While looking at a city on the surface, it can be difficult to see what lies underneath. It is easy to see what the buildings look like or what attractions the city holds, but it is much more difficult to see what people’s hearts and minds hold. With politics becoming a bigger issue in our society, people want to know if a city is liberal or conservative, including Alexandria, Virginia.
Alexandria, Virginia is an extremely liberal city. It is made up of 70%-80% Democrats and voted for the Democratic candidate in the last 5 presidential elections. The city has passed laws limiting the powers of police, where you can carry guns, and keeping access to abortion clinics open.
With a pattern of voting for Democrats and a population that aligns with popular liberal beliefs, Alexandria, Virginia can only be considered a liberal city. Here is some more information about the city and how the residents have voted in the past.
Population’s Voting History
One of the first ways that you can determine the politics of a city is to look at the population. While this might seem like a bit of a no-brainer, you have to realize how important the population of a city is. If you do not understand who is living in the city, you won’t be able to find out what they think and feel about important issues.
The first thing to look at is who the population of the city is. Using data from Best Places, we can start to figure out what the population of Alexandria looks like. 71% of the citizens of Alexandria are white, with 15% being African American, and 14% are part of another racial group. Initially, these numbers seemed to be a little odd to me.
In data from the Pew Research Center, they found that majority of white Americans support the Republican party rather than the Democratic party. However, if we look at the population a bit closer we can see why that might not necessarily be the case.
Besides race, one of the quickest ways to determine which political party a person is likely to support is to by looking at their education level. In the same study by Pew, they found that people with college degrees are more likely to vote for Democrats. They also found that those with advanced degrees were even more likely to support the Democratic Party, with 57% of voters holding an advanced degree identifying as a Democrat and only 35% identifying as a Republican.
About 78% of residents in Alexandria, Virginia have a four-year college degree, with 18% of those citizens having an advanced degree. This is almost double the rate of the state of Virginia as a whole and higher than the other parts of the metro around Alexandria. This helps to explain why the area is so liberal. While it is a very white area, it is also a very highly educated area.
These aren’t just statements based on looking at this data either. The city of Alexandria has also voted in several elections over the last 20 years, and their votes also reveal how they feel politically. In the last five presidential elections dating back to 2000, the city of Alexandria has consistently voted for the Democratic candidate. Another thing to note is that in each election, there was more than a 10% margin of victory between the Democratic and Republican candidates.
This is different from the state of Virginia as a whole. In the last 5 presidential elections, the state of Virginia has voted for the Republican candidate for president 2 times and the Democratic candidate 3 times. Also, it was only in the election, where the state voted for the Democratic Candidate, that the margin of victory in the state was over 10%. Alexandria consistently votes for liberal politicians, even when the rest of Virginia doesn’t vote that way.
Now that we see what type of politicians the residents in Alexandria, Virginia are voting for, we can begin to look at the type of policies and actions the city is taking. Different policies will have support from either conservative or liberal voters, and this support generally doesn’t come from both groups at once.
One of these policies is the idea that the United States needs to reform its policing system. This is a policy that has become more popular in recent years, especially among liberal voters. The idea behind these ideas is that police have gotten too comfortable in the way that they handle issues and haven’t adjusted to our modern world.
Those who want to reform the police hope to move the system to one that is less punitive, more transparent, and less resource intensive. Some among liberal groups have even proposed to abolish the police entirely and create an entirely new system.
But what does Alexandria feel about this issue? If we look at some of the things that they have done in recent years, we can see where they stand on the idea of police reform. In 2020, Alexandria residents voted to create an independent review board made up of citizens from the city. The goal of this board is to provide an independent group to look over the police’s shoulder and make sure that the policing system was serving its intended purpose.
The board can receive complaints from people living in Alexandria about their experiences while interacting with the police. They can also review all police investigations, conduct their own investigations into the city’s police department, and recommend procedural and systematic changes to how the police department operates. It also creates a full-time position for a Police Auditor to head this review board.
The mayor of Alexandria described the board as, “This review board will work to provide enhanced citizen oversight and policy input to address racial and social equity in community policing as part of our commitment to ensuring the protection of all Alexandrians,” after voting to create the board in 2021.
When putting this citizen review board in place, there were some concerns about it. Some argued that police have the training necessary to perform their duties and that adding a group of everyday people without that training to the mix would only muddy the waters on the work the police do. Other people worried that by giving police investigations to the board, people’s personal information may be leaked or stolen. In the end, the city decided that this board was the best way to proceed with police reform.
Another issue that is popular among liberal groups is the idea that the US needs to put more controls and limits on the firearms that people can own and use. The United States is one of the only countries in the world that has such open access to guns and other firearms, as many other countries have banned them completely or severely limited those who can own one. We also tend to have a higher amount of crimes involving these weapons, including shootings that injure or kill many people at once.
The idea behind gun reform is that we can restrict our laws so that it is more difficult to get guns, and therefore lower the number the crimes that they are involved in. Liberals will argue that by the US having such open access to these weapons we are enabling these criminals and mentally unstable individuals to obtain exactly what they need to accomplish. They argue that we should conduct regular testing, restrict the types of guns that are available to buy, and screen people for mental instability before allowing them to buy guns.
What has Alexandria done in regard to these ideas? In 2020, Alexandria made it illegal to carry firearms of any kind in certain areas of the city. The law bans firearms from city property like parks and city offices. You also can’t carry firearms in public recreation areas and on public streets during city events. These laws apply to even those who have a license to conceal and carry a weapon with a Virginia license.
Another issue that is popular among liberal groups is ensuring access to abortion for women who want to have the procedure done. This is a hot-button issue between liberal and conservative groups and one that has only become more heated over the years. When the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to create their own laws regarding abortions, many liberals have taken to the streets to protest.
The city council of Alexandria voted for a resolution in support of abortion access. As part of the resolution, they promised that they would ensure access to an abortion to those that wanted it, as well as set part of the city’s budget aside to help those who don’t have the money to afford an abortion. They also promised to oppose any laws that may prevent the residents of Alexandria from having full access to reproductive health care.
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