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Best Cities for Liberals, Conservatives and Moderates

Politics and purchases play into our selection for these Top 10 Political Cities lists

By Matt Carmichael on October 20, 2014


Where are the best places for liberals, centrists and conservatives to live? It’s a question on the mind of many as we head into the 2014 midterm elections with control over the Senate at stake, as well as many governor’s mansions and positions from the local level on up.

The Top 10 Best Political Cities:

Best Cities for Liberals  

Best Cities for Moderates

Best Cities for Conservatives

Blagica Bottigliero is a former Chicagoan who moved with her family to Minneapolis for a job opportunity but is now considering returning to Illinois. The elections are weighing heavily on her decisions.

“We’ll most likely be back in Illinois, but our level of excitement will definitely be impacted by the gubernatorial race,” she says.

It seems that around every election you hear people saying if their favored candidate loses, they’ll just give up and move to Canada. News sites even run helpful guides on emigrating from the U.S.

Running for the border might be little extreme, but politics can be a factor in relocation decisions.

In the end, the election results might not stop Bottigliero, but she says it will impact her life if she returns. She’s especially worried how the election might impact school funding, and if her candidate loses, she plans to become more actively involved in the local issues of her new home.

“I will be spending more time working to ensure the public education in wherever neighborhood we end up in is solid and sustainable for the community,” she says.

As a nation, we have become more polarized, and we live in areas more concentrated with people who think, or at least vote alike. Just 40 years ago, fewer than a quarter of Americans lived in places where the presidential vote would be considered a landslide. Now, more than half of us live in these counties that are essentially predetermined, according to Bill Bishop’s fascinating book, The Big Sort.

If politics is especially important to your move, where should you live? We teamed up with Livability advisory board member Kevin Stolarick and tried to take a new approach to the question in this month’s Top 10 Best Places lists. We looked at the political landscape in a number of ways. Using data from GovTrack, we examined the political leanings of the area’s congressional representatives. We looked at the splits in the vote during the 2012 presidential election. We also looked at how residents self-identify on the political spectrum using data from Esri.

But knowing that a Best Place to Live is about more than just politics, we also worked with Experian Marketing Services to come up with a TV show, magazine, fast-food restaurant, retailer, and an auto maker that skew toward one political group or another.

For liberals, that meant Subarus, Qdoba, REI, Time and HBO’s The Newsroom. Conservatives prefer Buicks, Chick-fil-A, Sam’s Club, Good Housekeeping and The Bachelorette much more than liberals do. Centrists can be found driving Cadillacs, eating at Hardee’s, shopping at American Eagle Outfitters, and watching Two and a Half Men on CBS.

Then, we looked for areas that buy those products and watch those shows more than average.

What did we find?

See the Top 10 lists for the results and a more detailed methodology, and stay tuned to the Livability blog for some in-depth research on the ways liberals and conservatives live and move.

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