Politics

America’s 100 most liberal-friendly counties: numbers 100-81

Photo of Chris Palko
Chris Palko
Contributor

After counting down the list of the top 100 counties for a conservative to live in, it’s time to do the same for liberals.  If you still have your Obama bumper sticker on your Prius, here are the counties you should consider moving to.

The criteria for composing the list is as follows:

  • Percentage of the vote John Kerry and Barack Obama earned
  • Median household income, adjusted for cost of living
  • Percentage of adult population with bachelors degree or higher
  • Percentage of adult population in management/professional jobs
  • Unionization laws (whether right-to-work laws are present)
  • State concealed carry laws
  • State abortion laws, as measured by Americans United for Life
  • Status of same-sex partnerships (whether civil union, same-sex marriage, etc.)
  • Number of Whole Foods in the county
  • Strictness of bans on smoking

Note: counties are almost meaningless in New England. Their main responsibility is generally to administer prisons. Some New England states have outright abolished county governments.  Counties are used here to compare geographic areas similar to the rest of the country.

Here is a slideshow of 100-81.

100. Schenectady County, N.Y.
Largest city: Schenectady

Schenectady County is most famous for giving the world General Electric. However, in the last few decades, it has lost a third of its population. It still maintains a standard of living better than other Rust Belt cities. The county was Republican for a long time (the first of many on this list), but it has flipped into the Democratic column in the past decade like the most of Upstate New York.

99. Humboldt County, Calif.
Largest city: Eureka

Humboldt County is a sleepy county on the Northern California coast that weaves together many thrusts of contemporary liberalism. It contains Humboldt State University. The county is the site of Redwood National and State Parks, with the tallest, oldest trees in the world. To top it all off, Humboldt County is the center of the California marijuana industry, which was detailed in a 2008 New Yorker profile.

98. Bristol County, Mass.
Largest city: New Bedford

Barney Frank is one of America’s most famous liberals, and the majority of his district is in Bristol County. Although Frank seems to fit in with upper-class liberalism, his district is more blue-collar, containing gritty old cities such as New Bedford and Taunton. Outside of his district is Fall River, once the center of the American textile industry. Its standing is helped by Massachusetts’s liberal climate, however Obama ran three percentage points behind John Kerry’s 2004 performance.

97. Hampden County, Mass.
Largest city: Springfield

Springfield, Mass.’s greatest legacy is giving the world the game of basketball. Dr. James Naismith invented the game at a YMCA in town. Springfield is an old Yankee industrial town in a state of decline. Holyoke, also in the county is home to what is now the largest percentage of Puerto Ricans in any city outside of Puerto Rico. As with the above entry, the county is not very wealthy, but it is solidly Democratic.

96. Miami-Dade County, Fla.
Largest city: Miami

Miami has developed into one of America’s global cities — it is now the overseas capital of Latin America. Miami also has an established black community, and has long been a retirement haven for many Jews. Miami had a long-existing liberal intelligentsia, and the county is definitely Democratic-leaning. The Cuban presence keeps the county somewhat less Democratic than expected, and the state of Florida is not great for liberalism.

95. Strafford County, N.H.
Largest city: Rochester

Strafford County is on the northern Sea Coast of New Hampshire. This was precisely the sort of “flinty” Yankee county the Republican Party was built upon. Times have changed, and the area within the county has swung to Democrats. Durham is home to the University of New Hampshire. It has an above average rate of college graduates, but its living standards are not top flight.

94. Story County, Iowa
Largest city: Ames

On paper, Iowa should be a conservative bastion. It is a rural, farm state with a homogeneous population. But it has leaned liberal for the last decade. Story County is one of the more consistent Democratic counties because it’s the home of Iowa State University — about 47 percent of the adult population are college graduates, one of the best totals on the list.

93. Charles County, Md.
Largest community: Waldorf

The growth of the Washington metro area reached Charles County in southern Maryland this decade. The focus of the growth is Waldorf, a suburban community on the northern boundary of the county. The county has received some overflow from neighboring Prince George’s County. The continual migration from PG County has turned the county sharply Democratic, as Obama ran 12 points ahead of John Kerry.

