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Author Topic: 3 simple Q's (Who are buying homes? Why are suburbs Rep? Why are cities Dem?)  (Read 6090 times)
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« on: April 10, 2005, 05:08:05 pm »
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Please rant your opinions on this topic. Before I get flamed for ignorance, let me first point out that I am from a county that is both highly suburban and highly Democratic. We are pretty middle class but are definitely higher than the median household income here.

Here is my shot at starting this:

One obvious answer would be income-- most poor people live in cities, and most rich people live in the suburbs. But does this explain why rural areas, where there are plenty of poor people, tend to vote heavily Republican?

Another possibility is that cities tend to have more blacks and other minorities while suburban areas are heavily white. This explanation holds some water, but cannot by itself explain the variation. For example, whites in D.C. and probably most other big Democratic cities are overwhelmingly Democratic. Why?

Another possibility is that suburban areas tend to have more "normal" families who are concerned with things such as keeping taxes low and family-oriented values, while cities tend to have more singles, who are socially more lax in their behavior or have weaker family values. They live in the city because they are poor, but it is cultural issues that provides the difference. This of course begs a question: is the GOP the party of "normal" people?

And finally, I am not sure any of these explanations explains the "trend" of recent decades of an increasing suburban-urban polarization.

So let me just pose three simple questions:

1) What are the population factors behind the growth of the suburbs? We have seen no massive outflux of inner city families into the suburbs. Nor have we seen a massive increase in the nation's home ownership rate since 1997 (perhaps 2-3%) Hence, who are the people buying these new houses in the housing boom? The answers to this question may explain some of the partisan makeup of the suburbs, and whether a "conversion" occurs when one moves from area A to area B, and one's economic interests and social idenficiation perhaps alter.

2) Why are the suburbs so Republican? Is it class, race, family structure, or something else?

3) Why are the cities so Democratic? Is it class, race, family structure, or something else?
« Last Edit: April 10, 2005, 05:10:14 pm by the_factor »Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2005, 05:13:55 pm »
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Well suburbs aren't exactly so Republican, depending on the part of hthe country.  Boston's suburbs are liberal and have been for awhile.  new York's suburbs (especially Long Island, & Westchester) have gone from GOP to DEm & now is fairly liberal.  Philly's suburbs Montco & Bucks have done the same & are now fairly liberal.  D.C's subrubs are moving leftward (Fairfax especially)  Denver's suburbs are pretty liberall,  Seattle's suburbs are fairly liberal, same with the bay area.
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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2005, 05:16:35 pm »
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1) What are the population factors behind the growth of the suburbs? We have seen no massive outflux of inner city families into the suburbs. Nor have we seen a massive increase in the nation's home ownership rate since 1997 (perhaps 2-3%) Hence, who are the people buying these new houses in the housing boom? The answers to this question may explain some of the partisan makeup of the suburbs, and whether a "conversion" occurs when one moves from area A to area B, and one's economic interests and social idenficiation perhaps alter.


Your premise is incorrect.  Innercity families are moving to the suburbs.  In the case of African Americans in the Phila region, at lot of suburbs are increasingly Black.  It tends to be more middle class Black families.


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2) Why are the suburbs so Republican? Is it class, race, family structure, or something else?

Economics and quality of living issues.

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3) Why are the cities so Democratic? Is it class, race, family structure, or something else?

A lot of income and race, but both are changing.
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« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2005, 05:18:27 pm »
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Housing is a monstrous bubble.
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« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2005, 05:25:29 pm »
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Your premise is incorrect.  Innercity families are moving to the suburbs.  In the case of African Americans in the Phila region, at lot of suburbs are increasingly Black.  It tends to be more middle class Black families.

You could be right about this, at least for your area. It could be that both rural and city populations are moving to the suburbs. I just looked at the housing data and the national home ownership rate increased from 63% in 1965 to 64% in 1995-- a 1% gain for three decades. In 2004 it was at 68.6%, an over 4% gain in just the past 9 years. While 4% of households is a tiny fraction, it is a lot more movement than we've seen up until now.

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Economics and quality of living issues.

This doesn't explain why rural voters are heavily GOP though.

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A lot of income and race, but both are changing.

In which direction?

