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October 31, 2008

How American is Your Hometown?

Sarah Palin, John McCain, and even Barack Obama, have all told us about the "real" America. In this mythical place, people work hard (though they may or may not pay their taxes), have "family values" and are "pro-America." But not all of America is the real America—some parts of this great land are, indeed, fake American, or even Un-American.

Patriotic Intersection

Via cobalt123's Flickr stream.

But which parts are which? Though it's fairly apparent that the real America lies in small towns and in the heartland, it's not quite so black and white for much of the country. What about big cities in the heartland, or small towns in the People's Republic of Vermont? To help you find out if where you live is the real America, Gelf has calculated an AmeriScore for various cities and towns across the country. The higher the AmeriScore, the more American a place is.

How did arrive at the score? Simple—seeing as the real America is in our small towns, where people love God and America, the less populated and more Republican a place is, clearly, the more American it is. So Gelf made the following calculation:

(% White + % for Bush + % evangelical Christian) – population in thousands = AmeriScore.

We factored in a +20 bonus for being in the South, a +10 bonus for being near a NASCAR track, and a +5 bonus for American names. We factored in a -20 deduction for being in the Northeast or West Coast, a -10 deduction for being near a Major League Soccer team, and a -5 deduction for a non-American name.

If you want to know your hometown's AmeriScore, let us know in the comments.

Atlanta, Georgia
Population: 442, 887
Ethnicity (pct. White): 37
'04 Bush Pct (county level): 40
Pct evangelical protestant (county level): 21
Soccer Team? No
NASCAR track? Yes
South or Northeast/West? South
AmeriScore: 85

A blue city in a deep red state, filled with minorities, young professionals and Northern transplants, Atlanta is considerably less American than location alone would suggest.

Staten Island, New York
Population: 443,728
Pct White: 78
Pct Bush (county): 56
Pct evangelical (county): 2
Soccer Team? Yes
NASCAR track? No
South or Northeast/West? Northeast
AmeriScore: 62

The only borough of New York City to vote Republican in 2004 (though it went Democrat in 1996 and 2000), Staten Island may be more American than its liberal urban counterparts, but it still can't quite overcome its high population, geographic location and extremely low proportion of evangelicals.

Newark, Ohio
Population: 46,279
Pct white: 94
Pct Bush (county): 62
Pct evangelical (county): 12
Soccer Team? Yes
NASCAR track? No
South or Northeast/West? No
AmeriScore: 112

A small city near the center of the ultimate swing state, Newark benefits from being in solid Bush country, but suffers for its proximity to Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew.

Omaha, Nebraska
Population: 390,007
Pct white: 78
Pct Bush (county): 58
Pct evangelical (county): 10
Soccer team? No
NASCAR track? No
South or Northeast/West? No
AmeriScore: 107

The largest city in Nebraska (and Warren Buffet's hometown), Omaha has a fairly high score for a large city. Omaha received none of the possible score adjustments.

Truckee, California
Population: 13,864
Pct white: 88
Pct bush (county): 53
Pct evangelical (county): 11
Soccer team? No
NASCAR track? No
South or Northeast/West? West
AmeriScore: 123

A small town in Northwestern California, Truckee received a deduction for being near that bastion of presumed fake Americanism, but it also received a bonus for name that is evocative of that most American of vehicles, the truck.

Paris, Texas
Population: 25,898
Pct white: 73
Pct Bush (county): 69
Pct evangelical (county): 49
Soccer team? No
NASCAR track? No
South or Northeast/West? South
AmeriScore: 185

Paris benefits from being in the South and having a huge evangelical population. It received a deduction for Paris, but a bonus for Texas, so the two canceled each other out.

Springfield, Vermont
Population: 9,078
Pct white: 98
Pct bush (county): 37
Pct evangelical (county): .01
Soccer team? No
NASCAR track? No
South or Northeast/West? Northeast
AmeriScore: 106

The winner of the Simpsons Movie Challenge starts out with a large advantage for being a racially homogeneous small town, though it has practically no evangelicals and got the Northeastern deduction.

Kissimmee, Florida
Population: 47,814
Pct white: 67
Pct Bush (county): 52
Pct evangelical (county): 12
Soccer team? No
NASCAR track? No
South or Northeast/West? South
AmeriScore: 98

This suburb of Orlando got a bonus for being in the South. Like John Kerry, though, the word "Kissimmee" just seems French.

Shelbyville, Tennessee
Population: 16,105
Pct white: 77
Pct Bush (county): 61
Pct evangelical (county): 34
Soccer team? No
NASCAR track? Yes
South or Northeast/West? South
AmeriScore: 191

The winner (so far) of our pseudoscientific quest to find the most American place, this town in Central Tennessee has it all—a small, homogeneous population, and lots of evangelicals and Bush voters. It also receives every possible bonus, for being in the South, for relative proximity to a NASCAR track, and for being named "Shelbyville, Tennessee." Congratulations, Shelbyville—Sarah Palin should be arriving in town any day now.

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- Politics
- posted on Nov 01, 08

Alas, a paradox. Places like Lebanon, PA; Damascus, MD; and Canaan, IN hardly possess American/Anglo/English location designates. In these cases, the foreign-ness of their names actually bolsters their American-ness. No?

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