Demographics

The Most Liberal and Conservative Cities, Mapped

Washington Post: “The nonpartisan political tech startup, Crowdpac, attempted to rank every city (with a population over 6,000) by looking at which federal and state candidates their city residents have donated to since 1980. (Over 100 million donations in total.)”

“What Crowdpac found probably won’t surprise you; people in cities tend to be more liberal than people in rural areas, and the United States is increasingly divided into two — the liberal coast and the more conservative South and Midwest/Mountain West. According to its rankings, here are the 10 most conservative and most liberal communities in the United States. (You can check your town’s ranking here.)”

What Happened to America’s Middle Class?

City Lab: “America’s middle class has been steadily shrinking since 1971, and now this segment of the U.S. population is around the same size as the layers above and below it combined, a new analysis by Pew Research Center finds. It’s ‘a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point,’ Pew says.”

“In 2015, middle-income Americans (adults in a three-person household with annual income between $42,000 and $126,000) made up about half of the U.S. population, down steadily from 61 percent since 1971. In absolute numbers, this middle-income band now contains around 120 million people, which is almost the same as the total number of Americans in the other economic tiers combined (121 million).”

“The uppermost tier is also getting a larger slice of the proverbial pie than it was before, both because it now contains more people and because these people are rapidly making more and more. In 2014, almost half the total income in the U.S. went to this relatively small share of the population, compared to 29 percent in 1970.”

Where do the Brainiest Americans Live?

Citylab: “While nearly 40 percent of Americans have a college degree and about a third of workers are members of the creative class, just 11 percent of adults 25 and over have a graduate or professional degree. But where exactly are these super-brains located?”

“To get at this, my Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) colleague Karen King used data from the 2011-2013 American Community Survey to identify the geography of the extremely highly educated across all 381 U.S. metros. MPI’s Isabel Ritchie made the maps, and we separated out the results for large metros with over one million people.”

“Washington, D.C., tops this list of large metros with 23 percent of residents holding an advanced or professional degree. Following closely behind are San Jose, Boston, San Francisco, and Hartford. Baltimore (home to Johns Hopkins), New York City, Raleigh in the North Carolina Research Triangle, Denver, and Rochester round out the top ten.”

Economy Bumped for Terrorism as Americans’ Top Concern

Gallup: “After the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, Americans are now more likely to name terrorism as the top issue facing the U.S. than to name any other issue — including those that have typically topped the list recently, such as the economy and the government. About one in six Americans, 16%, now identify terrorism as the most important U.S. problem, up from just 3% in early November.”

Recent Trends in "Most Important" U.S. Problems

“This is the highest percentage of Americans to mention terrorism in a decade, although it is still lower than the 46% measured after 9/11. Before 2001, terrorism barely registered as the most important problem facing the country.”

“In the past, mentions of terrorism as the most important U.S. problem have quickly fallen after a major incident. But two major attacks in short succession, at a time when concern about terrorism was already elevated given the threat of the Islamic State, have Americans on edge.”

Is a Democratic Recovery Possible?

Dylan Matthews in Vox answers this question, given the Democrats’ Congressional losses under Obama.

“After reviewing the numbers, and talking to some political scientists doing research on related issues, I think pessimists are too pessimistic, but they also have a point. A Democratic recovery is possible, but it’ll take a while.”

“It’s normal for the party in the White House to lose ground elsewhere. That said, as this graphic by Vox’s Sarah Frostenson demonstrates, Obama’s losses in the House are bigger than even those suffered by Republicans under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, or by Democrats under Bill Clinton when their decades-long stranglehold over the body finally ended in 1994. Nixon and Ford may have lost more at the state legislature level than Obama, but Obama’s losses dwarf those of any two-term president since.”

“However, governorships and the Senate are a more mixed story, with Clinton posting larger losses:”

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Trump’s Bigoted Comments Appeal to a GOP Majority

Vox: “Donald Trump’s Monday evening call to ban all Muslims from entering the United States — including US citizens — was condemned by virtually everybody in American public life, right and left.”

“But Trump thrives on elites calling him out for being a bigot. It’s the Republican primary electorate Trump is playing to — and he’s got a decent chance of succeeding, as the chart below shows.”

“The World Values Survey, an annual poll from the Public Religion Research Institute released in November, asked Americans whether “the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life.” Below are the results, broken down by Republicans, Democrats, and the entire American population (including Ds, Rs, and independents):”

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GOP Moves Forward in Party Preference

Gallup: “Americans’ party preferences are closely divided, with 43% identifying as Democrats or leaning Democratic and 41% identifying as Republicans or leaning Republican. The parties have been essentially tied since August, representing a shift from months prior when Democrats had the party affiliation advantage.”