Smash255-- true, but I want to establish the general patterns, and then look at the inevitable exceptions, like my own county. But feel free to post why you think these exceptions exist.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2005, 05:27:27 pm by the_factor »Logged

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« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2005, 05:31:44 pm »
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Interest rates are going up soon. People with variable rate mortages are really going to be hurting. The job market still isn't that great. There will be a number of foreclosures. It'll be harder for people to take out mortgages because of increased interest rates. These will cause housing values to go down. Then some people with large mortgages will have more in their mortgage than their equity, so they won't even be able to sell the house without some income to cover their loss.
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« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2005, 06:22:16 pm »
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Thank God, those dumbass people are ruining Fresno county by building thier dumbass suburban cookie cutter subdivisions. Starve bitches.
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« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2005, 09:43:48 pm »
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Your premise is incorrect.  Innercity families are moving to the suburbs.  In the case of African Americans in the Phila region, at lot of suburbs are increasingly Black.  It tends to be more middle class Black families.

You could be right about this, at least for your area. It could be that both rural and city populations are moving to the suburbs. I just looked at the housing data and the national home ownership rate increased from 63% in 1965 to 64% in 1995-- a 1% gain for three decades. In 2004 it was at 68.6%, an over 4% gain in just the past 9 years. While 4% of households is a tiny fraction, it is a lot more movement than we've seen up until now.

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Economics and quality of living issues.

This doesn't explain why rural voters are heavily GOP though.

Quote
A lot of income and race, but both are changing.

In which direction?

Smash255-- true, but I want to establish the general patterns, and then look at the inevitable exceptions, like my own county. But feel free to post why you think these exceptions exist.

The factor  the housing rate increase is in direct correlation with  the poor economy of recent years.  I work in the mortagge industry, interest rates over the last few years have been at its lowest levels EVER.  The rates have been impacted by the economy for the most part.  the 10 year note for example, when the yield on the note goes up the rates go up when iut goes downn the note goes down.  Rates were going up for 7 straight weeks, (the note was rising during this time) the March jobs report came out & it was a dissapointment, not went back down a bit as a result.  The Fed lowered the prime rate quite a bit from 2001-2004, due to the sluggish economy, rates were at the lowest as a result.  Prime rate has gone up from 4% last June to 5.75% now, but its still VERY LOW compared to historic levels.  Thats the main reason why Home Ownership has gone up.


Now to why the exceptions.  In part I think it has to do with social issues.  Most of the Democratic suburban areas I mentioned above are fairly socially liberal areas (use to be moderate on social issues) & are economically moderte areas for the most part (use to be economically conservative)  the areas.   So the suburban areas mentioned above have become more liberal especially on social issues, in an era the GOP is moving right socially has a lot to do with it.  Another reason is the collapse of machine politics on the local level.  Can't speak much about the other areas I mentioned, but Long Island was controlled for a long time by GOP machione politics.  It started to move towards the Democrats on a National level first in the early 90's, but at this time the large wins the GOP use to have on the local level became smaller & smaller.  Eventually leading to the change of power in the local governments which really took shape from about 1996-2002.  So to why the exception with some suburbs (Long Island, Westchester Philly burbs, Fairfax VA, Seatte burbs, etc) bucking the trend has a lot to do the areas becoming more liberal especially socially liberal at a time the GOP has become more socially conservative as well as a breakdown of machine politics in the local governent.

I would actually say on suburban areas it really depends on the part of the country.  This probably goes a long way to explain why blue states have gotten bluer & red states redder.  Suburban areas in the NorthEast. MidATlantic & West Coast (minus Orange Co) for the most part are Democratic areas or at least trending more Democrat, suburbs in the South, Mid West & Rocky Mtn region (minus Denver) tend to be Republican & trending more GOP

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« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2005, 10:02:49 pm »
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Well suburbs aren't exactly so Republican, depending on the part of hthe country.  Boston's suburbs are liberal and have been for awhile.  new York's suburbs (especially Long Island, & Westchester) have gone from GOP to DEm & now is fairly liberal.  Philly's suburbs Montco & Bucks have done the same & are now fairly liberal.  D.C's subrubs are moving leftward (Fairfax especially)  Denver's suburbs are pretty liberall,  Seattle's suburbs are fairly liberal, same with the bay area.

You can take this urban-suburban-rural politics thing on many different levels.  You have the downtowns of many Northeastern cities (CC Philly, Manhattan ,etc.)  being fairly well off and white , but overwhelmingly Democratic and "trendy".  Mostly younger professionals, make a decent living, but not overhwemingly weatlhy, live w/ roomates and socially liberal.  GOP policies strangle them because they don't have families.  

You get another layer (North and West Philly, Bronx, parts of Brooklyn) of African American and Hispanics who are also overhwhelmingly Dem as well, but largely on economic issues.  They can at times have conservative stances on some social issues, especially gay marriage, but will almost never vote GOP.

