Overseas Think of the Election

Interviews with voters in Mexico City, Rome, Beijing, and elsewhere.

London

Executive recruiter Emily Little: “I can’t be supervocal about my intention to vote for Trump, because people here are like, ‘Oh my God, you guys have the worst candidates.’ I have to lead in with, ‘Yes, I agree with you that both candidates are bad, but Hillary is really bad.’ I would never vote for Hillary. I don’t care that she’s a woman.” Little is registered in a swing state that voted for Obama in 2012.

Berlin

High school teacher Daniel Lazar: “A decade ago, it was a full-throated criticism of American foreign policy, accompanied by a bit of ‘Bush is a dummy, and Cheney’s really in charge.’ Now, America seems to be more dysfunctional than she ever was, and there’s a certain degree of schadenfreude. Europe is facing her own struggles—Brexit, Russia, Islamic extremism—and it’s almost nice for Europeans to know that the U.S. is struggling in a very public and awful way as well. I tell people that if they get off on watching America self-immolate now, they’re going to regret it. This isn’t entertainment. This isn’t reality TV. This is real life.” He’s registered in Illinois and plans to vote for Clinton.

Paris

Diner owner Craig Carlson: “During the primaries, most of my customers loved Bernie. We had a Bernie Burger—‘Share with your comrades.’ The French loved that.” Registered in California, he voted for Sanders in the primary and will vote for Clinton.

Toronto

Event and sales coordinator Amanda Ortiz: “People will say something like, ‘But if you had to choose, which?’ I tell them that it’s like asking me, ‘Do you want to die in a desert or freeze in Antarctica?’ Neither.” From New York, she doesn’t plan to vote.

Bangkok

Conservation consultant Barry Dols, about the response of villagers he met in June on a work assignment in Aceh, Indonesia: “It was all fun and games until it was like ‘Wait a minute.’ I told them, ‘If Donald Trump were president he wouldn’t let any of you into the U.S. because you’re Muslim.’ They were dumbfounded.” He’s registered in New Jersey and will vote for Clinton.

Beijing

Social media marketer Jonathan Heeter: “People say that the fact that you have Trump [as the nominee] and he is such a clown, then obviously democracy must be a bad idea. I’ve had a number of people say that to me, which is surprising to hear. People of educated, articulate, university backgrounds saying maybe that indicates we [Chinese] are right and democracy is not a great idea.” Registered in Florida, he won’t vote for Trump; instead, he may vote only in local races.

Moscow

Investor David Wood: “Clinton said something along the lines that she’ll teach Putin a lesson. It’s ingrained in her ethos that America should impose its values on the whole world. I have a lot of sympathy for my Russian friends when they say the U.S. shouldn’t moralize about the Russian political system.” He’s registered in Tennessee and may vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson.

Mexico City

Political risk consultant Wendy Culp: “Obviously, nobody here really likes Trump, but I don’t get a whole lot of uninformed, ‘Oh we hate him’ kind of rhetoric. I get a lot of legitimate, curious questions: ‘Why is this happening? Why is he so popular?’ And that’s what I find myself explaining.” She plans to register in New York and vote for Clinton.

Rome

Wine distributor and Temple University Rome business professor Jocelyn Cortese: “There’s a lot of confusion and surprise people feel here when they see Trump, because he’s such a strange and disturbing character. People don’t understand how this man can be taken seriously, and then I remind them that Italy had Berlusconi.” She’s registered Republican in Pennsylvania and plans to vote for Clinton.

Photograph by Christopher Gregory

Ferguson Is the Reason This Hispanic Woman Is Becoming a Cop

Krystal Rock,
St. Louis County & Municipal Police Academy in Missouri,
class of December 2016

 

 
“When Ferguson happened, I felt like it was something I needed to do—you need fresh police officers to get out there and help the people who had to go through it and maybe change the atmosphere. A lot of police officers want to make a difference, in my class especially. We talk about the events, we look at videos. They’re trying to make it better for everyone out there.

