The Daily Caller is counting down the 100 most liberal-friendly counties, after having done the same for conservatives. If you still have an Obama bumper sticker on your Prius, this is where you’ll feel most at home. On Monday, we listed numbers 100-81, on Tuesday we counted down 80-61 and below you’ll find numbers 60-41.
A reminder of our criteria:
- 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 60-41.
60. Union County, N.J.
Largest city: Elizabeth
Elizabeth is one of several northern New Jersey cities that rose to prominence during the Industrial Revolution. It long has been home to shipbuilding and refinery businesses, and some heavy industry remains. Now, Elizabeth is more than half Hispanic, home to a kaleidoscope of Latin American nationalities. The suburban areas of the county are politically split, but the urban portions closest to New York make this a clear blue county. Obama got nearly 64 percent of the vote here.
59. Fairfax County, Va.
Largest community: Burke
Suburban Fairfax County in northern Virginia was for a long time generally Republican. That’s changed in the last decade. The county is now about 40 percent non-white and many liberals who had previously stuck to Washington or Maryland have moved here as well. This is the second-richest county in America (not adjusted for cost of living), speaking to the wealth that government employment can bestow. Obama won 60 percent of the vote here, but a year later Bob McDonnell narrowly won the gubernatorial election with 51 percent.
58. Santa Barbara County, Calif.
Largest city: Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara County is present-day California in miniature. The county is divided between a liberal coastal area anchored by Santa Barbara and a conservative inland surrounding the city of Santa Maria. Like the rest of the state, the coastal area has more people, and therefore dominates the direction of the county. The Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969 was one of the impetuses for the environmental movement, which dominates the coastal area’s anti-development consciousness. The county last voted for a Republican presidential candidate — George Bush Sr. — in 1988.
57. Travis County, Texas
Largest city: Austin
Austin has long been a liberal island in the red sea of Texas, housing a liberal intelligentsia based around the University of Texas and the state capitol. It was influential far beyond its numbers, giving the conservative state such liberal luminaries as LBJ, Lloyd Bentsen and Ann Richards. Another Austin resident, Karl Rove, ended their hold on state government. Austin is is where Whole Foods first opened 30 years ago, and where the public television series “Austin City Limits” came to be a national institution.
56. Douglas County, Kan.
Largest city: Lawrence
Lawrence is another liberal outpost in an otherwise conservative state. The home of the University of Kansas, Douglas County is typical college terrain with coffeehouses, radical politics and a large number of college graduates (47 percent of the population). Some conservative tradition persists: There are right-to-work laws, guns are easy to obtain and same-sex marriage is constitutionally banned (Douglas County was the only county in the state to vote against the ban).
55. Palm Beach County, Fla.
Largest city: West Palm Beach
When the 2000 presidential election recount took place, Al Gore felt confident that a recount of rejected votes in Palm Beach County would put him over the top. That confidence was well placed; Palm Beach County has given Democratic candidates between 60 and 62 percent in the last three presidential elections. Palm Beach County is a melting pot, with large Cuban, Haitian, Jewish and black populations, augmented by the presence of French and British expats making vacation homes here.
54. Windsor County, Vt.
Largest town: Hartford
Vermont was once America’s most conservative state. It was settled by descendents of Puritans who went to the Massachusetts Bay colony a century earlier. It is notable that what was FDR’s worst state was Obama’s best, outside of his native Hawaii. The Windsor County area has no town larger than 10,000 residents. Despite being nearly all-white and heavily rural, the county gave Obama 68 percent of the vote.
53. Washington County, Vt.
Largest city: Barre
The smallest state capital in America is Montpelier, with just 8,000 residents. The mines of nearby Barre yield granite that could very well be somewhere in your house. Vermont is perhaps the most socially liberal state in the U.S., as it was the first state to allow civil unions and was the first state to democratically approve same-sex marriage.
52. Hennepin County, Minn.
Largest city: Minneapolis
Minneapolis is a tranquil, pleasant city, and one of the major fonts of American liberalism. No doubt the city’s Scandinavian heritage accounts for this: Norwegians and Swedes brought the social democratic politics of their native countries to the land of 10,000 lakes. There’s a reason one of the jokes about Walter Mondale was that he had “Norwegian charisma” (which is to say, none). A group of researchers deemed Minneapolis to be America’s most literate city, based on such factors as number of bookstores, newspaper circulation and library resources.
51. Philadelphia County, Pa.
Co-terminus with the City of Philadelphia
There are many Philadelphias. There are the cramped narrow streets of South Philadelphia, the densely populated Center City, rich Chestnut Hill and blue-collar northeast Philly, to name a few. Few remember that a Republican machine controlled the city government until 1951. Now, the machine is Democratic, and Philadelphia gave Obama 83 percent of the vote. Pennsylvania’s state laws are not a progressive’s idea of the good society, though — the state has the most stringent abortion laws in America and relatively free gun laws.