Your next layer gets tricky, yet this is an area I can best describe.  This is where the urban and suburban areas kind of mesh.  Areas such as Northeast Philadelphia, Staten Island, Yonkers, Queens, Upper Darby, and Bristol describe what I'm talking about next.  Basically the outer city, inner industrial suburbs.  These areas lean Dem, but have a fairly large GOP influence.  Issues and their stances on them vary greatly, but these areas are mostly white ethnic Roman Catholics with a sizable number of minorities.  <Don't shoot me for PA 13-izing this.>  One thing about the city parts is you have a lot of Philly and NYC cops that need to keep a city residence.  A fair number work in African American precincts and think minorities cause problems, tend to have an attiude they are racially superior and these attitudes spread down to their kids and sometimes neighbors.  Many send their kids to Catholic schools and some attend Mass.  Socially conservative "values" are further enforced in this environment.  However a good number of other people are in Unions and "vote their wallet".  Also, a fair number want to get as far away from the Church as possible.  

Next layer are the suburbs.  Funny, most older residents are GOP, yet when their kids return from living in a trendy area of a downtown to raise a family, they keep their liberal, Democratic politics..I guess the first is due to economics and I've explained the latter.  Another thing I can think of is in the suburbs, you have to pay for EVERYTHING such a property taxes and trash pickup.  Some suburban residents are not fans of the local GOP controlled government.  Teens, 20 and early 30 somethings I find are VERY socially liberal though.

Rural areas beats me!  
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« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2005, 10:34:34 pm »
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Smash and Flyers, great replies!
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« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2005, 03:44:23 am »
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Smash and Flyers, great replies!

I simply gave you New York and Philly's trends.  Boston and Baltimore-Washington's trends are generally different from what I just described, but having been to some of their neighborhoods, there are a lot of similarities politically and "urban structure."  I guess Baltimore would kinda be like what I described in regards to Philly-NYC.  However, Washington is drastically different because you don't have somewhat socially conservative transition areas and you basically have "tax and spend" government worker liberals in Maryland and higher paid gov't workers plus lobbyists in Northern Virginia.  Boston is very funny because the only area that's socially conservative is really South Boston, which reminds me of a classic 1950s-1960s white ethnic, VERY socially conservative yet heavily Democratic neighborhood called Kensington in Philadelphia where my dad's family's from.  Of course the neighborhood is now mostly Latino.  Anyway, the rest of the Boston area is very liberal. 
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« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2005, 06:03:28 am »
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1. People...
2. Middle class
3. Poor people
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« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2005, 06:13:48 pm »
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Smash and Flyers, great replies!

I simply gave you New York and Philly's trends.  Boston and Baltimore-Washington's trends are generally different from what I just described, but having been to some of their neighborhoods, there are a lot of similarities politically and "urban structure."  I guess Baltimore would kinda be like what I described in regards to Philly-NYC.  However, Washington is drastically different because you don't have somewhat socially conservative transition areas and you basically have "tax and spend" government worker liberals in Maryland and higher paid gov't workers plus lobbyists in Northern Virginia.  Boston is very funny because the only area that's socially conservative is really South Boston, which reminds me of a classic 1950s-1960s white ethnic, VERY socially conservative yet heavily Democratic neighborhood called Kensington in Philadelphia where my dad's family's from.  Of course the neighborhood is now mostly Latino.  Anyway, the rest of the Boston area is very liberal. 

Baltimore's suburbs are pretty conservative compared to the rest of the Northeast. I'm sure you've heard that many people consider Baltimore to be a "Southern" city in the North. Baltimore county (doesn't include the city) votes Democrat because of the inner Baltimore suburbs which are heavily Democrat (minorities moving out of the city), but the rest of the Baltimore suburbs are conservative Republican, and the exurbs are VERY conservative (Baltimore exurbs are spilling into York county, which is one of the reasons I think it trended Bush in '04).

Baltimore itself isn't very liberal, and much of Maryland is populist. The liberal areas are around D.C.
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« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2005, 12:24:44 am »
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Because Democrats tend to like inner cities and hate suburbs and for Republicans it's vice-versa. The cities are full of minorities and people like me, people who actually don't think a little crime is enough reason to live in a horribly boring sterile area devoid of all culture and anything of interest.
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« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2005, 12:30:32 am »
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The family aspect is significant-- married people are overwhelmingly more Republican than single people.
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« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2005, 12:32:01 am »
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Smash and Flyers, great replies!

