Amongst pundits sifting through the election returns, I have only seen Joel Kotkin explore how votes broke down by broad location categories: cities vs. suburbs. Before the election, Kotkin suggested that both parties were fighting over middle-class suburbanites (and the Democrats were losing at this). Afterward, he continues this argument and suggests the creative class and bourgeois bohemians were overwhelmed by the middle-class, suburban vote:
More than anything, this election marked a shift in American class dynamics. In 2008 President Obama managed to win enough middle-class, suburban voters to win an impressive victory. This year, those same voters deserted, rejecting policies more geared to the “creative class” than mainstream America.
A term coined by urban guru Richard Florida, “the creative class” also covers what David Brooks more cunningly calls “bourgeois bohemians”–socially liberal, well-educated, predominately white, upper middle-class voters. They are clustered largely in expensive urban centers, along the coasts, around universities and high-tech regions. To this base, Obama can add the welfare dependents, virtually all African-Americans, and the well-organized legions of public employees…
But the real decider–to use George W. Bush’s unfortunate phrase–remains the much larger, more amorphous middle class. Given the economy of the past two years, the subsequent alienation of this group should pose no mystery. Suburban swing voters didn’t suddenly turn into racists or right-wing cranks. Instead they have seen, correctly, that Obama’s economic policy has to date worked to the advantage of others far more than themselves or their families. Until the Democrats and Obama can prove that they once again can serve the interests of these voters, they will continue to struggle to recapture the optimism so appropriate two years ago.
I would love to see some actual numbers on this. It seems like Richard Florida could post some maps like he has recently been doing on Atlantic.com that would correlate voting patterns with the presence of the creative class.
I wonder if Kotkin would suggest this is a continuation of the older “culture wars” idea (progressives vs. conservatives, religious vs. non-religious, etc.) or a new trend (the creative class vs. middle-class suburbanites).
More broadly, how big will the creative class in America grow to be? Is it possible, or even desirable, that a significant number of Americans become part of the creative class or the bourgeois bohemians?
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