Most large cities are liberal, so any outliers to this trend are interesting, to say the least. How does Murfreesboro compare to other cities, as well as its own home state? And what makes it an outlier in the first place?
Murfreesboro is not a liberal city. It has a Republican mayor and voted Republican in recent elections. Murfreesboro is in Tennessee, a state known for consistently voting Republican. While it is uncommon for populous cities to vote conservative, Murfreesboro is quite traditional.
Murfreesboro stands out from other major cities in several ways, but one of its biggest idiosyncrasies is its voting habits. Murfreesboro isn’t run like other big cities, and it shows. It has conservative values that can be seen in day-to-day life as well as in the voting booths.
Recent elections in Murfreesboro
Murfreesboro, Tennessee is located in Rutherford County. The Murfreesboro mayor is Shane McFarland. McFarland has been the Murfreesboro mayor since 2014, and his term expires in 2022. He has gained a name for himself as the youngest mayor of Murfreesboro.
Alongside McFarland is the Vice-Mayor of Murfreesboro, Madelyn Scales Harris. Harris is the first female Vice-Mayor in Murfreesboro and holds the same position that her father held before her as the first black Vice-Mayor. Rutherford County has a governmental body with a high Republican count.
The mayor of Rutherford County, Bill Ketron Jr, is a registered Republican and took office in September 2018. Like the rest of Tennessee, Murfreesboro votes consistently Republican. The margins are slimmer than other regions of Tennessee or Rutherford County, but it still leans conservative.
The higher number of liberals in Murfreesboro is likely due to a combination of it being a more urban area and having a higher percentage of the population with higher education. Murfreesboro is still firmly located in a red state, however, so ultimately the city votes for conservative candidates. In the 2020 presidential election, Tennessee voted for the Republican candidate Donald Trump over the Democrat candidate Joe Biden by 23%, once again showing its consistency as a red state.
Murfreesboro seems to be loyal to its home state, unlike many other large cities. There’s no exact way to determine why a city votes the way it does, but it does beg the question; why is Murfreesboro so different from other cities?
Why is Murfreesboro Conservative?
What makes Murfreesboro conservative? This is certainly a unique question to ask. In America, the more urban a region typically is, the more liberal they become. Vice versa, the more rural a place is, the more conservative the residents are.
Murfreesboro is a very urban city, they’re one of the biggest cities in Tennessee and are rapidly growing. Everybody wants to live in Murfreesboro! The city is actually becoming very crowded as more and more people move in. Residents often complain that the living spaces are too cramped and crowded from real estate developers trying to fit in as many people as possible in a space. Despite the high crowding and urbanization, Murfreesboro continues to vote conservative. Why?
This could be in large part because Murfreesboro is in a very red state. Tennessee is known for being steadfastly Republican, and it is located in America’s “Bible Belt”, a strip of the US that’s known for being hyper-religious. However, the way a state votes doesn’t actually impact the political views of a city very much. Even cities in a red state will vote liberal on a consistent basis. So, while this might be part of the reason, it isn’t enough to just say that Murfreesboro just votes the way its state votes.
Murfreesboro may be a crowded city, but it’s surrounded by a lot of rural farmland. The political views of this surrounding area leak into Murfreesboro, making it more conservative. There’s also the rush of new citizens coming to Murfreesboro from other regions, and bringing their political views with them. It’s likely that these newcomers are conservative and are keeping Murfreesboro more like a small town than a big city in political views. The irony is that more people are making Murfreesboro feel smaller.
How Does this Compare to Tennessee?
How does Murfreesboro compare to its surrounding state? We’ve established that the city is conservative, like Tennessee, but isn’t just a carbon copy of any other region in the state. States are defined by having a political majority that is spotted through with opposing views (unless it’s a swing state, in which case both parties are on equal footing). Although Murfreesboro can be labeled as conservative, it isn’t only conservative by any means.
The voting habits in Murfreesboro lean Republican, but not by much. Compared to the rest of their state, Murfreesboro is actually pretty liberal. In Rutherford County, Republican candidates win elections, but not by much more than half of the votes. Let’s compare that to the rest of Tennessee.
Tennessee hasn’t always been totally conservative and voted liberal in two presidential elections twenty years ago in 1992 and 1996. Since then, the state has become progressively more conservative, voting Republican in the 2020 election with 60.7% of the population voting for Donald Trump. So, even though Tennessee has a reputation for being conservative, it might have more in common with Murfreesboro than it looks at first glance.
Both are ultimately Republican regions but have a fairly balanced set of political views. Having more diverse political opinions is always good. In recent years, the United States has become steadily more polarized when it comes to politics. Both sides are drawing thick lines in the sand between themselves and the other side, which leads to division and a lack of free thinking.
So, part of what makes Murfreesboro so popular might just be the even divide between conservatives and liberals. Either way, Murfreesboro stands distinctly apart from its state, but that doesn’t mean Tennessee is altogether predictable either.
The Political History of Tennessee and Murfreesboro
Tennessee became a state in 1796, early in America’s history as an independent country. It has largely been a farming state, their motto is even “Agriculture and Commerce”. Tennessee has deep roots in rural living, leading to its current status as a Republican state, as rural states tend to vote Republican.
The Volunteer State was founded in large part by pioneers, who had fierce independence and a strong work ethic that is still alive in the state today. Tennessee has always been a state proud of its history in early America and as a pioneer state.
Like Tennessee, Murfreesboro has its roots in farming and agriculture. They were mostly farmland, though several colleges were built by 1853, which promoted change in the city. After World War II, Murfreesboro turned to manufacturing and industry, which it still revolves around today. Murfreesboro has never forgotten its agricultural history, even as it grows into a thriving metropolis.
Murfreesboro has seen massive growth in recent years, and it looks like the city will see more in the future. Murfreesboro balances rural and progressive life within its borders, as it was established by both farmers and manufacturers. This balance between rural and urban may account for Murfreesboro’s split between liberal and conservative.
The city has not forgotten its roots, and it’s still very connected to the agricultural industry, but it also doesn’t shy away from progression and has embraced the Industrial Revolution. Murfreesboro’s political stance may shift as it adapts to fit a quickly growing population, but only time will tell.
Why Do Cities Tend to Vote Liberal?
Murfreesboro stands out as a conservative city, but why is that such an odd occurrence? Are cities really so consistently liberal? Many politicians have bet their careers on the fact that cities will always choose liberal candidates, and the bigger the city, the more liberal it tends to be. There isn’t one reason we can point to as to why this is, but it’s true for nearly every city in America, regardless of the color of the state.
One theory is that cities are more diverse, promoting more new ideas, and thus are more progressive. Another is that rural and liberal areas don’t build Democrats and Republicans, they attract them. People move to the country or city because those places are more conducive to their lifestyles, and divide themselves into these groups. There does seem to be an influx of people coming to the city with liberal views, but a far smaller portion of conservatives are moving to the country.
The strongest argument is that the country fosters conservative values because you have smaller communities of people that are more used to caring for themselves and their community without government interference, so they favor less government interference and tend to be conservative.
In cities, people are more anonymous. They don’t have the same scrutiny and don’t feel as pressured to promote conservative values the way people are in the country. With this anonymity comes less community support, so they look for that support from the government. Cities also require more organization than rural areas because they’re bigger and denser, so there are a lot of people to take care of.