21.5 million people
A large collection of counties, some 599, that runs across the northern half of the country starting up in Maine through the Great Lakes and across to Montana and Washington state. The counties are slightly wealthier than average (median income of $47,000) with a less diverse population (94% white) that is less spread into less urban locales – 50% of the population lives in places the Census labels as rural.. Though they tend to be made up of small towns, these places do not generally rely heavily agriculture. In presidential politics they lean strongly rightward. Republican nominee Mitt Romney won these counties by about 12 percentage points in 2012.