I simply gave you New York and Philly's trends.  Boston and Baltimore-Washington's trends are generally different from what I just described, but having been to some of their neighborhoods, there are a lot of similarities politically and "urban structure."  I guess Baltimore would kinda be like what I described in regards to Philly-NYC.  However, Washington is drastically different because you don't have somewhat socially conservative transition areas and you basically have "tax and spend" government worker liberals in Maryland and higher paid gov't workers plus lobbyists in Northern Virginia.  Boston is very funny because the only area that's socially conservative is really South Boston, which reminds me of a classic 1950s-1960s white ethnic, VERY socially conservative yet heavily Democratic neighborhood called Kensington in Philadelphia where my dad's family's from.  Of course the neighborhood is now mostly Latino.  Anyway, the rest of the Boston area is very liberal. 

Baltimore's suburbs are pretty conservative compared to the rest of the Northeast. I'm sure you've heard that many people consider Baltimore to be a "Southern" city in the North. Baltimore county (doesn't include the city) votes Democrat because of the inner Baltimore suburbs which are heavily Democrat (minorities moving out of the city), but the rest of the Baltimore suburbs are conservative Republican, and the exurbs are VERY conservative (Baltimore exurbs are spilling into York county, which is one of the reasons I think it trended Bush in '04).

Baltimore itself isn't very liberal, and much of Maryland is populist. The liberal areas are around D.C.

Based on religious sect which does not say everything but tells a lot, Baltimore is very Catholic along with much of the western shore, which would certainly put it in the north not the south. But it certainly is much more conservative, and you could say that it's trending conservative, whereas the D.C. suburbs are going the other way. Ehrlich was able to win because he ran up big margins in Baltimore county. By the way, would you generally consider Howard county as more part of the D.C. suburbs or more part of the Baltimore suburbs?
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« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2005, 06:46:40 am »
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So let me just pose three simple questions:

1) What are the population factors behind the growth of the suburbs? We have seen no massive outflux of inner city families into the suburbs. Nor have we seen a massive increase in the nation's home ownership rate since 1997 (perhaps 2-3%) Hence, who are the people buying these new houses in the housing boom? The answers to this question may explain some of the partisan makeup of the suburbs, and whether a "conversion" occurs when one moves from area A to area B, and one's economic interests and social idenficiation perhaps alter.

2) Why are the suburbs so Republican? Is it class, race, family structure, or something else?

3) Why are the cities so Democratic? Is it class, race, family structure, or something else?

I think there are several answers to these questions, and much of the answer lies in demographics.

Suburbs are much more family-oriented than cities, and even in areas with liberal suburbs, such as New York and Boston, the suburbs will be considerably more conservative than the central cities.

Many trends have pushed the cities toward being havens for the rich and the poor, while the bulk of the middle class has been driven out to the suburbs.  This is largely due to the gap between promise and performance in our urban policies of the past 50 years.  The poor can't afford to leave the cities, and the rich have enough money to ward off the dangers/deficiencies that appear in the cities, though private security and private schools, so they can effectively enjoy the benefits of urban life without the downside that people with less money face. 

The middle class is unwilling to deal with the deficiencies, such as bad schools and crime, inherent in urban life, but cannot afford the measures needed to circumvent these problems in an urban setting, so they leave.  The reasons they leave, and the reasons that the poor and some of the rich stay, have much to do with the stark differences in political views between the cities and the suburbs.

The departure of much of the working class from the cities have made the cities more liberal.  I also think that in a certain sense, conservatives have been the victims of their own success, as people have very short memories.  New York in 1993 elected a Republican mayor who while socially liberal, was unabashedly conservative on issues such as crime.  But because he largely removed the fear of omnipresent crime as an issue, some people favor going back to the more liberal policies that produced the crime in the first place.

There is a complex interplay, both economically and socially, between the cities and the suburbs.  In Connecticut and much of the northeast, property values are determined largely by the quality of the school district.  And for most people here, no matter how liberal they claim to be, the perception is that a "good" district must be one that is largely white, with few minorities.  They won't say it out loud, but their behavior confirms this line of thought.  The result is that home prices vary drastically based upon the school district in which a house is located, and the same house two blocks away, in a different school district, could vary in price by $200,000.  This creates a situation that deepens the social and economic split between cities and suburbs, and this also deepens the political split, as there is almost no intercourse between urban and suburban communities that lie right next to each other.  Ironically, this situation was largely created by attempts to forcibly integrate public schools in the cities, schools which are now overwhelmingly black or hispanic.

