Where the smart people live

Increasingly, it is in city centers.  Tom Edsall has a really interesting look at the changing demographics of American cities. Short version: there’s a lot of gentrification and a lot of Hispanics moving in.  What I found most interesting was these two charts of how Charlotte, NC has changed in the past couple of decades:

clt1 clt2

The fat left of those charts is really pretty amazing.  And Edsall writes that Charlotte is quite representative.  It’s certainly been happening here in Raleigh.  As for the political implications of all this:

The advantages for Democrats of these population transitions are notable. First, in big cities, a transformation of the white versus black struggle for power is increasingly a three-way contest: whites versus blacks versus Hispanics. Racial conflict is becoming more diluted.

Second, as the black and Hispanic populations disperse, these heavily Democratic constituencies will influence the election outcomes in an increasing number of congressional districts. This will lessen one of the Democrats’ liabilities: the huge concentration of favorable voters in city districts that vote Democratic by 3 to 1 or better margins, effectively wasting voters who would be more beneficial to the party if located in competitive districts.

On the plus side for Republicans, the influx into the suburbs of minorities and the poor – which raises the possibility of attendant tax increases, property value declines, social service demands and crime — could push local whites to the right, into Republican arms.

As for me, I continue to look with disdain on those in the exurbs, but really do enjoy my big house and big yard (relatively speaking) in a very diverse inner suburb.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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