VA Beach 3rd most conservative city in US via MIT/UCLA study
It should be no surprise that the City that loves jet noise–and hates cursing–is one of the most conservative cities in America.
The study, “Representation in Municipal Government,” which, as reported by The Economist, brought together seven large-scale surveys that accounted for more than 275,000 people, analyzed citizens’ feelings on a range of policy issues, including health care, education, immigration, climate change, obesity, and affordable housing.
The only American cities with populations over 250,000 that are more conservative than Virginia Beach are Mesa, Arizona, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Norfolk, with a 2013 population of 246,139, was not included in the survey.
While the Atlantic Ocean might draw its share of tie-dye wearing hippies to VB, there are a number of factors that contribute to its conservativeness. For one, Virginia, as a state, has the most veterans per capita, a group that historically leans right, to go along with Virginia Beach’s numerous active military installations.
VB is also one of the largest cities in the Commonwealth by land mass, creating a sprawling environment where citizens of different backgrounds are less likely to form casual connections. As stated by Pew in their summation of a 10,000+ person survey, “It is an enduring stereotype – conservatives prefer suburban McMansions while liberals like urban enclaves – but one that is grounded in reality.”
Not to mention the fact that Virginia Beach’s mayor, of course, works in finance, another typically-right leaning profession.
While Obama took Virginia in 2008, Virginia Beach favored McCain. Same held for 2012, when Virginia Beach voted Romney, while the Commonwealth as a whole voted Obama.
The intent of the report, which can be viewed in full here, was not to simply build a reliable study of cities’ relative placing on a conservative/liberal curve, but rather to determine if local governments are responsive to the policy leaning of their citizens. From The Economist:
With lawmakers in Washington achieving precious little, cities and the suburbs are increasingly the places where things get done… Local leaders have more real-world problems to contend with and more power to address them. They are also less hindered by political turf battles and relentless campaigns, so they are more likely to take on the kind of big challenges that daunt federal politicians. This means mayors and governors are busily working to kick-start their economies, invest in critical transportation infrastructure and reform education. They are also far more dynamic than the federal government in areas such as immigration, climate change and obesity.
The UCLA/MIT study points to a conclusion that our leaders are conservative or liberal as a reflection of their constituents’ politics. In other words, it’s not our mayors and council members we should be complaining about, or to; it’s our neighbors and ourselves; those that vote and the silent majorities that don’t bother.
My take-away from these studies is a bolstering of a truth I’ve long held: the politics that has the biggest impact on your life is local politics, and the politics you’re most likely to influence is local as well. We get the communities that we deserve, as a reflection of our involvement in them.
Whenever I hear someone say ‘same-sex marriage will ruin the fabric of society,’ I get a massive confidence boost because someone thinks my very existence is so powerful. We do live in Virginia, so I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised by the blow back the Bostic V. Rainey case is generating within the religious [...]February 6, 2014
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