The relative quiescence of the race issue since the 1980s has freed some suburbanites in liberal areas like the northeast to take a more liberal position than they would take if the sanctity of their neighborhood schools were threatened.  I think that in the wake of the failure of school integration, there has been a tacit agreement between liberals and conservatives that while they may occasionally pay lip service to the race issue, there's really no solution, and it's best to leave well enough alone on this issue and not push it further.  Likewise, it seems that blacks have decided that they no longer want real integration, but a better life within largely black communities.

There are too many factors to go into, but there has been a general pulling apart of American society.  The splits that are urban/suburban, black/white, etc. generally mirror the political splits.
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« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2005, 08:52:24 am »
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1) What are the population factors behind the growth of the suburbs?

Many. One possibility as to why there aren't huge net migrations to the suburbs: there's a population exchange going on. Many parents with children, especially middle-income ones (used to be mainly white ones, but nowadays that isn't neccesarily true), leave the cities for the suburbs. However, the cities compensate with influxes of newly arrived immigrants, young singles, childless couples, homosexuals, etc. who are less concerned about crime, education, large houses, 'family values', etc. 

2) Why are the suburbs so Republican? Is it class, race, family structure, or something else?

All of them. Suburbs tend to be middle to upper-middle income, prime ground for Republicans. They tend more white then cities, and the non-whites tend to be wealthier and more established. Also, parents with children tend to be more Republican. Throw in religion too - suburbs have more practicing Christians and fewer Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, Wicca, etc. then the norm (although this isn't an absolute rule).

This isn't universal. There are regional variations - compare New England suburbs (which are chiefly center-left) with Southern/Midwestern suburbs (which tend to more to the right).
Also, unlike most ethnic groups, there is little variation among blacks - with very few exceptions, they tend strongly Democrat regardless of income or location (although rural areas are very slightly more Republican, mainly due to social conservativism).

3) Why are the cities so Democratic? Is it class, race, family structure, or something else?

See above.
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« Reply #18 on: May 05, 2005, 08:01:33 pm »
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This will be a simple post compared to others on the thread, but I feel it needs saying.

There are a HUGE number of factors that go into the ultimate voting trend of a demographic or region.  There are multiple types of "poor" people, from the traditionalist, 'American dream' economics type to the liberals striving against what they feel is an unjust system.  Just like there are multiple types of poor, there are also multiple types of middle and upper class folks as well.

The Republican personality is both attracted to suburbs (and rural areas) and cultivated in suburbs.  The type of person who leaves the city to buy a house in a suburb is more likely to be Republican and the person raised in a suburb is more likely to have Republican values.
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« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2005, 02:34:12 pm »
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Thanks all for your replies. All quite fascinating.

The reason why I asked about the suburbs to begin with, is, that absent some gargantuan New-Dealish revolution to restore wealth equality in this country back to what it was in its heyday, and to restore parity among our three modern macroregions (city, suburb, country), it seems quite clear that the future of American living increasingly will be dominated by the suburbs. This has been the trend of the past 80 years, and barring what I mentioned or economic disaster, it will continue to be the trend for at least the next 20. Hence it seems that any political party that bases itself in winning over huge margins in the shrinking macroregions (city, rural) at the expense of the suburbs, as both parties increasingly are doing, are condemning themselves to a position in the long-term minority ; and that further, these shrinking macroregions are becoming less and less competitive and thus less and less relevant.

The growth of the suburban voter is no accident. Nor is it entirely due to the fact that a progressing people seek a comfortable life in the suburbs. The family will live in the suburbs and want to escape the city and country.

You must distinguish between the family voter and the single voter. The family is the most basic unit of society. You surely know by now I am not a social conservative, so this is no political hogwash. The family is the most basic unit of society primarily due to the rearing of children, presents many rewards but also makes demands, including stability, a decent income, health, finances, a social network, and planning. In short it demands responsibility and health, and in return it is self-perpetuating as children go on to emulate the parents. It is through the family that what we call social capital, in our postmodern day and age, in the absence of socialist cooperatives, is organized. On the other hand, the single voter, while he may be responsible, healthy, and be well connected to society, has no obligation of necessity to do so. He or she is ephemeral, rootless. Risk-taking yes, having more time and energy perhaps yes, younger yes, but she does not reproduce, and her situation is that of a minority.

What does this have to do with politics? Well, politics is an expression of society. Studies of partisan identification, political participation (including voting behavior and other forms of pariticipation), and public opinion all point to the fundamental part played by social context in each of these three political concepts. Social context is not everything, but no durabe political majority can be formed without an underlying social majority, or set of social majorities.

