Iowa's Urban Areas Boost Obama Vote

On his way to winning the Iowa Democratic caucuses, Sen. Barack Obama seemed to have benefited heavily from support in urban and student regions.

According to precinct returns, Obama's strongest showing came in Johnson County, home to Iowa City, the state's sixth-most-populous city (and also the home of the University of Iowa). Based on results from 98 percent of Johnson County precincts, Obama appeared to have captured 52 percent of the vote there, compared with 38 percent for the entire state.

The next-highest return came from Iowa's Scott County, where Obama received 48 percent of the vote. Scott County includes Davenport, the third-largest city in the state.

Other strong pockets of support included Black Hawk County, which is home to Iowa's fifth-largest city, Waterloo; and Linn County, home to Iowa's second-largest city, Cedar Rapids. Obama took 44 percent of the vote in Black Hawk and 43 in Linn.

A number of converging factors could potentially explain Obama's strong urban showing, among them age, socioeconomic status, and education level. Another possibility not ruled out by the returns is ethnicity. The three cities in Iowa with the largest percentage of African-Americans are Waterloo (14 percent), Davenport (9), and Des Moines (8). Their respective counties--Black Hawk, Scott, and Polk--gave Obama slightly higher proportions of the vote than he received statewide (44, 48, and 39 percent, respectively).

There are exceptions to these figures. For example, Obama also did particularly well in Jefferson County, in southeast Iowa, where he received 46 percent of the county's vote. The county seat of Jefferson County is the city of Fairfield, with a population just under 10,000, according to 2000 census figures.

By Kent Garber