“I’m a platoon leader, one of two out of the 42 in the class. I’ve gotten calls from some of my male classmates saying that they think I’m one of the best recruits. They try to help me get jobs. They’ve been really supportive. And they’ve all met Brittany, my fiancée. Five years ago, I feel like with a lot of people this would not have been acceptable. It’s come a long way.

“Brittany supports me in everything I do. When all those police ­officers were getting killed a couple months ago, she was very worried. But she knew what she was getting into when she met me. Law enforcement can give you every emotion. You have to go into it knowing your life can be taken—but taken doing something that you wanted to do. It’s underpaid, and yet people are still out there laying their lives down for people they don’t know. I’ve heard stories of people who have changed their lifestyles because of the police officer that arrested them. If I can be that police officer, it will all be worth it.

“My dad was a high school bully, fights and stuff. My mom, kind of the same thing. I see the way that they view law enforcement, and it sucks. Police officers don’t wake up every day saying, ‘I want to ruin this family’ or ‘I want to hurt someone.’ They just want to do their jobs and get home to their families. It’s a very small percent that are crooked, just like it’s a very small percent that wants to hurt people. When the media makes that all that is shown, it feels like it’s everyone—that every cop wants to kill someone or every person wants to kill a cop—when in reality 95 percent of the community is pro-police.

“Change needs to happen. Ever since I joined the police academy, my family shares things on Facebook, good things about police officers, like videos of a cop playing with a bunch of little kids. It’s starting to come around.” —As told to Christopher Gregory

The Anger Won’t End on Nov. 8

by Drake Bennett

Read Feature

America Looks Better From Outer Space

Photographer: Getty Images

“This is a connected world. I’ve seen fires in the Northwest United States where the smoke goes to Japan. When you see it for yourself, there’s an emotional swing, a spiritual upbringing. There is a fundamental change that occurs, and I don’t think you ever see the earth the same way, in a disconnected way, ever again.”

—Astronaut Dan Barry, who logged more than 734 hours in space aboard the shuttles Endeavour and Discovery

So, where’s the hope?

This presidential campaign has set Americans against each other, ­deepening disagreements into divisions. Is a country as big, diverse, and ornery as the United States has become even governable?

There’s a clue in the pages of this issue, crammed with the anxieties and dreams of funeral directors and archaeologists, CEOs and ­pastors, DJs and podiatrists. As a wise person—maybe Cervantes, maybe your mother—once said, “It takes all kinds.” Nations, like teams in companies, thrive when they draw on diverse talents and ideas. In a republic that’s divided a thousand ways, no single faction is big enough to impose its will. And people who disagree on one issue might agree on others. A ­country with a single deep split, like the one that caused the Civil War, is far more precarious than a nation with so many that we call it diversity. The Founding Fathers saw that. “Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests,” counseled James Madison in 1787 in Federalist Paper No. 10.

Americans aren’t as divided as their parties. On actual issues, as opposed to rhetoric, their positions overlap, according to a study by the ­Program for Public Consultation at the ­University of Maryland. It ­analyzed 14 surveys conducted from 2008 to 2013. Most Republicans took a ­position opposed to that of most Democrats on fewer than a fifth of the questions.

This is what President Obama was ­getting at in his speech at the ­Democratic National Convention this year. “I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together,” he said. “Black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; young, old; gay, straight, men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance, under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love.”

As important as the election on Nov. 8 is, what matters more is what ­happens on Nov. 9 and afterward. The hope comes from this: As different as they are, Americans all want the same thing—the freedom and security to pursue  possibility.

Issue Editor: Allison Hoffman

Editors: Jim Aley, Bret Begun, Eric Gelman, John Homans, Jeremy Keehn, Miranda Purves, Nick Summers, Brad Wieners

Design and Development: Steph Davidson and James Singleton

Graphics: Dorothy Gambrell, Blacki Migliozzi and Evan Applegate

Digital Production: William Elstrom, Michael Frazer, Tiffany Hale, Justin McLean, Eugene Reznik, Bernadette Walker

Project Managers: Emily Engelman and Thomas Houston