Most cities with populations greater than 250,000 people tend to have more liberal political institutions and public policy preferences, with about ten exceptions including Jacksonville, Florida, a new study explores.
Jacksonville, ranked the No. 5 most conservative city in the U.S. follows Mesa, AZ, Oklahoma City, OK, Virginia Beach, VA, and Colorado Springs, CO. The only other major cities to fall on the conservative side of the policy preference scale were Arlington, TX, Anaheim, CA, Omaha, NE, Tulsa, OK, and Aurora, CO.
UCLA and MIT researchers measured each city’s political preferences using data from seven large-scale surveys of the American public. These data included responses to dozens of policy questions asked of tens of thousands of Americans. Some of these questions included feelings about the environment, jobs, taxes, immigration, same sex marriage, abortion, health care reform, affirmative action, stem cell research, firearms, and foreign affairs.
The purpose of the study, however, was not to find out where people are the most conservative. Rather, it was to determine whether city policies are responsive to or reflect the mass sentiments of its people. For this, the authors find plenty of evidence to suggest that municipalities enact policies that correspond with the liberal-conservative positions of their people.
Interestingly, however, the study also finds that institutions such as having an elected mayor, partisan elections, at-large elections, and term limits are NOT consistently related to how responsive a city is to mass opinion.
Unsurprisingly, the Miami region in Florida is home to our state’s most liberal. But nowhere near San Francisco or D.C. on that scale.