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

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.