92. Burlington County, N.J.
Largest community: Evesham Township

Southern New Jersey looks to Philadelphia as opposed to New York City. Burlington County is a core suburban Philadelphia county, which, like the Pennsylvania suburbs, have trended Democratic the last two decades. Considering it is on the opposite bank of the Delaware River from Philadelphia, it is relatively underdeveloped. It enjoys a solidly comfortable standard of living.

91. Alachua County, Fla.
Largest city: Gainesville

The University of Florida is the seventh-largest university campus in America, and it dominates Alachua County, located in the north-central part of the peninsula. While UF isn’t particularly known for collegiate progressivism, large campuses like this one have become a political force in and of themselves, giving Obama 60 percent of the vote. It is held down by Florida’s conservative state laws, being a right-to-work state, having few restrictions on guns, and forbidding gay marriage.

  • jbarb

    I’m happy to see my request was considered. I’m ***DYING*** to know the top ten! And I love how these liberal counties are actually places sane people would want to live, not somewhere in smelly Tennessee or Utah.

  • desmo1121

    Wait a year, they will all be Republican.

  • Setmetheball

    I believe the criteria of a good place for a Liberal is really a bit silly. Lets look at the list again and see my comments.

    The criteria for composing the list is as follows:

    Percentage of the vote John Kerry and Barack Obama earned – The best ranking
    Median household income, adjusted for cost of living – Does higher income mean more liberals or less liberals? What does this matter?
    Percentage of adult population with bachelors degree or higher? Again what does this matter?
    Percentage of adult population in management/professional jobs – Are Liberals more or less Management?
    Unionization laws (whether right-to-work laws are present) – Liberals like unions, I understand the Union Management has endorsed Democrat almost always, rank and file, I am not so sure.
    State concealed carry laws – Liberal hate concealed carry laws, I guess?
    State abortion laws, as measured by Americans United for Life – So what, Rowe v Wade is the law, State laws are mostly un-important.
    Status of same-sex partnerships (whether civil union, same-sex marriage, etc.) – Liberals seem to be wanting same-sex marriage, I get the point.
    Number of Whole Foods in the county – This is the one that made me post, what the heck does Whole Foods have to do with Liberal besides the one comment the CEO made about Healthcare a year ago. I believe that lots of conservatives with extra money to spend on Groceries shop organic, and not just with that one chain across the country. I know a conservative who drives her SUV across two counties to buy FIJI water at Fresh Foods when not at home trying to shoot any deer that try to eat the organic apples she grows (only in deer season of course).
    Strictness of bans on smoking – Is it the liberals or the conservatives that smoke more? I do not get it.

    I saw religious attendance in the conservative rankings – I guess that Conservatives are the only ones who go to church? Wrong.

    Better Criteria:
    % of government employees
    % of single versus married people, single ranks higher to be liberal
    Average Age, young are liberal, middle age are conservative, seniors are tweeners
    Race, the talking heads tell us all the time only whites are conservative.
    % of college students and faculty, college towns in Red States start this list

    Anyway this is a silly list and I can not wait to tell all my conservative friends where our county ranks on the liberal list.

    • oeno

      Not any more silly than the Forbes list or any other magazine that does this sort of thing.

      Criteria-wise they seem to be a step above some of the hilarious rankings one finds on “The Daily Beast” (again, a fledgling website in real terms).

  • matedeirdre

    Well a good amount of the hedgefunders in Fairfield County went under, so maybe after November’s election Fairfield will be off this list.

  • rainmaker1145

    Who cares?

  • loppyd

    As a lifelong resident of Essex County, MA I take issue with a few of the author’s characterizations. First, not all of Essex County is considered the North Shore. Second, Peabody is not on the coast. Third, Scott Brown won all but six towns in Essex Couny, losing traditionally uber liberal Newburyport by less than 100 votes. I would move Essex County out of the reliably Democratic column. Prediction. The results of the upcoming governor’s race here will be an almost mirror image of the Brown v. Coakley race. Same people with the same issues will be voting. Bye bye, Deval.