Tax Consumers and Political Spectrum Analysis


If you are ready for another detailed take on so-called red state/blue-state divides, over in the Winter 2005 issue of Manhattan Institute's City Journal, Steven Malanga says there are no blue states, only blue cities. And why? Because cities are full of tax-consumers whose very livelihoods depend on Democratic activism, he says:

The electoral activism of this New New Left coalition–public-employee unions, hospitals and health-care worker unions, and social-services agencies–has reshaped the politics of many cities. As the country's national political scene has edged rightward, thwarting their ambitions in Washington, these groups have turned their attention to urban America, where they still have the power to influence public policy.

….In New York, for instance, more than two-thirds of city council members are former government employees or ex-workers in health care or social services…..One reason that these politicians have succeeded electorally is that those who work in the public sector have different voting priorities from private-sector workers or business owners. An exit poll conducted by City Journal of the 2001 New York mayoral election found that private-sector workers heavily backed Michael Bloomberg, the businessman candidate who had been endorsed by Rudy Giuliani and had run on a pledge of no new taxes (which he broke after his first year in office), while those who worked in the public/health-care/social-services sectors favored his Democratic opponent, who ran on a promise of raising taxes to fund further services. In the race, Bloomberg won among private-sector voters by 17 percentage points, while the Democrat won by 15 points among those who worked in the public/nonprofit sectors.

And of course public-sector workers, who know they are going to the polls to elect their bosses, make sure to remember to vote. Though they make up about one-third of New York City's workforce, public/nonprofit-sector voters made up 37 percent of the electorate in the 2001 mayoral race….With so much of their economic future at stake in elections, the tax eaters have emerged as the new infantry of political campaigns, replacing the ward captains and district leaders of old-time political clubs.

One thing the article doesn't spend much time on, and would be helpful in making his case, is explaining exactly how and in what ways GOP policies–which aren't exactly shrinking the public sector–are stymieing or harming these interest groups, however Democrat-leaning they might be in their political culture and loyalties.