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On a scale of 1 to San Francisco, how liberal is your city?

On a scale of 1 to San Francisco, how liberal is your city?

The most conservative major cities in the United States are Oklahoma City, Virginia Beach and Mesa, Ariz., according to two political scientists who collated reams of data from several large surveys to estimate how liberal or conservative people are in municipalities across the country. The researchers, Christopher Warshaw of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Chris Tausanovitch of the University of California, Los Angeles, wanted to know to what degree local governments respond to public opinion — or whether city halls are controlled by corrupt old boys’ clubs that ignore what their citizens want. Fortunately for democracy, Warshaw and Tausonivitch concluded, municipal governments are indeed representative of their cities. More liberal cities have more liberal governments.

The authors could not find evidence that the structure of city government affected how closely municipal policy aligns with citizens’ preferences. Their paper is forthcoming.

Although Mesa is a conservative place, cities in general lean to the left, as this study confirms. The most liberal cities according to Warshaw and Tausanovitch’s ranking — San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. — are much more liberal than Mesa is conservative.

This chart used by permission. A tip of the hat to Conrad Hackett.

Max Ehrenfreund | August 28, 2014 at 8:04 am
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