Suburbia Sours on Obama: A Case Study

The suburban psyche fascinates me. The infamous ariel photos of Levittown sure make these environments seem unoriginal and devoid of mystery. Though their habitat was rather drab in the 1950s (and in many communities is still rather disheartening today), the suburbanites themselves are a large, ideologically and economically diverse demographic. Rarely professing loyalty to one political party or viewpoint, they come off as ambiguous, swing voters. But make no mistake, their vote is crucial.

Because of their importance as deciding voters and because of the nearing midterms, this article about shifting loyalties in Denver’s suburbs caught my eye.

Framed as a case-study meant to reveal a larger trend, Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker spent time in the Reunion neighborhood of Commerce City talking to residents and serving as a sounding board for their concerns about the president they all voted for.

Swayed by a president who vowed to push the agenda of the middle class, suburbanites say they now feel “disenchanted”. Frustrated about the waterlogged economy, lack of Congressional compromise, and the devaluing of their homes and retirement savings, many are throwing up their hands in the form of flip-flopping their vote for the midterms. Demographer Robert Lang, who specializes in suburban trends, says that the prevailing attitude is the yearning for a government that is “light, effective, and tailored to their needs.”

Though the article emphasizes the uniqueness of this shift of loyalty, split-ballots among suburbanites are anything but new. Shifting loyalties based on practical rather than ideological views have been a growing trend for decades. The foundations of partisan voting are eroding, in light of this article at least. It may be time for both parties to step back and reconsider their party base and what core, “applicable to life” agendas they should be working together on. While the midterms are predicted to punish the Democrats for their increasing liberalism and their lack of cooperation with the GOP in Washington, the Republicans are also in a position from which they must re-invent themselves.

The GOP’s fracturing political base will be explored in my next post.

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