The Obama Metro Effect
One of the most striking developments over the last two elections is growing Democratic strength in the suburbs and exurbs. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who oversaw the Democrats’ 2006 takeover of the House, said at the time that the Democrats’ suburban wins were key to their majority. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who is one of his party’s shrewdest vote counters, believes a comeback for Republicans begins in the suburbs.
Barack Obama picked up where the 2006 Democrats left off. It was not until the D.C. suburban vote rolled in that his Virginia victory was sealed. His strength in North Carolina was concentrated in academic towns and suburban areas. In both states, suburban whites added their votes to those of African-Americans.
Suburban strength was key to Obama’s victories elsewhere, notably in Pennsylvania and Colorado. According to the network exit poll, Obama won voters in cities with populations of over 50,000 by nearly 2-to-1 and then edged out McCain in the suburbs. If Republicans can’t run up margins in suburban and exurban areas, as they once did, they will not return to majority status any time soon. Obama is many things: the first African-American President, the first President from the North since John F. Kennedy and the first President with a strong relationship to an urban political machine since Harry Truman He is also the first Metro President, or at least the first Metro Democrat to occupy the White House.
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