Thursday, February 28, 2008

Suburban Demographics

The below is quoted from "The Search for The Next Soccer Mom" in the Wall Street Journal (2/28/08). The article highlights several trends being watched by demographers that may play a role in the 2008 Presidential Election. Given that I'm a suburbanite, this portion of the piece, among others, caught my eye:

The suburbs are the contested terrain. According to Robert Lang of Virginia Tech, Thomas Sanchez of the University of Utah and Alan Berube of Brookings, Republican voters used to dominate the suburbs, but "with these areas becoming larger scale, quasi-urban environments, they are highly contested spaces that contain some of the nation's most important swing districts."

"Density equals Democrats," they argue, because the social environment and housing types in these areas tend to draw more Democratic leaning voters. Conversely, the farther out you get from the urban core, the more voters lean toward the GOP. Hence, strong Mr. Bush and GOP performance in the emerging suburbs and exurbs that lie on the fast-growing metropolitan fringe (52% growth between 1990 and 2005, compared to only 11% in the innermost suburbs).

But in 2006, the Democrats were more competitive in the metropolitan fringe and dominated the rest of suburbia. As Messrs. Lang, Sanchez and Berube put it, "The metropolitan political battle line is not neatly split between city and suburbs, but instead now mostly lies in the transition areas between mature and emerging suburbs." In 2006, the Democrats pushed that battle line fairly far out into the emerging suburbs. In 2008, the battle may turn on whether they can hold that line or whether the GOP can push it back into the mature suburbs.

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