The Music City is a major music and entertainment hub in the US. It’s a fantastic place to visit and live. Tennessee is considered a very red southern state, but is Nashville a conservative city?
Nashville, Tennessee is not a conservative city. The city is a moderately liberal city that resides in a conservative state. The local politics of the city tend to lean left similar to most large cities in the US but are reigned in by the much more conservative laws of the state government.
While the city may vote democrat in a lot of elections there is a lot that goes into making a city red or blue. We’ll go over the federal and local election history of the city as well as the state of conservative policies and what neighborhoods are more conservative.
Information About Nashville, Tennessee
- Population Estimate July 2021: 678,851
- Race: 55.3% White (not hispanic), 27.3% Black, 10.5% Latino or Hispanic, 6.9% other
- Median Household Income: $62,087
Nashville, Tennessee is also known as Nashville-Davidson since the governments of the City of Nashville and Davidson County were consolidated in 1963 to just one government that governs both the county and the city itself. Nashville is also the state capital of Tennessee.
Nashville is well known for the music industry in the area. While it’s best known for country music, the music city has artists from all genres. Nashville’s music and entertainment industry supports 56,000 jobs in the area and has a $10 billion economic impact on the area every year. It is well known for its bars and clubs where you can go to enjoy drinks and live music.
The city hosts many concerts and sporting events every year and is home to both the Tennessee Titans NFL team and Bristol Motor Speedway.
On the subject of conservative politics, Nashville is home to two well-known conservative media companies: The Dave Ramsey Network a financial coaching company, and The Daily Wire a fast-growing conservative news and entertainment company that moved to the area from Los Angeles in 2020.
Nashville stands out from the rest of Tennessee by voting consistently for the Democrat candidates in elections while the rest of the state tends to vote Republican.
In the 2020 presidential election, Davidson County was one of only three counties in Tennessee to vote for Joseph Biden. The county voted 64.5% for Joe Biden and 32.4% for Donald Trump.
In the 2020 US Senate race, Davidson County voted 61% for Marquita Bradshaw (D) and 35.2% for Bill Haggerty (R). Despite winning the vote in Davidson County, the Democratic presidential candidates and the senate candidates lost the vote in Tennessee as a whole.
Nashville Democrats have been able to make progress in the US House, however. Jim Cooper (D) has represented Tennessee’s 5th congressional district containing most of Nashville since 2003. In the 2020 election, there was no Republican challenger for the seat.
Democrats long held control over the congressional district is currently being threatened, however. Current redistricting plans by the Tennessee state government will likely result in much tighter races between republican and democrat candidates over the next decade. Nashville will be split into three separate districts rather than one district containing the entire city. Those three districts were drawn to potentially favor conservatives in the future, so there is the possibility that Nashville will lose the Liberal representative in the future.
State and Local Elections
State and Local elections are where liberal voters tend to make the most difference. Nashville has several Democratic state representatives and senators in districts that have had a long history of liberal representation.
Mayoral elections in Nashville are a non-partisan race. This requires residents of the city to do more research when choosing their candidates for office. This creates some opportunity for candidates’ personal views to become a more influential part of the elections, but it does still result in more liberal mayors of the city. In the last election for mayor, both candidates John Cooper and David Briley ran as non-partisans but identify as democrats and frequently tout their progressive policy positions.
School board elections in Tennessee have been nonpartisan for the past several years, but due to a recent change in laws, candidates will now be able to identify as part of a party or continue to run as a non-partisan on the ballot. Parents will now be able to choose candidates based on party affiliation.
Tennessee has recently passed laws to prevent school districts from teaching principles of Critical Race Theory to their students. Because of these laws, school districts that do this will lose funding. The state would instead focus much less on race relations in its public schools and more in line with conservative thought.
The state is also passing a law that would require student-athletes to compete on school teams according to their sex at birth and a law that protects teachers that choose not to use a child’s preferred pronouns that don’t match their sex.
The governor of Tennessee has also been attempting to institute an education voucher system that would provide state funding to students that choose to go to private schools or certain homeschooling programs. School choice is a growing issue for conservatives and Tennessee is one of the few states to start attempting a program of this nature. Nashville has been fighting the state on the issue and the bill was held up for three years by a lawsuit but has again started to move forward as of July 2022.
Tennessee is known for being a state with no income taxes, which is very attractive to conservatives. Nashville, Tennessee has no local or state income tax.
Property Taxes in Nashville, Tennessee are also fairly low compared to the rest of the country. Property taxes in Nashville are calculated as 3.25% in the urban centers and generally 25% of the appraised value of the residential property.
Tennessee makes up for the low property taxes and lack of income tax in its sales tax. Sales tax is the main source of tax revenue in Tennessee, accounting for 60% of the total tax revenue. The effective sales tax for purchases made in Nashville is 9.25%. The state sales tax rate is 7.00% and the county sales tax rate is 2.25%.
Tennessee does provide some sales tax relief for essential groceries. Food, food ingredients, and some other items have a special tax rate of just 4.00%. This does not include preprepared foods that you’d find in a restaurant or grocery store deli.
Many Nashville residents and politicians favor gun control policies, but there are hardly any specific gun laws that are local to Nashville. The city is instead subject to the Gun laws enacted by the much more conservative state government.
The Tennessee state government passed a new permitless carry law that went into effect in 2021. The new law allows anyone over 21 who is legally allowed to own a firearm to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense. Tennessee also has a Castle Doctrine law and Stand Your Ground law that protects people who defend themselves with deadly force in their home and does not require the person to retreat before defending themselves.
Tennessee has no state red flag laws, gun registration requirements, or magazine limits on firearms.
Tennessee is a very gun-friendly state, and Nashville follows those laws. Public opinion and the political leanings of public prosecutors are the only major concern for conservatives concerned about gun policy in Nashville at the moment. Many of the residents of Nashville are not pro-2nd amendment themselves but have little power to make any changes.
The City of Nashville is a pro-abortion city, but like several other issues, they have little power over the anti-abortion state government.
The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24th, 2022 gave state legislatures the ability to make decisions on abortion issues in their state. Tennessee’s trigger law will go into effect 30 days after that decision and will effectively ban all abortions in the state with few exceptions. Conservatives will be very happy with these new laws from the state government, but the city of Nashville has been vocally against the new ban.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced on July 5th, 2022 that the local government would be rolling out new benefits to city employees, allowing them to travel to other states to receive abortions funded by local tax revenue. This has been a democratic policy in several areas where abortion is being banned, and it’s one that serious pro-life advocates would not want their tax dollars going to.
What Parts of Nashville are More Conservative?
While Davidson Counties voted heavily for Joe Biden in the 2020 election, neighboring Williamson County, Rutherford County, and Wilson County all containing suburbs of the Nashville Metro area all voted in a nearly opposite pattern to Nashville itself. Williamson County, for example, voted 62.2% for the Republican candidate and 36.1% for the Democrat candidate.
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