Bill Clinton was the last Democratic nominee to demonstrate wide appeal across that divide: In both 1992 and 1996, he carried nearly half of America’s 3,100 counties. But since then, Democrats have retreated into the nation’s urban centers. In 2000, Al Gore narrowly won the popular vote, but carried fewer than 700 counties. In 2012, President Obama squeezed even more advantage from the biggest places: He carried 86 of the nation’s 100 largest counties (including the District of Columbia), winning them by nearly 12 million votes combined. That allowed him to win comfortably, although he carried only about 600 of the remaining 3,000 counties, and lost them by nearly 7 million votes combined.
This year, Hillary Clinton pushed that model just past the breaking point. Pending final results, she now leads in 88 of the nation’s 100 largest counties (including D.C.). Suffering a slight decline in African American support, Clinton did not quite match Obama’s vote margins in some crucial metropolitan areas, particularly Detroit, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia.
But overall, she delivered a dominant performance in most urban centers and many affluent white-collar suburbs. She held Trump to less than one-fourth of the vote in such mega-counties as Manhattan, Cook (Chicago), and Los Angeles; expanded on Obama’s margins in growing Sunbelt cities such as Miami, Charlotte, and Houston; and utterly routed Trump in thriving new economy centers like Austin, Silicon Valley, and Seattle. At latest tally, Clinton won the nation’s 100 largest counties by fully 12.6 million votes—an historic lead certain to widen with many more West Coast ballots yet to count.