October 15th, 2008
04:13 PM ET

Suburbs' pain could swing election

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/15/art.suburbia.jpg]Lawrence C. Levy
Executive Director of the National Center for Suburban Studies, Hofstra University

As they have for the last five elections, moderate "swing" suburbanites are almost certain to decide who will be the next president.

No wonder: More people live and vote in the suburbs than either cities or rural areas. And in these once rock-ribbed Republican communities, more suburbanites divide their loyalties between the major parties.

According to new research, the counties with the closest margins of victory in the last few presidential and statewide elections were all suburban - most of them in the most competitive "purple" states, such as Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia.

But suburban voting power has been on the rise for years. What's new in this election year is the surprising level of economic pain suburbanites are feeling and the extent to which it will drive their decision between Barack Obama and John McCain.

The economy has been especially tough on the least prosperous homeowners, many of whom are new immigrant and minority groups diversifying suburbia, who took advantage of - or were taken advantage by - sub-prime mortgage loans they eventually couldn't afford.


Editor's note: Lawrence C. Levy is executive director of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, which is hosting the third and final presidential debate Wednesday night. A former columnist and editorial writer for Newsday, he has written widely on political and social change in the suburbs.

Filed under: Barack Obama • Economy • John McCain • Raw Politics
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Sue B.

    Lance: The racist slant of your first sentence effectively stopped me from reading the rest of your post. DENIED.

    October 15, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
  2. Tim Spring Hill, Fl

    Obama doesn't need to "count on the black vote or the 18-30 vote, he CAN depend on the "American Vote". This is 2008 and the right thinking American still sees the world through 50 year old glasses. This Country has changed and the "Right" Thinking Americans need to open their eyes and see the world as it really is. Obama will win this election, the world depends on it.

    As far as being realistic, McCain left that station months ago when he picked Palin as a running mate!

    October 15, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  3. Sandra

    Amazing, that people can easily be swayed back and forth by the candidates empty words and promises. I think McCain has run a terrible campaign, but he is the best choice for president if you care about the economy, jobs and taxes. It's the basic principle you should vote for. They are all politicians and there words are meaningless.

    October 15, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  4. Johnnie

    Too lazy? See you at the polls! Obama for President!

    October 15, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  5. Lance Story

    Obama cannot depend on the "Black" vote because they are too lazy to vote. They hear the polls and figure he's a "shoe-in". So why vote. There is a long history of this. Another group Obama cannot rely on is the 18-30 age group. With good intentions, they actively attend rallies, but on election day they are too busy with school work, family stuff. Last election, the November 2 Campaign was widely promoted on campus and nearby towns. On e-day, they didn't vote and Bush won.
    Let's be realistic, McCain's base is more solid and no right thinking American wants to see Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reed running the nation directing Obama's every move.

    October 15, 2008 at 5:03 pm |