Why do coastal areas lean liberal and inland areas lean conservative?

This seems to be true across most of the US. In my home state of Maine, the coast is full of people who are very liberal. Inland Maine, especially away from the cities of Auburn and Augusta, leans much more conservative. States with coastlines seem to lean more liberal in general than landlocked states. Why is this the case?

WAG that the middle class is less conservative and more likely to be able to afford coastal properties than working class folk.

You’re looking at the wrong correlation. It’s cities that lean liberal, and rural areas that lean conservative. And cities tend to be clustered on coasts. When you look at election results, even conservative states have more liberal cities, and liberal states have conservative rural areas.

There is a correlation to education levels and numbers of Democrats/Republicans. With areas of higher proportions of Democrats having higher education levels. And areas of higher proportions of Republicans having lower education levels/higher levels of high school drop out rates.

With that said, I’ve noticed on the west coast that home and rent costs are MUCH higher in costal areas. (I don’t know about the east coast?) So perhaps a higher level of education is needed to earn the money to be able to live in coastal areas?

I wonder if there is a relationship with coastal cities, ethnic diversity, and liberal ideals. Perhaps during earlier waves of immigration when transportation was less available and more expensive than now, immigration to coastal cities was logistically easier. Coastal cities became more diverse, which attracted more minorities and reinforces diversity. Diverse populations in cities–> liberal ideals?

There are lots of exceptions – in fact nearly 40% of states break this “rule”. It’s only true if you ignore NC, SC, GA, AL, MS, LA, TX, and AK which tend to be red, and the 11 inland states which were blue in the 2012 election. For the rest, I would venture you’ve got a lot of red in “flyover country”, aka “the heartland”, because it’s disproportionately rural and the demographics tend to be religious and conservative and with lower levels of education corresponding to rural industries like farming and ranching as opposed to urban white-collar jobs.

ETA: There are even more exceptions if you include the times Florida has gone red, and California was almost consistently Republican in presidential elections from 1952 to 1992.

The MD and VA coastal areas are conservative. The liberal parts are in and around the urban areas, which are not on the coast. The premise is flawed. It’s not coasts that attract/create/reinforce liberals, it is the urban areas.

Ummm… I have to disagree. Baltimore is a port city. Annapolis (home of the Naval Academy) is coastal, DC is darn near the coast/bay (slightly removed because invasion sucks), Virginia Beach is coastal, Columbia (MD) is pretty close to Baltimore (basically a suburb), Norfolk is the largest city in VA (and home to the largest Naval base in the US), Richmond isn’t far from the coast, and Chesapeake is well - named after the bay it sits next to.

Part of the conservative piece in this region (I live next to Ft. Meade) is likely the large number of Federal employees/military and military contractors. Many of us in this area work in sensitive and/or classified environments, which tends to contribute to a degree of conservative thought (we’re always thinking about worst-case scenarios, security breaches, etc).

I’m not sure how you can disagree. Baltimore, DC and Annapolis are away from the coast compared to the Eastern Shore, which is rural and relatively conservative. The entire Baltimore/DC area is liberal, but it’s also very built-up/urban. But as soon as you go north, south, east or west of the cities, it gets fairly conservative.

Don’t ask for cites, I got nuttin’, but the story I’ve always heard was that the coasts were where strange people from distant lands came to your ports to trade. If you hate everyone that’s different, it doesn’t work for trade. People from ports became more tolerant of other cultures, the inland folks kept their xenophobia. Maybe true, maybe not.

Suburbs of heavily Democratic cities tend to go strongly Republican and I doubt that their educational levels are lower. Most strikingly, I read once that the very same people who voted Dem when they lived in the city moved to the burbs and started to vote Rep. I cannot explain this except as some sort of “magnetic domain” hypothesis. (Your compass needle is influenced by nearby magnets.)

Yeah, the education level argument is BS. There are just as many dumb and uneducated democrat voters as there are republican ones. But the reason some people who move to the suburbs and/or country and start voting republican (I doubt this happens a lot, actually) might be that they buy property and start accumulating some wealth and don’t want to see it all taken by the government in taxes.