In the New Deal transition period, it was possible to form a coalition of a diverse set of distinct social entities, or sub-societies, within the umbrella of American culture. The industrial revolution generated a balance between the urban (from which unions arose), rural (from which farmers formed a large bloc), and suburban (the as yet Republican minority), a clash between the haves and the have-nots, and had weakened but not yet eliminated a different between geographic macroregions (North, South, West, as opposed to today's economic macroregions based on population density). The New Deal coalition and its reverse GOP coalition operated in kind of a bridge between agrarian and industrial societies; as it was still possible to form a majority out of fragments of America which were mutually balancing.

As industrialization consolidated and we move into the information economy, however, the economic macroregion balance is increasingly being disrupted by the growing dominance of the suburbs; the have vs have-not divide has become disrupted by the growing dominance of haves; the geographic macroregions are dissolving altogether in the face of southern and western development. We are used to thinking of our postmodern society as being more diverse, or heterogenous than industrial society; we have the image of the Leave-It-to-Beaver family that was the paragon of homogeneity, and we have the image of a relatively much more heterogenous society today. This view has been accepted not only in the common mind but by media, academic and government elites. But these post-industrial diversities of economic disparity, race, cultural values, and resurgent individualism mask an underlying counter-trend of increasing homogeneity:

1) while economic disparity has increased, the increase has mainly come due to the rising of a portion of the middle class into the upper middle class and the rising of a tiny minority in the very wealthy. It has come from changes at the top, not the bottom. And changes at the top are inherently log-limited in their form due to diminishing returns. In other words, there was more class warfare in the relatively egalitarian 1940's than there is in the highly unequal 2000's because the 1940's featured mass deprivation, having a car vs not having a car, whilst the inequality of the 2000's is the difference between a Kia and a Mercedes. A "have" in the 1940s might own a car worth $10,000 today; a "have-not" in the 1940s would own none. Today, the "have" owns a $100,000 Mercedes, the "have-not" owns a $15,000 Kia. Wealth inequality has increased tremendously, but the difference in the latter case is actually less when measured from a human perspective.
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Beet
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« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2005, 02:35:27 pm »
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2) while racial diversity has increased with immigration, racial discrimination, though still existent, and racial segregation, though still existent, is less today than it was in the 1950s and 60s. Thus while there are more different races today, ceteris paribus, race is not as defining as it once was, relatively speaking. Once again, on paper, heterogeneity has increased, but in reality, it has not, due to countervailing homogeneity forces.

3) while cultural values seem to have become more divisive over issues of abortion, the shift of the public attention away from bread-and-butter, every day economic issues to social issues such as school prayer, "decency", religion in government, etc. has undercut the salience of political issues as a whole. Conflict has moved away from real battle over real resources to a simulation, as Lunar I think you pointed out to me over in the off-topic board, modern society is increasingly defined by the image rather than the reality. This undercuts the supposed 'polarization' over social issues because these issues are a lot less tangible and salient to most people. Further, there is evidence the public isn't nearly as polarized as the elites themselves are-- and convince us that we are. The real story isn't polarization but trivializatio.

4) Robert Putnam's 2000 work "Bowling Alone" is supposed to epitomize the resurgence of individualism as a consequence of the postindustrial society and thus provide evidence for growing heterogeneity in our society. The elements of this are that people are no longer as tied to certain social groups like bowling leagues as they were, people now change jobs more frequently, and move around more frequently, etc. But this is not evidence of growing heterogeneity but growing homogeneity. In the industrial age, a person who grew up in a mill town and worked in a factory from age 18 in the same town knew little or nothing else beyond it. He was highly distinguished, highly diverse, comapred to say, a professional working in a city or someone living two states away. In today's more mobile world, people come into contact with more different kinds of environments, different kinds of people, and have more diverse experiences--- diversity which in the aggregate leads to more interactions and hence more homogeneity of the society as a whole!

In fact I would argue that America had the most heterogeneity antebellum, when the south and north were so different that they would actually go to war with one another. They really were virtually different countries. Not today. America has more in common with English-speaking, McDonald's patronizing, surrender-monkey France than the north had in common with the south before 1860. The only place in the world slavery is legalized today is Sudan. Image of Sudan was a U.S. state!

This long diatribe into the relatively heterogeneity of the New Deal coalition, whose cause can be traced to economic processes, and the relative homogeneity and increasing homogeneity of our postindustrial society, leads me to the political conclusion that a majority political coalition cannot be built by either the Republicans or Democrats without an effort to capture the dominant, emergent homogenous culture. This culture is emergent in the suburbs. It is emergent there because people want to live there, because families are there, and because families reproduce themselves and perpetuate, whereas the fringes of society, people who stay single, or those who are elderly, or those inner city minorities or poor whites who can't make it out of their rural home towns, do not self-perpetuate in a way that could, even if all their forces were combined, ultimately challenge the standard suburban family.

