Dems Like Cities Better than Republicans; Everybody Loves Seattle

New polling suggests a distinct partisan divide when it comes to Americans’ opinions about cities.

Image
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There’s evidence of a distinct partisan divide when it comes to Americans’ opinions about cities.

According to the results of a "cities favorability" poll released last week by Public Policy Polling (PPP), Republicans were significantly less positive than Democrats when asked if they had favorable or unfavorable opinions of 21 prominent urban areas in the United States. The automated survey questioned 900 Americans.

A majority of Democrats gave an unfavorable rating to only two of the places on the list: Detroit and Oakland. Republicans, in contrast, were sour on eight of the metros: Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Detroit.

Everybody seems able to agree on the Pacific Northwest: Overall, the most popular cities in the poll were Seattle (57 percent positive, 14 percent negative, with the rest "not sure") and Portland, Oregon (52 percent positive, 12 percent negative).

At the bottom of the pile were Detroit (22-49), Oakland (21-39), and L.A. (33-40).

In the case of Washington, D.C., the partisan gap was greatest: 64 percent of Democrats said they liked the city, while only 24 percent of Republicans could muster affection for it.

Four cities did receive better ratings from GOP members than Dems: Dallas, Houston, Salt Lake, and Phoenix.

The survey also revealed that women had a more favorable view of the 21 cities than men, rating only Oakland and Detroit negatively, while men gave a thumbs-down to D.C., Oakland, L.A., and Detroit. And of the 21 cities, a greater percentage of women had favorable opinions than men in all but two cases: Phoenix and Cleveland (the genders were tied on New Orleans, with each expressing 47 percent favorable opinion).

There was also a race gap. From PPP’s press release:

The largest gap between black and white voters is on L.A., which black voters like by 35 points and white voters dislike by 16, for 51 points.  That is followed distantly by D.C. (blacks by 34), Vegas and Chicago (30), Salt Lake (whites by 28), Atlanta and Detroit (blacks by 23), Miami (19), NOLA and N.Y. (18), and Portland (whites by 17).

PPP has been described as a "Democratic-leaning" survey firm that gained attention in the last election cycle for the accuracy of its predictions.

Below, the full list of favorability responses for the 21 cities PPP asked its respondents about:

Seattle
Favorable ........................................................ 57%
Unfavorable .................................................... 14%
Not sure .......................................................... 29%

Portland, Oregon
Favorable ........................................................ 52%
Unfavorable .................................................... 12%
Not sure .......................................................... 37%

Boston
Favorable ........................................................ 52%
Unfavorable .................................................... 17%
Not sure .......................................................... 32%

Atlanta
Favorable ........................................................ 51%
Unfavorable .................................................... 19%
Not sure .......................................................... 31%

Phoenix
Favorable ........................................................ 49%
Unfavorable .................................................... 18%
Not sure .......................................................... 33%

New York City
Favorable ........................................................ 49%
Unfavorable .................................................... 23%
Not sure .......................................................... 28%

Dallas
Favorable ........................................................ 48%
Unfavorable .................................................... 21%
Not sure .......................................................... 31%

San Francisco
Favorable ........................................................ 48%
Unfavorable .................................................... 29%
Not sure .......................................................... 23%

New Orleans
Favorable ........................................................ 47%
Unfavorable .................................................... 24%
Not sure .......................................................... 29%

Houston
Favorable ........................................................ 45%
Unfavorable .................................................... 22%
Not sure .......................................................... 34%

Washington, D.C.
Favorable ........................................................ 44%
Unfavorable .................................................... 39%
Not sure .......................................................... 17%

Salt Lake City
Favorable ........................................................ 43%
Unfavorable .................................................... 20%
Not sure .......................................................... 38%

Las Vegas
Favorable ........................................................ 43%
Unfavorable .................................................... 33%
Not sure .......................................................... 25%

Philadelphia
Favorable ........................................................ 42%
Unfavorable .................................................... 22%
Not sure .......................................................... 36%

Chicago
Favorable ........................................................ 42%
Unfavorable .................................................... 33%
Not sure .......................................................... 25%

Baltimore
Favorable ........................................................ 37%
Unfavorable .................................................... 24%
Not sure .......................................................... 39%

Miami
Favorable ........................................................ 36%
Unfavorable .................................................... 33%
Not sure .......................................................... 31%

Los Angeles
Favorable ........................................................ 33%
Unfavorable .................................................... 40%
Not sure .......................................................... 27%

Cleveland
Favorable ........................................................ 32%
Unfavorable .................................................... 25%
Not sure .......................................................... 42%

Detroit
Favorable ........................................................ 22%
Unfavorable .................................................... 49%
Not sure .......................................................... 29%

Oakland
Favorable ........................................................ 21%
Unfavorable .................................................... 39%
Not sure .......................................................... 40%

 

Top image: Seattle's Pike Place Market (Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz / Shutterstock.com)

About the Author

  • Sarah Goodyear has written about cities for a variety of publications, including Grist and Streetsblog. She lives in Brooklyn.