The nation’s big blue cities are rapidly losing African-Americans—while Republican cities are gaining them. Washington Post breaks down the numbers:
Between 2000 and 2010, cities like Austin, Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco—places that vote majority Democrat, consider themselves socially and culturally progressive, and boast racial diversity—all lost unprecedented numbers of African Americans. San Francisco, for instance, saw a staggering 20.4 percent loss in its African American population between 2000 and 2010. Chicago and Washington D.C. also experienced double-digit losses.During that same decade, the only three major cities (populations over 500,000) that voted Republican in the 2012 presidential election— Phoenix, Fort Worth, and Oklahoma City—all saw significant increases in African American numbers; their African-American populations grew by 36.1 percent, 28 percent and 11.4 percent respectively.
The Washington Post story links this trend to role college graduates, more concerned with the culture wars than economic justice, have played in pushing poorer Americans out of their cities. Gentrification has raised the costs of living beyond what low-income residents can afford, and produced a political and economic environment more tailored to the needs of the prosperous than the impoverished. Meanwhile cheap housing and energy jobs are drawing more and more people to the Sunbelt, and cities like Houston.We are used to hearing about richer Americans or companies leaving blue cities because of onerous tax burdens—even though it never quite happens to the degree conservatives expect. But here is the opposite problem. This shift should signal to blue loyalists that lower-income Americans are voting—or, what’s worse, being forced to vote—against big blue with their feet.