30. Livingston County, Mich.
Largest municipality: Brighton Township
Livingston County is on the edge of the Detroit area, only the southeastern corner could be considered suburbs. This is precisely the sort of exurban county that the Bush campaign successfully targeted in 2004. Eighty-six percent are home owners, and nearly 65 percent are married families. It is one of the wealthiest counties in the Midwest and among the most Republican counties with a substantial population in Michigan.
29. Chesterfield County, Va.
Largest community: Midlothian
For those looking to locate the change of the Old South into the New, Chesterfield County is a textbook example. Chesterfield contains the southern suburbs of Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy. The area was tobacco country, giving name to the once prominent Chesterfield cigarettes. About 50 or 60 years ago, the rough-hewn nature of the county changed when Richmond, a city with much racial turmoil, began to move out to the suburbs. The county has moved in a white-collar direction, focused on the emerging edge city of Midlothian, a former mining community. Historically conservative, Chesterfield supported Bob McDonnell in last year’s governor’s race by a 2-to-1 margin.
28. Canadian County, Okla.
Largest city: Yukon
Oklahoma City is one of the most conservative major cities in the nation, and its suburbs are even more conservative. Canadian County to the west of Oklahoma City is more 75 percent Republican. Garth Brooks grew up in this county, in the now suburban city of Yukon. As reflected by Oklahoma’s two conservative senators, the state of Oklahoma is friendly to conservatives, as it is one of the most religious states and it is shedding its former populist economic heritage for free-market policies.
27. Waukesha County, Wis.
Largest city: Waukesha
Waukesha County checks all the boxes on this list. The county government is unanimously Republican, its two congressmen are James Sensenbrenner and Paul Ryan, both strong conservatives. It is 2-to-1 Republican at the presidential level, which makes it one of the most conservative northern suburban counties. It should be a top 10 county. Why is it 27th? Wisconsin has some of the nation’s most punitive gun laws, not allowing private citizens to carry concealed arms. Wisconsin also has relatively high state income taxes, with few deductions.
26. Boone County, Ind.
Largest municipality: Center Township
Yet another of the metro Indianapolis “doughnut counties,” Boone County is experiencing a population boom, particularly on its southeastern portion that directly adjoins Marion County (which is mostly the City of Indianapolis). That portion is the suburb of Zionsville, which was named by BusinessWeek as America’s best affordable suburb. They have recently merged with two surrounding townships and it promises to be one of the most important suburbs in the future.
25. Hendricks County, Ind.
Largest municipality: Washington Township
To the south of Boone County is Hendricks County. Its suburbs lie in the shadow of Indianapolis’s airport, and its nearby suburbs have prospered. The shiny new Metropolis mall has been built in nearby Plainfield. Indiana is the most conservative state in the Great Lakes region and this is reflected in Hendricks County, which gave Bush 73 percent of the vote six years ago.
24. Rockwall County, Texas
Largest city: Rockwall
Rockwall is the smallest county in the largest state in the lower 48. Northeast of Dallas, it has about doubled its population in the past 10 years. It is separated from Dallas County by Lake Ray Hubbard, and on its shore is Rockwall, county seat and one of the richest cities in Texas of its size. It has the third-highest percentage of married family households on this list.
23. Davis County, Utah
Largest city: Layton
Davis County is the northern suburban area of Salt Lake City. The settlement here is based on a small valley strip that lays between the lake and the Wasatch Mountains to the east. Interstate 15 is the crucial artery here, particularly for those in the south of the county who commute to Salt Lake City. The major employer is Hill Air Force Base, in the northern part of the county. The combination of the military and its large Mormon population is closely tied to its political coloring.
22. Boone County, Ky.
Largest city: Florence
Boone County lies at the intersection of the Cincinnati and Southern conservative traditions. Cincinnati’s main airport is located over the Ohio River in an unincorporated area in the northeastern corner of the county. It is the second-richest county in Kentucky and has a more Northern outlook than the rest of the state. Its cultural conservatism is on display in the western portion of the county, where the Creation Museum is located.
21. Nassau County, Fla
Largest city: Fernandina Beach
The Jacksonville area is well represented on this list, and the second-highest ranking of the counties is Nassau County, located between Jacksonville and Georgia. The focus of the county is Amelia Island, a resort area with the most dense settlement. The island ranges from an upscale area with a Ritz-Carlton, to the town of Fernandina Beach, to American Beach, a traditionally African-American beach. There is a strong military and senior citizen presence here. Even McCain got 71 percent here.
Look tomorrow for part five, numbers 20-1.