Over the weekend, the New York Times had a long feature piece in its magazine about Barack Obama‘s efforts to woo working class white voters. Particularly men. You know, the racist ones. The story is a meandering journey through the conscious and subconscious thoughts of these voters and Obama’s never-ending attempts to prove he’s simply a decent, trustworthy human being, who, maaaaybe they should consider for president. A lot of attention has been paid to this particular voting block. A few weeks ago, I didn’t know about the Bradley Effect. (Or, the Reverse Bradley Effect.) Now, I do—-I hear about it at least once a day. But, for all this attention, it seems the real shift in voting has been relatively under-reported: change in the exurbs, a land where housing boomed and busted with the most intensity.
Republicans have long dominated in the fast-growing exurbs, which President Bush won by an even larger margin in 2004 than in 2000. But Democrats made inroads in these areas in the 2006 congressional elections, part of a broader trend that has seen the party gain among college-educated suburban professionals. And this year, many exurbs that grew rapidly in the past decade are being hit particularly hard by the economic downturn.
Okay, and here is why this story is relevant to this blog.
Across the country, the housing collapse has been most acute on the suburban fringe. In Prince William, sales are picking up again, but at severely reduced prices — the median price for detached single-family houses plunged 41 percent in the past year, from $405,000 in September 2007 to $239,900 last month. There were 844 foreclosures last month, up from 256 a year before and 40 in September 2006. Exacerbating the real estate collapse was the spike in gasoline prices, which hit hardest in exurbs where 30-mile commutes are the norm.