Latest blog articles
Blue surge in Georgia: What election shows about shifts in suburban values
Her peach-emblazoned “I voted!” sticker peeling from her shirt, Jessie Bragg anxiously awaited the result of the Georgia Sixth District congressional election, glancing at a map on her phone showing the depth of support for Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, in one of the country’s traditionally conservative districts.
“Georgia has never been so blue!” the millennial barkeep exclaimed, holding her phone up.
Mr. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and documentary filmmaker, won 48.1 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s special election. While he did not breach the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff in June, he did surge to an easy plurality over 17 other candidates in the district – the place where Newt Gingrich catapulted into national politics with a 1979 win.
Do you really know your Atlanta Braves baseball history? [/url]" data-reactid="14">Recommended: Do you really know your Atlanta Braves baseball history?
The Sixth has been no-man’s land for Democrats ever since. A decade ago, Tom Price, whose exit to become Health and Human Services secretary left a vacant seat sought by 18 candidates Tuesday night, won 91 percent of the vote. In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney won by 22 percentage points over President Barack Obama.
Yet given Tuesday’s election result, a shift has clearly happened. Last November, President Trump won there by less than 2 percentage points. And last year, a mystery Democrat named Rodney Stooksbury managed to get almost 40 percent of the vote without spending a dollar – or releasing a campaign photo. And while Ossoff failed to garner the 50 percent necessary to win outright, he moves into the June run-off in the strongest position a Democrat has seen in the Sixth since Jimmy Carter was president.
In part seen as a referendum on President Trump, Ossoff’s out-of-the-blue campaign also offers a mirror on how changing suburban values are coming to a head in unexpected ways.
In the past decade especially, Atlanta suburbs like Cobb, Dekalb, and Fulton, parts of which make up the Sixth, have become younger, more diverse, more place-focused, and more urbane than their dad’s suburbs. A values shift toward walkability and sustainability is creating opportunities for moderates like Ossoff who respect suburban traditions while also seeking not to exclude people by race or wealth.
“The suburbs are transforming because they’re conforming to what people want, and what people really want is an interesting place to live,” says Lynn Richards, president of the Congress for the New Urbanism, in Washington. “The suburbs are a location, like the mountains, which makes it hard to define the wide diversity of communities outside cities as a monoculture. But today, many are delving into urban villages and nodes, experimenting with a broader range of transportation, and demanding sustainability. And if that’s where people are moving, then, yes, political thought will also change.”
Make no mistake: The Georgia Sixth is still firmly conservative, and Ossoff now faces an uphill climb against former secretary of state Karen Handel, an establishment Republican whose more traditional suburban values – including her conservative stances on social issues – stand in sharp contrast to Ossoff.
As early as 2008, the Brookings Institution identified suburbs like Atlanta’s northern tier as fertile ground for finding new voters. And that transformation is now beginning to play out, experts say, fueled by a surge of activism both on the left and right.
Part of the equation is Millennials, who bought 32 percent of homes in 2014, up four percent over 2012. The listing firm Trulia, using US Census data, found that those Millennials were more likely to buy in close suburbs like Chamblee, Brookhaven, and Roswell, close to shopping, good schools and nature, than in Atlanta.
And the Sixth District, like many suburban areas, has become increasingly diverse, largely without ensuing white flight. The Atlanta suburbs have been gaining immigrants and African-Americans at some of the greatest rates in the country, according to Brookings. Nationwide, 72 percent of black and foreign-born residents now live in suburbs.
“How we shape our spaces really does matter,” says Ellen Dunham-Jones, a professor of urban design at Georgia Tech University. “If you build a suburb where public spaces are compelling, streets are vibrant, and there are places to go and hang out, you feel better about your neighbors.”
Brookhaven, which retains the ethos of an “old money” Atlanta getaway, now encompasses part of Buford Highway, where beef cheek tacos await. These days, forget the wood-paneled pizza shop. The Chamblee, Ga., suburbs now are about bulgogi to go.
The new suburban appeal resonates not just for younger Americans in search of authentic experiences, but older ones as well, ranging from empty nesters who want a more urban lifestyle without having to move to the city to Gen X divorcees who are trying to juggle jobs, social lives, and two households without being stuck in Atlanta traffic all day.
“The suburbs are not just composed of wealthy conservatives, even though such communities do exist,” says Brian Miller, a Wheaton College, Ill., sociologist who studies the suburbs. The difference is that “there are now a variety of populations with a variety of concerns.” That means “local and national elections may [now] depend on reaching voters in middle suburbs who might go either way depending on the candidates, economic conditions [and] quality of life concerns.”
