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Thread: Planning and National Politics

  1. #1

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    Planning and National Politics

    I'm playing with a theory in my mind now, so please bear with me.

    In all my reading about the November presidential elections, I'm still finding lots of discussion about "red" and "blue" states, and how evenly divided the electorate is right now. I'm sure you all see it, too -- "blue" states (meaning heavily Democrat) concentrated on the coasts, and "red" states (heavily Republican) concentrated in the South, the Plains and Mountain states. However, I'm wondering if metro area size or density, regardless of location, is an indicator of state's red or blue status. If so, the planning profession may play a role in the electoral process.

    I'm guessing that in most states that voted Democrat in 2000, there were huge Democrat vote margins in the large metro areas that make up a large percentage of a state's population, and large Republican vote margins outside of those metro areas. Illinois was certainly like that. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing California was like that. On the other hand, I think that states that voted Republican in 2000 had smaller metro areas where the Dem/GOP vote was much more even (or slightly in favor of Republicans), and large vote margins for Republicans in smaller cities and towns. Missouri and Indiana might be an example of that.

    As the 2004 election approaches, the same patterns may be in place. So, does it seem plausible that the presence, size and density of metro areas within a state might be an indicator of how that state would vote? If so, is it possible that some Southern states like Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, with rapidly growing metro areas, might move more toward becoming "blue"? And that states Midwestern states like Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, with stagnant or declining metro areas, might become "red"?

    And in any case, do we planners, who have a huge role in the creation of the built environment, also have a larger role in national electoral politics than we may have thought?

  2. #2
    Interesting thoughts... I think you gotta remember that although the Sunbelt's rapidly growing, it's rapidly growing with sprawl, not dense development. So if density is a predictor of political opinion, the growth of Atlanta and Houston won't sway Georgia and Texas into the blue. I don't really think that density is directly tied to liberalism anyway... steer clear of the assumption that "city" = "dense," and "small town" = "sprawl." The small towns of the Northeast are much more dense than new big cities of the West.

    Austin, the liberal bastion of Texas, is slightly more dense than Houston. But I think the fact that it's a huge overgrown college town has more to do with its politics than the density itself. In North Carolina I think you'd find too that the Triangle Region (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) is more liberal than the rest of the state, but also due to the universities. Charlotte is rapidly expanding and remains pretty conservative.

    The James Carville quote about Pennsylvania's political leanings does ring true though. "It's Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between."

    BTW, you can check out http://www.ersys.com for the political breakdowns of cities across the country, among other stats.

  3. #3

    Urban Democrats

    While there are exceptions to every rule, urban areas tend to be majority Democrats.

    Though Atlanta hasn't turned the entire state of GA into a "Blue" state, the majority of democrats in GA are near/in urban areas. There are 1,087,169 registered democrats in the state of GA. 45% of these democrats are from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, & 5th US Congressional Districts (CD) which contain the six largest (pop) cities in Georgia, Atlanta, August, Columbus, Savannah, Athens & Macon. Now this doesn’t mean that the majority of voters in the CDs are democrats, but it does mean that a large portion of registered democrats are from urban areas.

    I won’t go into the same details, but many states show similar patterns.

    Michigan, a battleground state can go either way, but the majority of South Eastern Michigan tends to vote i.e. Democratic, John Conyers, Kwame Kilpatrick. The rest of MI tends to vote GOP. Most Western Michigan voters blame the Detroit area for giving Gore the MI electoral votes in 2000.

    70% of registered voters in Baltimore are DEMs.

    In Los Angeles 56.8 % of registered voters are DEMs, 21.4% are GOPs, and 21.8 % are Ind.

    I could keep going, but I think you get the idea.

    There is a lot of speculation as to why this...
    1. Large Minority Populations in the Urban areas.
    2. Democrats typically have more favorable urban policies.
    3. City Taxes tend to be higher, and one of the major tenets of the GOP is less taxes.

    The list goes on and on...

    Another interesting piece of urban politics: Most GOPs are completely opposed to giving Washington, DC Statehood and therefore Congressional Representation. Senator Kennedy said many years ago this is because DC is "too liberal, too urban, too democratic, and too black."

