The Washington Post

Mesa, Ariz., is to conservatism what San Francisco is to liberalism


Romney supporters at a rally at the Mesa Amphitheater in 2012. (via Gage Skidmore)

Mesa, Ariz., is the most conservative big city in the country, according to a study of representation in municipal government that included the 51 U.S. cities with at least a quarter of a million residents.

The study explores the policy preferences of citizens and compares them to city’s policies to determine whether there was a relationship. The most liberal cities spend more than twice as much per capita, have higher taxes per capita, and have less regressive tax systems than the most conservative cities, the study found. It was conducted by Chris Tausanovitch of UCLA and Christopher Warshaw of MIT and will be published in the American Political Science Review.

Mesa, for example, taxes $390 per capita and spends $1,418 per capita, compared with the most liberal city, San Francisco, which taxes $2,996 per capita and spends $6,031 per capita, Tausanovitch told The Post.

Municipal governments have long been thought to be less responsive to their citizens’ political views than national or state governments, but the study found this wasn’t the case. Even cities with governments designed to be less partisan, with institutions like nonpartisan elections  and professional managers instead of elected mayors,  are in line with residents’ political beliefs.

Unsurprisingly, America’s big cities tend to be liberal. The baseline in the graphic below represents the average citizen, estimated from a sample, and only 11 of the 51 cities fall right of that line. The bar for each city represents uncertainty.

Behind Mesa, the most conservative cities are Oklahoma City, Virginia Beach, Colorado Springs  and Jacksonville, Fla. San Francisco is the most liberal, followed by Washington, D.C., Seattle, Oakland and Boston.

Hunter Schwarz covers the intersection of politics and pop culture for the Washington Post

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Quoted
We'll have half a million voters in South Carolina. I can shake a lot of hands, but I can't shake that many.
Sen. Marco Rubio, speaking to a group of reporters about his strategy to regain support after a poor performance in the last debate
Fact Checker
Sanders’s claim that Clinton objected to meeting with ‘our enemies’
Sanders said that Clinton was critical of Obama in 2008 for suggesting meeting with Iran. In fact, Clinton and Obama differed over whether to set preconditions, not about meeting with enemies. Once in office, Obama followed the course suggested by Clinton, abandoning an earlier position as unrealistic.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read

politics

govbeat

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.