Military Bastions
Areas with high employment in the military or related to the presence of the military and large veteran populations
Per Capita vs. Median Household Income (2010)
Presidental Elections Vote
% Military Employment (2006)
% Veteran Population (2010)


Military Bastions

Many of the Military Bastions began their life as army towns or navy ports long ago and they weren’t chosen randomly. Many bases were deliberately placed in rural locations to help spur economic growth and their impact is obvious. They have diversified their home communities, at least the areas nearest the bases, by bringing in recruits from across the country of different ethnic and racial backgrounds. And in many cases that have stabilized small towns that otherwise would have been badly hurt in the rise of global trade. A few examples: Hampton Roads, VA Hopkinsville, KY

The Military Bastion counties in Patchwork Nation largely sit near or around major installations for the armed forces. That means they have a big, reliable employer in their midst that regularly brings young men, women and families to town. In recent decades it has also come to mean new businesses as well – not only to serve the soldiers and their families but also serve the bases themselves as contractors. On the negative side, deployments can mean large parts of the population are gone for months or years at a time, creating instability. And the threat of base realignment always hangs in the air. What if the nearby fort or base is shuttered?

On the whole, however, the soldiers and the services that aid them are an enormous part of what makes these places go and the crucial part of what gives them their character.

Military Bastions counties are often a complicated mix of patriotism, faith and boys-will-be-boys (and girls-will-be-girls) entertainment. You’re likely to see more American flags and larger ones, in the Bastions than you do elsewhere. You’re also likely to see many churches – these counties tend to have more evangelical adherent than others. But, as might be expected, there are a more than a few bars as well as inexpensive places to eat – and play. A strip of businesses often lies just outside the gates of the local base aimed solely at the men and women of the armed forces.

Military Bastions

Community Stories

2012 Results: Problems for the GOP in the Military Bastions?
By Dante Chinni, Jefferson Insitute

Over the past few decades the Republican Party has been a kind of three-legged stool, supported by three key elements – an abiding belief in cutting government and taxes, a strong advocacy of social conservative issues and a solid commitment to a strong national defense. Those issues helped build a winning coalition that included tax-cut favoring suburbanites, Christian conservatives and defense hawks.

But the last few elections suggest some of those legs may be getting a little rickety – particularly the one built on national defense.

In Patchwork Nation, the shift has been particularly noticeable in the counties we call Military Bastions.  Those counties tend to be located near military bases and have large numbers of soldiers, veterans and...