Ossoff’s appeal, it seems, came largely from an “I’ll work with anyone to solve problems” plea that, as one ice-cream loving analyst pointed out, came off as more French vanilla than wild cherry.
He vowed to hold “Trump accountable” – but mostly about rooting out government waste – and ignored gun issues. Whether his message about putting shared values over political differences will resonate in the runoff is an open question. But Ossoff called his big night “a story about this community at this moment in history."
Indeed, “making a place more urban is not about making it turn more Democrat,” says Professor Dunham-Jones, author of “Retrofitting Suburbia.” “There are a lot of Republican new urbanists who feel very strongly about urbanism and totally defend it on conservative grounds.”
But such suburban shifts, it turns out, may have a moderating effect. After all, Republicans in the Sixth District voted for Sen. Marco Rubio in the presidential race, over Mr. Trump. And on Tuesday, far more Republicans voted for Ms. Handel, who ran a low-key campaign and distanced herself from Trump, rather than three runners-up, all Republican men, including state Sen. Judson Hill.
In that way, for a night at least, the Atlanta suburbs were a lesson in moderation in a politically fraught nation.
For her part, Ms. Bragg felt pretty good about Ossoff, who struck her as “a regular person, like me.”
She had no plans to vote originally, but a piece of campaign mail from Ossoff caught her attention just as she was about to throw it away. After reading about his plan to cut through partisanship to focus on infrastructure and trade problems, “I actually got excited to vote for him. And that’s coming from somebody who has lived in the ’burbs all her life.”
- Do you really know your Atlanta Braves baseball history?
- In Atlanta's suburbs, is a political revolution brewing?
- Trump voters discontented? So far that's not what polls say.
- Church revival? More liberals are filling Protestant pews.
Read this story at csmonitor.com
Become a part of the Monitor community
- Become a Facebook fan!
- Follow us on Twitter!
- Follow us on Google+
- Link up with us!
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds!
PM vows to introduce clean farm produce to the world
As one of the 14 VinEco farms invested in by VinGroup, the project sprawls over 180ha at a cost of nearly 300 billion VND (13 million USD), including a large-scale model field of about 130ha and a 5ha greenhouse area using Israeli technology and manufacturing facilities. Greenhouse No. 1, using Israeli dripping technology, covers an area of 8,300 m2 and is capable of providing around 150 tonnes of leafy vegetables per year. On the 130ha model field, VinEco Ha Nam will develop nearly fifteen… chat_bubble_outline Read More...
The Latest: Clinton says she'll call Trump if she wins
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the U.S. presidential campaign (all times EDT):___6:37 p.m.Hillary Clinton says she intends to call rival Donald Trump if she wins the presidency in Tuesday's election.The Democratic presidential nominee says in a radio interview with Ryan Seacrest that she hopes Trump will "play a constructive role" in helping bring the country together.Clinton says in an interview on the final day of campaigning that if she wins, she wants to bring together people who supported… chat_bubble_outline Read More...
Financial investment: foreign funds ready for disbursement
Fund management companies that have been in Vietnam a long time are moving ahead with plans to raise new funds in anticipation of great opportunities to come from equitized state-owned enterprises, profitable listed companies and private businesses with potential. A representative of VinaCapital, which now manages three funds listed on the London stock market with total asset value of $1.5 billion, said VinaCapital would put the second domestic fund into operation in the Vietnamese market in… chat_bubble_outline Read More...
Agro-forestry and fisheries exports hit US$4.3 billion in two months
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the export value of major farming items hit roughly US$2.4 billion, up 8.8% year on year, while the respective values for the fisheries and forestry sectors were US$844 million, down 3.1%, and US$993 million, up 0.3%. Rubber items registered the largest growth, up 25.4% in volume and 2.4 times in export value. Vietnam exported 193,000 tonnes of rubber in the January-February period, raking in a revenue of US$392 million. Wood items… chat_bubble_outline Read More...
Watch: Watch Guus Hiddink get battered to the ground during post-match brawl
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink was knocked to the ground in a post-match brawl after Chelsea drew 2-2 with Spurs. Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday night handed the title to Leicester City.The visiting Spurs took a 2-0 lead through goals from Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, but second-half strikes from Gary Cahill and Eden Hazard stole a point for the Blues, who didn't need it themselves, but were desperate to keep the title out of Spurs' reach.Spurs, having made several rash challenges during… chat_bubble_outline Read More...