Not A "War on Suburbia" Election

MLewyn's picture

According to Joel Kotkin, this month's elections were really about the "progressives' war on suburbia." According to Kotkin, the Democrats lost because they are "aggressively anti-suburban." Since I didn't vote for President Obama, I leave it to his supporters to defend him.

However, I do think it is worth pointing out that cities and suburbs moved in the same direction this year. The Republicans gained several governorships this year (Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts). I couldn't find city election statistics for Arkansas, but I was able to find city board of elections statistics for the other three states. In each, the Republican candidates for governor improved on their 2010 showing. In Massachusetts, Republican Charlie Baker gained 30 percent of the Boston city vote, up from 23 percent in 2010. This 7 point gain was equal to his 6.5 point statewide gain (from 42 to 48.5 percent) and exceeded his 4 point gain in suburban Middlesex County, In Illinois, the Republican vote share increased from 17 to 20 percent. Kotkin asserts that this is a "laughably pathetic" vote share, but in fact the Republicans gained almost as much in Chicago as they did statewide. They gained 3 percentage points in Chicago, and 5 points statewide (from 46% to 50.8%). (To be fair, the Republican gained a little more in the Chicago suburbs, but that may reflect the fact that he is from suburban Chicago while 2010 nominee Bill Brady was from downstate). In Maryland, the Republican vote share in Baltimore city increased from 16 percent to 22 percent, a 6 point shift, more than the vote shift in Prince George's County near Washington (4 points) and almost as much as the 7-point vote shift in Montgomery County. (However, the Republican gained more votes in the Baltimore suburbs, which by Kotkin's logic means that they must have revolted against a "progressive war on Baltimore.")


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