Hence, the suburban voter is the bedrock of politics, even more so now than 10 years ago, and even more so 10 years from now than today. Any successful political party must study the suburban voter, his likes and dislikes, the causes and determinants of his party choice, the social context factors that influence his thinking and interest. Politics will continue, in the absence of a crisis such as Sept. 11, to trend towards trivialization, as the human psyche attempts to create conflict to occupy itself, even as society becomes more and more homogenous around suburban social capital, around which the primary institution is the either church or the union, but mostly the former as of now.

The Democratic party, for one, can take no more sure step towards ultimate oblivion and extinction than to drift towards today's anti-suburban, anti-society, anti-social capital wing of itself, of adult BRTDs. No amount of voter registration drives, strangers knocking on doors of unfamiliar communities, college kids trying to mobilize inner city single mothers, will or can succeed as a suburban community of men and women, gathering together at church, and exploiting their social networks, to exhort their friends and neighbors and vote-- for our kind of people! For our values! For our way of life!
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« Reply #21 on: May 08, 2005, 09:23:19 am »
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Dude, we've finally found a guy who can spout out more stuff than I can! Smiley

You make a lot of interesting observations.  The ones about the differences between the haves and have-nots today, versus the 1940s, is particularly good.

One thing I would add, as a side effect to all this, is the different way poverty is perceived today versus then.  When the poor or relatively poor are part of the majority, poor people are ultimately viewed more as victims of circumstance or hard luck. 

Today, poverty is viewed, correctly in many cases, as a moral weakness.  I say correctly because there are cases in which moral weakness leads to poverty, through a complex interplay between illegitimacy, crime, drug abuse, and the degredation of available educational opportunities.  Despite the fact that the poor today are better off materially than in the 1940s, to be truly poor today is probably a lot worse today than it was then.
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« Reply #22 on: May 08, 2005, 09:56:00 am »
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Dude, we've finally found a guy who can spout out more stuff than I can! Smiley

You make a lot of interesting observations.  The ones about the differences between the haves and have-nots today, versus the 1940s, is particularly good.

One thing I would add, as a side effect to all this, is the different way poverty is perceived today versus then.  When the poor or relatively poor are part of the majority, poor people are ultimately viewed more as victims of circumstance or hard luck. 

Today, poverty is viewed, correctly in many cases, as a moral weakness.  I say correctly because there are cases in which moral weakness leads to poverty, through a complex interplay between illegitimacy, crime, drug abuse, and the degredation of available educational opportunities.  Despite the fact that the poor today are better off materially than in the 1940s, to be truly poor today is probably a lot worse today than it was then.

Thanks for your reply Dazzleman.

When you say that to be truly poor today is worse than in the 1940s, do you mean the truly poor today are worse off than in the 40s, or do you only mean that it requires greater moral weakness to be truly poor today than then?

This view of how poverty is looked at is interesting because it is all tied up with race. There's a substantial body of research out there that suggests that since poverty became tied up with images of welfare and blacks in the 1970s and 80s, tolerance of welfare programs and poverty has gone down a lot because it's viewed as "giving money to blacks." In fact, I think that there might soon be some evidence suggesting that the notion that blacks are lazy has declined since the end of welfare, but I'm not sure about that.

Also, I've heard it suggested that the Great Society changed people's perceptions of poverty in the opposite direction which you suggested... that prior to the 1960s, it was seen that if you were poor, this was a character fault, and that since then, it has come to be seen more as a facet of environment, although these people would probably categorize "illegitimacy, crime, drug abuse, and the degredation of available educational opportunities" as facets of environment rather than inherent personal factors.
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« Reply #23 on: May 08, 2005, 10:52:59 am »
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Thanks for your reply Dazzleman.

When you say that to be truly poor today is worse than in the 1940s, do you mean the truly poor today are worse off than in the 40s, or do you only mean that it requires greater moral weakness to be truly poor today than then?

A little of both.  I think the gap between the truly poor and the rest of society, both materially and culturally, is far greater than it was in the 1940s.  Being poor in the 1940s didn't necessarily mean living in a broken/abusive family, or in a high-crime drug-infested neighborhood, as it often does now, to a greater extent I believe than it did then.  Today, the truly poor are more isolated from society in every way, and the effect on their quality of life goes well beyond their dearth of material possessions relative to the rest of society.

