Orange County Register
New Yorkers like to think of themselves as ahead of the curve but, this year, they seem to be embracing the most regressive politics. The overwhelming favorite in Tuesday’s primary among Republican candidates – with more than 50 percent support, according to RealClearPolitics – is Donald Trump, the brash New Yorker whose campaign vows to “make America great again.” On the Democratic side, New Yorkers appear to prefer Hillary Clinton, their former U.S. senator and quintessential avatar of the gentry liberals, rather than feeling “the Bern.”
Some of this stems from political causes – for example, Clinton’s close ties with progressives around Mayor Bill De Blasio – or the fact that the New York primary electorate is 30 percent nonwhite compared with 17 percent in Wisconsin. For Republicans, the overall weakness of the state party, a paucity of evangelicals and Ted Cruz’s poorly chosen attack on “New York values” all favor Trump.
But the real driver of Trump’s success lies in the changing social, economic and demographic forces reshaping the Empire State. The city has enjoyed a considerable surge in employment, much of it – roughly one-third – in low-wage jobs. But the real “losers,” to use one of Trump’s favorite terms, has been the middle class, which is disappearing even faster in New York than in the rest of the country.
This distress can be seen in migration numbers. While states like Texas and Florida are gaining hundreds of thousands of new residents, the New York metropolitan area has lost 701,000 net domestic migrants the past five years, after losing more than 1.9 million in the first decade of the new millennium. Greater New York loses net migrants to virtually every big U.S. urban region, even Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Boston, as well as to Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston.
Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com. He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us, will be published in April by Agate. He is also author of The New Class Conflict, The City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.