I recall from Sociology that Blacks moved in large numbers to northern cities after the Civil War. Many immigrants from Europe of course settled in cities. An interesting result was that each incoming wave of immigrants (whether internal or external) tended to raise the standard of living for those who were already established in the cities, and who were on the lower economic strata. I can’t remember why (I still have my textbook around here somewhere), but ISTR that the newcomers took the lower-level/unskilled jobs, allowing the established population to advance into better jobs. But I think that diversity does equate to more liberal attitudes, as people need to live together. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed that people in less diverse areas tend to be more provincial and more conservative.

I don’t think you’re going to get a real GQ answer to this question. I think this is destined for GD. Because you’re asking why people have certain opinions in certain areas and you’re not going to get a definitive answer, just different theories that are going to be colored by a particular political viewpoint themselves.

I think you may be misunderstanding the education argument as being partisan or trying to be disparaging. This isn’t about who’s “dumb” but trying to provide an analytical response to the question.

That said, I would agree that educational level is probably the lesser of some of the other demographic factors cited in how party affiliation tends to be distributed by states, but it’s not BS. It’s probably more fair to say that it’s complicated. What makes it complicated is that in general population polls, one tends to find stronger support for Democrats among the very lowest educational tiers, then a convergence as you get up to “some college”, but after that the Democratic affiliation increases with higher educational levels.

It’s even more complicated when looking at states because of the demographic mix, but still, you do tend to find the highest levels of educational attainment in the northeast, and the lowest in the traditional south. But again, some of the other factors cited, primarily rural vs. urban, and local history, are probably much more significant in determining party affiliation.

State level isn’t granular enough. If you look at a red/blue map by county, it’s more obvious that urban areas skew liberal while rural areas skew conservative.

Education is a factor, with college educated skewing more liberal. But urban areas also have more poor minorities who skew Democrat as well and tend to take advantage of more government services.

More rural areas tend to have more of a culture of independence and self reliance and are typically less reliant on government services so they tend to favor more conservative positions.

Cities are built by water and are more liberal, farms are built on prairies and are more rural and conservative. It isn’t a red state/blue state issue, it’s a rural/urban issue. There are a lot of good reasons for this phenomenon listed in this thread, but in my opinion it’s just that cities are more diverse and rural areas tend to self-select for a certain kind of – “conformity” isn’t really the right word, but whatever the opposite of “diverse” is. And the diversity of cities comes from both living in close proximity to people far outside your socioeconomic level, and the fact that there are far more immigrants in cities than there are on farms.

There are exceptions to this (Orange County and doubtless other areas) but in general I believe this is true. In California, the large cities tend to be very Liberal and the rural areas not. I’ve actually seen this charted. I’m off to look for that cite.

On the points about education, I did a quick search to confirm what I had remembered from something I saw somewhere about 15 years ago, and most of what I remembered was confirmed:

Below High School skewed Democratic
High School graduates through College graduates were almost perfectly even, with several polls skewing some of these levels to be Republican
Post-graduates skewed Democratic
Here’s one cite

The numbers I remember from before (and for which I have no cite) were a bit more granular, had High School and some college to be Republican, Bachelor’s Degrees to be Democratic, Master’s Degrees to be Republican, and higher degrees to be Democratic.

Now, whatever conclusions one can draw from these, we can definitely say that there is no linear correlation between education level and party affiliation.

This is just a guess, but at least 2 factors could be in play

  1. Port cities (which aren’t necessarily the same as coastal cities) have a lot of immigrants and multiculturalism, which tends to make someone less conservative. This is one reason people become more liberal in college, they are exposed to multi-culturalism

  2. The west coast is mostly large cities. Outside of the large cities the west coast is fairly red (at least in California). That is because large cities are full of minorities and white liberals. So that may be another issue, there is some natural overlap between ‘coastal’ and ‘large cities’.