November 17, 2014

WHEREAS IF THEY CARED ABOUT HELPING THE POOR...:

THE PROGRESSIVES' WAR ON SUBURBIA (Joel Kotkin, 11/17/2014, New Geography)

You are a political party, and you want to secure the electoral majority. But what happens, as is occurring to the Democrats, when the damned electorate that just won't live the way--in dense cities and apartments--that  you have deemed is best for them?   

This gap between party ideology and demographic reality has led to a disconnect that not only devastated the Democrats this year, but could hurt them in the decades to come. University of Washington demographer Richard Morrill notes that the vast majority of the 153 million Americans who live in  metropolitan areas with populations of more than 500,000  live in the lower-density suburban places Democrats think they should not. Only 60 million live in core cities.      

Despite these realities, the Democratic Party under Barack Obama has increasingly allied itself with its relatively small core urban base. Simply put, the party cannot win--certainly not in off-year elections--if it doesn't score well with suburbanites. Indeed, Democrats, as they retreat to their coastal redoubts, have become ever more aggressively anti-suburban, particularly in deep blue states such as California.  "To minimize sprawl" has become a bedrock catchphrase of the core political ideology.   

As will become even more obvious in the lame duck years, the political obsessions of the Obama Democrats largely mirror those of the cities: climate change, gay marriage, feminism, amnesty for the undocumented, and racial redress. These may sometimes be worthy causes, but they don't address basic issues that effect suburbanites, such as stagnant middle class wages, poor roads, high housing prices, or underperforming schools. None of these concerns elicit much passion among the party's true believers.

The miscalculation is deep-rooted, and has already cost the Democrats numerous House and Senate seats and at least two governorships. Nationwide, in areas as disparate as east Texas and Maine or Colorado and Maryland, suburban voters deserted the Democrats in droves. The Democrats held on mostly to those peripheral areas that are very wealthy--such as Marin County, California or some D.C. suburban counties--or have large minority populations, particularly African-American.


...they'd be at war with cities, The Neighborhood Effect: Localities and Upward Mobility (Jonathan Rothwell, November 12, 2014, Brookings)
 

In a new analysis published in Economic Geography, Douglas Massey of Princeton and I find that another element of parental advantage--the neighborhood in which they raise their children--matters a great deal. The effect of neighborhood income is 50 to 66 percent of the parental income effect, so that growing up in a poor neighborhood would wipe out much of the advantage of growing up in a wealthy household. Lifetime earnings are $900,000 (or $730,000 in net present value terms) higher for those raised in top quintile neighborhoods than for individuals from bottom quintile neighborhoods. That is slightly larger than the difference between the average college and high school graduate.





Posted by at November 17, 2014 4:12 PM
  

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