October 31, 2010

JOEL KOTKIN ON OBAMA’S MISTAKE: Suburban Nation, but Urban Political Strategy.

The connection between suburbs and political victory should have been clear by now. Middle- and working-class suburbanites keyed the surprising election win of Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts in January. Suburban voters were also crucial to the 2009 Republican gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey, two key swing states.

Nationally, suburban approval for the Democrats has dropped to 39 percent this year, from 48 percent two years ago. Disapproval for President Barack Obama is also high — nearly 48 percent of suburbanites disapprove, compared to only 35 percent of urbanites. Even Obama’s strong support among minority suburbanites, a fast-growing group, has declined substantially.

Many suburban voters, notes Lawrence Levy, executive director of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, appear to be undergoing “buyer’s remorse” for backing Obama and the Democrats last time around .

As they should:

Many of the administration’s most high-profile initiatives have tended to reflect the views of urban interests – roughly 20 percent of the population – rather than suburban ones.

When the president visits suburban backyards, it sometimes seems like a visit from a “president from another planet.” After all, as a young man, Obama told The Associated Press: “I’m not interested in the suburbs. The suburbs bore me.”

Read the whole thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Scott Littler writes:

“Bomb the Suburbs” was popular in democratic socialist circles in the early ’90′s. A fellow El Salvador “solidarity” activist gave me a copy back in that ’93-’95 era. It’s probably still in my basement collection of America-hating books: “Fidel & Religion”, “A People’s History…”, etc.

That America elected a grown man with the politics that I had as a 18-25-year old stoner, America-hating, Fidel-admiring, “democratic” socialist was more than a little surprising to me. Positively freaky-deaky.

I see now on Wikipedia that it was Chicago-oriented: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bomb_the_Suburbs. Imagine that. The author seems to have an Ayer-esque-lite biography – son of privilege, hater of the normal:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Upski_Wimsatt

Yeah, imagine. But Bomb The Suburbs was really a rap/hip-hop book (though anti-suburban), and it should be noted that the author has since written Please Don’t Bomb The Suburbs.