The Economist recently published a ranking of America’s most conservative and liberal cities.
The results aren't surprising — San Francisco tops out as the country's most liberal and Mesa, Arizona ranks as the most conservative.
What is is remarkable, however, is how many young people live in conservative strongholds.
The graph provides its own context. Consider, of the 67 cities listed, only 11 rate as conservative. And of those cities, only one (Jacksonville) is among the 20 most populous in the country.
Still, it bears noting that in San Francisco, 13.4 percent of the population is made up of people under 18 years old, according to data from the 2010 Census. However, in Mesa, the number jumps to 26.3 percent, according to 2010 Census data.
In Washington, D.C., the second most liberal city in the U.S., people younger than 18 account for 17.2 percent of the population, according to Census data from 2013. But in Oklahoma City, the second most conservative city in America, the same age group accounts for 25.4 percent of the population, the Census reported in 2010.
While, anecdotally, younger Americans are often perceived as more liberal than older generations, political trends are markedly shifting across the country — as these population numbers might suggest. Simply growing up in conservative cities does not suggest that these legions of young people will register Republican when they turn 18. A more important indicator than where they grew up could be when they grew up.
For instance, in July, The New York Times' The Upshot noted that today's teenagers, unlike their immediate elders, are on course to grow up conservative, and the explanation had more to do with their perspective of growing up in the age of Obama.
From The Upshot:
In the simplest terms, the Democrats control the White House (and, for now, the Senate) at a time when the country is struggling. Economic growth has been disappointing for almost 15 years now. Most Americans think this country is on the wrong track. Our foreign policy often seems messy and complex, at best.
To Americans in their 20s and early 30s — the so-called millennials — many of these problems have their roots in George W. Bush’s presidency. But consider people who were born in 1998, the youngest eligible voters in the next presidential election. They are too young to remember much about the Bush years or the excitement surrounding the first Obama presidential campaign. They instead are coming of age with a Democratic president who often seems unable to fix the world's problems.
And Harvard University's Institute of Politics recently found that younger millennials are trending less democratic.