Density Creates Democrats

The Boston Globe says that when suburbs become denser, 'Democrats promising mass transit become more appealing than Republicans promising to protect gun ownership.'

"IT'S OFTEN said that people get more conservative as they grow older, but places seem to get more liberal or, at least, more Democratic as they mature.

For several decades, the Republican Party has thrived in fast-growing communities, first in the West and then in the South. In 2004, President Bush won 84 of the 100 counties with the greatest percentage increase in votes since the previous presidential election, doing especially well in the low-density "exurbs" of Atlanta, Dallas, and Nashville. In Georgia's Paulding County, the number of votes was up 67 percent (from 24,000 to 40,000), and Bush won by almost 3 to 1. Statistics like these reinforce the impression of the GOP as the party of the future, ready to take advantage of American migratory trends.

So why is the Republican Party in danger of losing the White House? One reason is that while the GOP is popular in settlement suburbs, it seems to lose appeal when those suburbs mature and become more crowded."

Thanks to Reconnecting America

Full Story: GOP's suburban advantage fading with time?

Comments

Comments

Michael Lewyn's picture
Blogger

confuses correlation and causation

Just because people living in inner suburbs vote Democratic doesn't mean they vote Democratic because they live in such places. A more plausible interpretation is that when Democrats move to suburbs, they stay Democrats.

For example, Atlanta's most Democratic suburb is DeKalb County. Why is it so Democratic? Because its residents are African-Americans who vote Democratic no matter where they live.

Some correlation, some causality

Michael,

Undoubtedly there is some degree of self-selection -- people who are already predisposed to vote Democratic tend to live in the city and inner suburbs.

But I would argue there is some causality as well. Those living in the far suburbs and exurbs didn't feel they needed planning, development regulations, mixed-use zoning, and transit. With cheap oil, they could tap into the Earth's finite energy savings account to fuel their individualism. Now, they are starting to see the need for location and the need for community.

Once one begins to rediscover the value of community -- of the efficiencies and pleasures of locating close to others and close to a diverse range of economic activity -- one is more likely to reject the mainstream brand of conservatism that eschews community under the straw person of "collectivism" and argues that the best organization of society is only one that is loosely organized, without the regulation of externalities (such as hardship from lack of sufficient planning for alternative transportation).

I think other reasons why

I think other reasons why the Dems have the urban core vote are that city dwellers do not mind money going to parks, museums, homeless shelters and city beautification projects. Simply put, I think people in denser areas see their tax dollars at work more than typical suburban areas. The theory correlates to Europe as well where their conservatives often seem as liberal as our Democrats.

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