Suburban voters less likely to be politically independent

The suburbs are the current political battleground and a recent report provides insights into several suburban political trends:

Fewer suburbanites describe themselves as politically independent than do residents of the nation’s urban and rural areas, according to a survey released Tuesday by the University of Chicago Harris School for Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The poll also found that the partisan leanings of suburban residents are closely linked to whether they have previously lived in a city…

Suburbanites who previously lived in a city are about as likely as city-dwellers to call themselves Democrats, the survey found. Similarly, Americans living in suburbs who have never resided in an urban area are about as likely as rural residents to say they are Republican…

That divide extends to the White House: 72 percent of ex-urban suburbanites disapprove of President Donald Trump’s performance in office, as do 77 percent of city residents. That compares with the 57 percent of suburbanites who have not previously lived in a city and 54 percent of rural Americans who say they disapprove of the president.

Suburbs may be more purple but that does not necessarily mean that suburbanites feel compelled to be avoid choosing a political party identification. Perhaps the regular interaction with suburbanites of other political backgrounds helps. Or, stating political independence in the city or rural areas is the more acceptable way of signaling a break from the geographic hegemony without completely going over to the other side.

This may be the hint of the final paragraph of the article with one experience from Jefferson County, Colorado:

“You’re welcome regardless of your political beliefs,” said Stern, a Democrat and volunteer firefighter in a suburban department with a wide range of political views in the station. “It becomes harder to live in rural or urban areas if your political beliefs don’t match those of the majority of the people who live there.”

Alas, this is just one story and it is nice to end a news story on a hopeful note. Are suburbanites really more willing to work across political lines? Local non-partisan elections might appear this way – though they can have their clear divides. Given political polarization in the United States, this may only last so long in any setting.

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