Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 1, 2014

America’s Cities: A New Course of American Liberalism?

Gary Younge, writing in The Guardian, comments on how American cities are shifting farther left.

“Across the country, from New York to Seattle and Boston to Pittsburgh, municipal authorities are swinging left. As Harold Meyerson argued in the American Prospect: ‘The mayoral and council class of 2013 is one of the most progressive cohorts of elected officials in recent American history… They are, in short, enacting at the municipal level many of the major policy changes that progressives have found themselves unable to enact at the federal and state levels. They also may be charting a new course for American liberalism.’”

“The organisational and electoral bases of these campaigns are virtually the same as those that propelled Obama to victory – trade unions, minorities, young people (particularly young women) and liberals. And they are promising what Obama has been unwilling or unable to deliver. They are trying to raise the minimum wage, introduce green technology, create affordable housing, levy money from the wealthy to fund universal childcare and rein in their police departments from racist excess.”

“People think in terms of red and blue states, but the real distinction is between town and country.”

  • embo66

    “People think in terms of red and blue states, but the real distinction is between town and country.”

    It’s been the salient difference politically for a long time. Big cities tend to lean and vote liberal / blue / Democratic. With few exceptions, even large cities in deep Red states vote Democratic.

    CityLab has a fascinating look at how population density, education level, career / economic class, and level of affluence all correlated with Obama wins in 2012: the higher the levels for each, the more Obama won by. (Also interesting: No significant correlations were found for race or poverty levels, though foreign-born voters went for Obama by large margins.)

    http://www.citylab.com/politics/2013/02/what-makes-some-cities-vote-democratic/4598/

    Population density alone appears to be a hugely telling correlation. (see attached graph) “At about 800 people per square mile, people switch from voting primarily Republican to voting primarily Democratic. Put another way, below 800 people per square mile, there is a 66% chance that you voted Republican. Above 800 people per square mile, there is a 66% chance that you voted Democrat.” http://www.citylab.com/politics/2012/11/what-republicans-are-really-against-population-density/3953/

    250 millions Americans now live in urban centers / MSAs, with density approaching or exceeding the “magic” 800 people per square mile. Not to mention that nearly all U.S. economic growth is in these urban centers and will continue to be.

    Considering these factors, Republicans may want to change their tune about “heartland America” and the evils of the Big Bad City.

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