This view of how poverty is looked at is interesting because it is all tied up with race. There's a substantial body of research out there that suggests that since poverty became tied up with images of welfare and blacks in the 1970s and 80s, tolerance of welfare programs and poverty has gone down a lot because it's viewed as "giving money to blacks." In fact, I think that there might soon be some evidence suggesting that the notion that blacks are lazy has declined since the end of welfare, but I'm not sure about that.

I think that the juxtaposition between welfare and blacks, which really came together in the 1960s, is unfortunate.  The majority of those on welfare were not blacks, though black participation was highly disproportionate to their share of the population.

Having said that, I think that Great Society welfare programs had a more devastating effect on blacks than on any other segment of the population.  I blame many of those welfare programs, and the overall philosophy behind them, for the precipitous collapse of the black family structure since 1965.  The damaging effects of this more than offset any good that those programs did, and this family structure collapse is one of the biggest factors in keeping large numbers of blacks cut off from the greater society, and mired in perpetual poverty.

I think liberals did blacks no favor in linking racial justice with highly questionable anti-poverty programs.

Also, I've heard it suggested that the Great Society changed people's perceptions of poverty in the opposite direction which you suggested... that prior to the 1960s, it was seen that if you were poor, this was a character fault, and that since then, it has come to be seen more as a facet of environment, although these people would probably categorize "illegitimacy, crime, drug abuse, and the degredation of available educational opportunities" as facets of environment rather than inherent personal factors.

Here, you're contradicting your previous paragraph.  I think that there is a difference between how people view poverty in general, and how they view their own poverty.

Prior to the New Deal, really, people tended to blame themselves for their own poverty, and were therefore very reluctant to accept charity or help.  The New Deal softened some of this attitude, and during the depression, poverty was a pretty normal condition, with external economic factors largely to blame.  There was no opportunity for most in society not to be poor.

By the time of the Great Society, the overall society was becoming quite affluent, and the Great Society, more so than the New Deal, was meant to deal with those who, for whatever reason, were unable to participate in the affluence being enjoyed by the larger society.  Because anti-poverty programs got tied in with the fight for racial equality, the notion of welfare as a promoter of social justice was created, and when the results of welfare became so obviously abysmal -- higher illegitimacy, crime, lack of work ethic, terrible attitude, etc. -- this gave weight to the idea that poverty was linked to moral failing, particularly among blacks.  And the proof was right in front of us, if the facts were interpreted in a certain way.

I think that during and after the Great Society, liberals who were not poor started to say that the poor were victims of circumstance, no matter how much their own decisions and behavior contributed to their situation.  Many of the poor themselves believed this, and those who did felt no responsibility to change their behavior.  But this is an argument that the liberals lost.
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« Reply #24 on: May 08, 2005, 10:11:06 pm »
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This will be a simple post compared to others on the thread, but I feel it needs saying.

There are a HUGE number of factors that go into the ultimate voting trend of a demographic or region.  There are multiple types of "poor" people, from the traditionalist, 'American dream' economics type to the liberals striving against what they feel is an unjust system.  Just like there are multiple types of poor, there are also multiple types of middle and upper class folks as well.

The Republican personality is both attracted to suburbs (and rural areas) and cultivated in suburbs.  The type of person who leaves the city to buy a house in a suburb is more likely to be Republican and the person raised in a suburb is more likely to have Republican values.

The suburban concept is a bit more complex than that.  This argument would fit more 15 years or so ago than it does now.  Their are quite a few once republican & now Democratic suburbs (& others who continue to shift leftward.  NYC's burbs of Long Island and Westchester ae great examples of this, so is the Philly burbs of Bucks, Montco & Deleware counties,  Fairfax VA is in the midst of going through the transition.  The suburbs of Seattle & portions of the Denver burbs are the same, & the San Francisco burbs were once Republican..  Now in certain parts of the country as wwith the Atlanta suburbs & Houston suburbs your argument is a bit truer, not so much with the suburbs in the Mid-Atlantic, North East & Pacific (minus Orange County) & even Orange, despite still being strongly GOP is not even close to as strongly GOP as it once was.

In the past it used to be Urban areas strongly Democratic, Suburban areas Strongly Republican, with the rural areas being more of a mixed bag,  depending on which rural area it was.  Now its more along the lines of Urban areas still being heavily Democratic, but now the rural areas are Strongly Republican & the suburban areas are the mixed bag depending on the area with some Democratic suburbs & some Republican suburbs.
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