Best Places to Live

2016 Best Cities for Moderates

Think both the Trump followers and Clinton supporters are too extreme? If so, cast your ballot for this list: the 2016 Best Cities for Moderates. (And if that sounds like the wrong list for you, try the Best Cities for Liberals or Best Cities for Conservatives).

Why are we doing this ranking? Check the introduction for the full rationale but in short: in today’s divided country it’s easy to grow weary of all the bickering from left to right. There has to be some middle ground, right? And that’s what this list offers: the middle ground.

To find these moderate oases, we crunched election data, looking at places that didn’t swing too far to the right or left in 2012. We also turned to Esri for data on where moderates live and take part in political activities. Then we worked with Simmons Research to identify a TV network, an automobile maker, a restaurant, a retailer and a magazine that moderates tend to gravitate towards. This we call our “basket of goods.”

Once we had this basket, we looked for populations that buy these goods in the extreme, figuring that you’d want to have more in common with your neighbors than just your political yard signs.

Thus, here are the results of our 2016 Moderate Cities ranking. Let us know what you think. Are these places down-the-middle enough for you?


Ranking Criteria
2012 Presidential Election Results
Current Political Representation
Registered Voters
Consumer Habits
  • 10

    Greenville, SC

    Population: 61,734
    Photo courtesy of VisitGreenvilleSC/ProBros Production

    Greenville, S.C. voters identify themselves as a bit more liberal than the normal American—though interestingly, Romney also beat out Obama here by the largest margin of all the moderate cities, 63 to 35.2 percent. Yet local leadership is currently run by Mayor Knox H. White, a Republican. Locals, then, are ruled by no extreme, but instead vote with what best suits each situation.

    Why Greenville Is One of the Best Places to Live in America

    Greenville is in the 4th Congressional District, and Trey Gowdy—a Republican and a Tea Party member—represents the region. While he is considered a tried and true Republican, GovTrack actually rates him as falling in the middle of the conservative spectrum for Republicans. Moreover, of the 87 bills he has co-sponsored, 14 percent were introduced by a non-Republican—showing a willingness to participate in a bipartisan partnership above that of all other South Carolina delegates and 71 percent of House Republicans.

    When Mayor White came into office, one of his main goals was to make Greenville “the most beautiful and livable city in America”—and he’s certainly made great strides in this direction. In fact, Greenville has landed on our 100 Best Places to Live three years running, and has been ranked as having one of America’s 10 Best Downtowns two years in a row.

    Greenville: One of the 99 Best Cities for Beer

    Besides looking beautiful, it’s a great place to take time to appreciate beauty across the board, thanks to its roaring arts scene. There are four independent theaters, a performing arts center, two arenas, multiple arts festivals, and several arts museums. Plus, there’s also a thriving social dance scene in the town, with swing dancing being a popular Tuesday night ritual at Upstate Swing.

    Residents here are likely to…

    • Eat at Cracker Barrel.

    • Shop at Hobby Lobby.

    • Drive a GMC.

    • Read Better Homes & Gardens.

    • Watch ABC Family.