The suburbs may hold the key to future electoral success

by Ryan Streeter on November 26, 2016. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

“The largest metropolitan constituency in the country, far larger than the celebrated, and deeply class-divided core cities, is the increasingly diverse suburbs,” write Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox.

Given the post-election commentary on both the left and the right, it’s easy to think that the election was all about the political establishment overlooking the white working class. But this isn’t quite right. We now know that Trump did far better among college-educated whites than predicted, and no one thought he would garner as many Latino votes as he did.

Kotkin and Cox point out a key reason why these surprises came to be: the suburbs. They write:

Trump won suburbia by a significant five percentage point margin nationally, improving on Romney’s two-point edge, and by more   outside the coastal regions…The states that voted for Trump enjoyed net domestic migration of 1.45 million from 2010 to 2015, naturally drawn from the states that were won by Hillary Clinton. Democrat-leaning ethnic groups, like Hispanics, are expanding rapidly, but Americans are moving in every greater numbers to the more conservative geographies of the Sun Belt, the suburbs and exurbs.

Kotkin has long been a critic of the idea that left-leaning urban areas with high numbers of creative class types will determine the political future of the country. Whether people are Democrats or Republicans, the data show the vast majority of them prefer to live in lower-tax areas with good schools and good jobs. And suburbs have been the places where those preferences are fulfilled. S0me significant percentage of people living there, regardless of politics, voted for Trump.

So rather than looking at the battle over the working class, party leaders should look at the battle over the suburbs as an important element in future electoral success.