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“While some observers may have predicted that the controversial statements and positions of leading GOP candidates such as Trump and Ben Carson could hurt the party’s image, these results show that on the contrary, the Republican Party’s standing relative to the Democratic Party has improved since the spring.”

“Given usual Republican advantages in election turnout, having party preferences closely divided among national adults would be a sign of a potentially strong Republican year. But as the 2015 trend shows, party preferences can shift over the course of a year, and one party can gain, or lose, an advantage fairly quickly.”

A Partisan Divide on Climate Change Concerns

Washington Post: “A clear but declining majority of Americans say climate change is a serious problem facing the United States in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with giant partisan disagreement on all aspects of the issue.”

“Sixty-three percent of Americans say climate change is a serious problem facing the country, slipping from 69 percent in June. Just over half say the issue is ‘very serious,’ also dipping by a similar amount.”

“The poll finds that nearly half of Americans, 47 percent, say the federal government should do more to deal with global warming than it does today, marking a decline from 61 percent in 2008 during the final year of George W. Bush’s presidency.”

“The large gap between perception and reality of scientific agreement reflects the heated nature of political debates over policy on the issue, as well as the impact of efforts to raise skepticism about scientific consensus. A Yale University study published this month found a tight connection between corporate funding and publications raising doubts about long-term climate change.”

“The survey finds that the biggest partisan disagreements exist among those with more education. Among people who have graduated from college, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are 43 percentage points more likely than Americans who lean Republican to say scientists agree on global warming. Among those without college degrees, the partisan gap is 22 points, about half as large.”

Why the Whitening of the GOP is Bad for the Party

Chris Cillizza: These two charts “explain the fundamental problem that sits at the heart of Republicans’ uphill quest to win back the White House in 2016 and beyond.”

“The trend lines are clear: Whites aren’t going to suddenly see their numbers grow as a percentage of the overall electorate and the number of Hispanics isn’t going to stop increasing. Consider this remarkable fact from the 2010 Census: More than half of the growth in the total population of the United States between 2000 and 2010 was the result of the increase in Latino population. More than half!”

“Arizona and, eventually, Texas, will move toward Democrats at the presidential level if current demographic and political trends continue unabated.”

“What’s fascinating is that this demographic and electoral problem that plagues Republicans at the presidential level isn’t replicated downballot … Subtract the White House and there’s no real debate that the Republican Party is the healthier of the two. The GOP controls the Senate, the House, 31 governors mansions and all or part of 38 of the nation’s 50 state legislatures.”

Can the Koch Brothers Win Over Latinos?

Greg Sargent: “The Koch brothers are sinking big money into an expanding effort to win over Latino voters in the 2016 cycle with a simple message: Don’t go with the party that will make you reliant on government. Vote Republican instead.”

“Ashley Parker of the New York Times reports that the conservative billionaire Kochs are helping to bankroll a multi-million-dollar effort to reach out to Latino voters, called the Libre Initiative, that is meant to fill a vacuum left by the Republican Party, which the group thinks has failed miserably in this outreach mission.”

“The trouble with all this is that Latinos tend to support the overall Democratic governing vision — and not the Republican one — when it comes to economic issues and health care, too.”

“If the Koch-funded group’s core message is that Democratic economic and health care policies produce an over-reliance on government — whereas scaling back government and unleashing the power of free enterprise are the only true solutions to maximizing opportunity and self-realization for Latinos — it would not be surprising if many of them end up rejecting its fundamental animating principles this time around, too.”

Americans Hate Government But They Like What it Does

Washington Post: “The Pew Research Center has just released a fascinating deep-dive on how Americans feel about government … One finding stands out: Even if Americans don’t trust the government, they still want the government to do a whole bunch of stuff.”

“The low level of trust in government is not surprise … Small wonder, then, that only 19 percent of Americans interviewed in this Pew survey said that they trusted the government always or most of the time.”

“But when given along list of issues, most Americans still wanted government to have a ‘major role’ in handling those issues. The vast majority (94 percent) thought government should help keep us safe from terrorism. About three-quarters said that it should have a major role in strengthening the economy, protecting the environment and maintaining the nation’s infrastructure. Majorities also wanted the government to play a major role in helping the poor and seniors.”

“In fact, what’s striking is that majorities of both Republicans and Democrats felt this way on most of these issues. Here’s a graph from Pew:”

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