Joel Kotkin argues that both major American political parties would do well to develop a strategy that would consistently appeal to the suburban vote. Here is how one journalist describes Kotkin’s view of American politics at the moment:
Demography in the US favors the Democrats. The fastest growing parts of the electorate don’t look good for Republicans.
Job creation will be the biggest public policy theme for some time to come, and Republicans haven’t quite gotten this issue right even as Democrats botch it.
Class, more than race, will determine America’s political future. The wide swath of largely suburban, skilled workers is up for grabs, and neither party has a vision for improving their quality of life – which is why they keep wreaking havoc on each Party’s plans.
Republicans have failed among Latinos and millennials and will pay for it for some time to come if they don’t reverse the trends they’ve helped start.
Kotkin has been talking about this for a while – he suggested right after this last election that the results went against the “creative class” and more middle-class suburbanites voted for Republicans.
So what would a successful suburban strategy look like? When I looked at all the campaign material that came to my house and listened to candidates talk leading up to the last election, many of them were going after the middle class vote: making homeownership a priority, talk about job creation, keeping the American Dream alive. But if Kotkin is right, the middle class swung one way in 2008 and then another way in 2010.
One way to approach this would be to think what suburbanites have historically sought in moving to suburbs: some space, getting away from the city (the noise, health issues, crime, “others”), owning a single-family home, good schools, good jobs, safety (particularly for kids), and a suburban lifestyle. It seems like both parties could approach these issues, though they might do so from different angles.