    But that is a whole other issue.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    http://cabernet.caliper.com/Maptitud...ection/map.asp

    this map reverses the colors but urban areas are immediately visible
    as are indian reservations and the black counties of the carolinas.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    in this one, the cotton belt (stretching from miss. up to north carolina) is loud and clear as is the tobacco belt of southeastern VA and northeastern NC

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/vote2000/cbc/map.htm
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  6. #6
          freewaytincan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DianaRatcliff
    While there are exceptions to every rule, urban areas tend to be majority Democrats.
    Don't expect that to last much longer.



    Quote Originally posted by DianaRatcliff
    Another interesting piece of urban politics: Most GOPs are completely opposed to giving Washington, DC Statehood and therefore Congressional Representation. Senator Kennedy said many years ago this is because DC is "too liberal, too urban, too democratic, and too black." But that is a whole other issue.
    Ah, good ol' Ted Kennedy. The bastard never fails to astound me.

  7. #7
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by freewaytincan
    Don't expect that to last much longer.

    [snip]

    Ah, good ol' Ted Kennedy. The bastard never fails to astound me.
    (Dan) I don't see a smiley.

    I don't care if it's the left or right being bashed; inflammatory and polarizing posts shouldn't be posted outside of the Friday Afternoon Club. Don't do it again.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Doitnow!!'s avatar
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    And in any case, do we planners, who have a huge role in the creation of the built environment, also have a larger role in national electoral politics than we may have thought?
    I think planners come after the politics is in shape. Suppose you become the advisor to the political parties then you are as good as a politician, how much ever good your intentions are.

    Here's my reaction to you 'theory in mind'.

    I did a paper once titled' Politics of Environment' in college. All I talked was about the the 'Politics of Planning'.
    If I am not getting the picture wrong, the politicians all over the world look at Human settlements( urban or rural) quite differently as we planners see it.
    Its just over fifty years since India got independence from the british and still the physical planners have not been recognised as major players in shaping the society and translating national visions and policies into reality.( the britishers understood the importance of Planning very well mind you).

    In a few weeks from now, India is going for its general elections too and its considered one of the largest ever exercises of it's kind in the world. India is the largest democracy in the world by the way.

    1.Only in the last few years have psephologists, politicians and the media started analysing and presenting data etc on maps. MAny have started using GIS too. I consider civilian applications of GIS as good as giving respect to planners( even if we are not involved directly in the process). A good GIS approach( I agree that it's just a tool but a very good one mind you) totally changes the way we look at things.
    2. Regional imbalances have always been political issues of winning as well as loosing ( including lampooning). Only now are the poticians in India realising that unless you have strong, clearly defined spatial plans and policies( or just even the implications) these regional imbalances cannot be sorted out. So that's a positive sign for regional planners.
    3. As cities are getting larger and larger and competition between citites not only at national level but also international level is a major factor for development as well as an issue for politics, the 'Vision Documents' and 'City Image' plans are more and more involving urban planners in the fray. Changing from the typical government led approach of doing the plans slowly and not being able to enforce them at all and having chaotic cities, now the government and especially the polticians are listening to planners more and more.

    SO I see that the role of planners is improving now, albeit slowly. And we shouldn'texpect this to happen so quickly too.

    Its a planners dream to hear the politicians talk about urban, rural or regional issues in their election campaigns. I think we planners want to hear it more because we want to feel important.( well we are important, don't we know it guys :-P )

    Imagine if every body else starts talking planning jargon without understanding the implication, how irritating we would feel.

    I would personally want the politicians to understand the importance of planning( its all about being proactive and pre-emptive) but not want them to know that planning as a tool in the hands of politicians can be a dangerous tool.

    We have suffered terribly because of this. We have terrible regional imbalances out here.

    I dunno about the USA, but in India, I am happy with the way things are moving slowly and positively.( the biigest risk i the slow pace of awareness is that the cities and regions will get more and more irreversibly devastated )

    PS
    I hope I don't have to attach a disclaimer, but in anycase the above mentioned points are purely my personal opinion.
    "I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them".
    -Isaac Asimov

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