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10 Differences between Conservative and Leftist Cities

Posted on November 15 2010 8:00 am
Scott Spiegel blogs at He can be reached at

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Originally published on November 14, 2010

Have you ever wondered what the differences are between conservative and leftist cities?  I’m not talking about the differences between skyscraper- and coffee-shop-heavy metropolises and old-fashioned small towns in middle America—I mean the differences between major U.S. cities that tend to lean right vs. left.

Well, Travel + Leisure Magazine just released their America’s Favorite Cities 2010 survey results, which score and rank 35 major U.S. cities by 10 categories and 54 subcategories. I decided to examine the extent to which a city’s general political affiliation—on a leftist to conservative spectrum—relates to their scores on the survey’s categories.

To determine cities’ political affiliation, I used a set of 2008 rankings provided by an environmentalist website called Sustain Lane. (Note: This was the best, most comprehensive and current source I could find, but I’m happy to redo my analyses if anyone can suggest better rankings.) Sustain Lane ranks cities by their mayors’ political affiliations and records in office, and the site’s analysis seems to have face validity. City rankings are listed below, from most leftist to most conservative:

1. Portland, OR
2. San Francisco
3. Seattle
4. Chicago
5. New York City
6. Boston
7. Minneapolis/St. Paul
8. Philadelphia
9. Baltimore
10. Denver
11. Austin
12. Washington, D.C.
13. Honolulu
14. Atlanta
15. Kansas City
16. San Diego
17. New Orleans
18. Los Angeles
19. Dallas/Fort Worth
20. Phoenix/Scottsdale
21. San Antonio
22. Miami
23. Houston
24. Nashville
25. Memphis
26. Las Vegas

On the following pages, I will report which city qualities were significantly related to political affiliation and in which direction. Please note: I make occasional reference to Charleston, Orlando, Salt Lake City, Santa Fe, and Savannah as conservative cities, since they featured prominently in Travel and Leisure’s results but were not ranked by Sustain Lane. In addition, I omit specific references to Austin, Washington, D.C., Honolulu, Atlanta, Kansas City, and San Diego, which all scored in the middle of the list, and Los Angeles, which scored on the conservative end of Sustain Lane’s list (which didn’t seem quite right to me.) For additional details on methodology, please see the final page.

First: Best Times to Visit…

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