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Connor Barwin's Civic Season

This week, the all-pro linebacker and citizen activist measures how our civic health stacks up against New York

It is of course important to note that New York City is simply incomparable to any other city. First, it is huge—one of the geographically largest of the Rustbelt cities, yet also the most dense, which gives it its humongous population (almost 8.5 million). If New York City were a state, it would be the 12th most populous. New York is an economic powerhouse of truly global proportions, as evidenced by its much higher median household income: $52,259 versus $37,192 for Philadelphia.

One area that makes for a fascinating comparison between the two cities is our very different electoral politics. There are slight differences in voter registration between the two cities—the percentage of Democrats in NYC is 68.7 percent and in Philly it’s 78.6 percent. Yet there are slightly fewer Republicans in NYC than in Philly, 10.3 percent versus 11.2 percent—so why doesn’t New York, like Philly, reflect overwhelmingly Democratic mayoral victories?

“The mayor of New York has in recent history been more likely to be a moderate Republican—Lindsay, Guiliani, Bloomberg—than a Democrat,” saysProfessor Richardson Dilworth of Drexel’s Center for Public Policy. “Most people would actually consider Ed Koch to have really been a moderate Republican, or at least a very conservative Democrat. Even the New Dealer and FDR buddy Fiorella LaGuardia was a Republican.”

So why do the cities differ? Part of the answer is the historical evolution of the parties in both cities.

“A major concern for Philadelphia Democrats is that, even if they elected someone who was a Republican in name only (such as New Yorkers did when they elected Bloomberg, who had very recently been a Democrat), that person would still be beholden to the statewide Republican party, and it would once again lead to a monolithic shift in parties—which would also make Pennsylvania a solid Republican state in presidential elections,” Dilworth says.  “In other words, sophisticated Philadelphia voters may actually be thinking of national politics when they vote against Republicans, even in their off-year local elections. This was certainly an idea the local Democratic party pushed when they were faced with the challenge of Sam Katz against John Street in 1999 and 2003. By contrast, Democratic New York has always had a political machine independent of the state—and Republicans elected mayor in New York tend to be seen as city-specific reformers running against the city Democratic machine, not as part of a state Republican machine. So local voters in NYC are in some respects more free to vote for Republicans as a protest against their own party than are voters in Philadelphia.”

 But it goes even deeper. New York encompasses much of its suburbs in its own boundaries—and those areas contain legions of what came to be known as “Reagan Democrats.” Think of the Archie Bunker TV character in Queens—though he may be a registered Democrat, he’s far more likely to vote conservatively for mayor and president.

“In Philadelphia, this voting bloc is more likely to be outside of the city, in Delaware County—where there is of course still a strong Republican machine,” Dilworth explains. “There are often a lot of complaints about Philadelphia being a one-party town. It’s a civic weakness but it may be that trying to strengthen the city’s Republican party is not the most viable solution because Philadelphia voters recognize that the city is structurally incapable of sustaining a two-party system. If you want a viable two-party system in the city, maybe you need to follow the example of NYC and push for the annexation of the three surrounding counties.”

Of course, that’s a politically far-fetched scenario. But it’s certainly worth talking about in the context of trying to find a path to a more pluralist political system. And that’s a fitting way to conclude our civic season—with the beginnings of a discussion about how we go about strengthening the state of our local union. Thanks for reading this season’s experiment in the health of our civic life!

Note: We played New York three times this season, but only count the city once in our Civic Scorecard.

Results

Philadelphia

Eagles

vs

New York

Giants

% BA or higher

24.4

7 POINTS

Giants

% BA or higher

34.9

% Below poverty

27.2

7 POINTS

Giants

% Below poverty

21.0

% Bike to work

2.1

7 POINTS

Eagles

% Bike to work

1.0

% Moved to city in past year

4.6

7 POINTS

Giants

% Moved to city in past year

4.8

Violent crime per 1,000 residents

11.0

7 POINTS

Giants

Violent crime per 1,000 residents

6.2

% Volunteer

26.1

7 POINTS

Eagles

% Volunteer

17.7

% Voted in last mayoral election

25.5

7 POINTS

Eagles

% Voted in last mayoral election

23.80

Income Inequality Index

.51

7 POINTS

Eagles

Income Inequality Index

.54

% of population aged 22 to 34

22.5

7 POINTS

Eagles

% of population aged 22 to 34

22.13

Final Score

35

Philadelphia

Eagles

Final Score

28

Sep. 14
21-35

Falcons

Falcons

Sep. 20
21-42

Cowboys

Cowboys

Sep. 27
28-35

Jets

Jets

Oct. 04
14-42

Redskins

Redskins

Oct. 11
21-42

Saints

Saints

Oct. 19
28-35

Giants

Giants

Oct. 25
21-35

Panthers

Panthers

Nov. 08
21-42

Cowboys

Cowboys

Nov. 15
56-0

Eagles

Dolphins

Nov. 22
35-28

Eagles

Buccaneers

Nov. 26
42-7

Eagles

Lions

Dec. 06
28-35

Patriots

Patriots

Dec. 13
42-21

Eagles

Bills

Oct. 19
35-28

Eagles

Cardinals

Dec. 26
14-42

Redskins

Redskins

Jan. 03
35-28

Eagles

Giants

Civic Record:

EAGLES

Wins

5

Losses

7

Upcoming Games:

Data compiled by Ken Gross, Quantitative Innovations.

All data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 2011-2013 except:Volunteer rates; crime stats.

Voter turnout rates from Philadelphia’s 2015 general election; New York’s 2013 general election.

More info on the GINI Index of Income Inequality.

* All team logos are property of the NFL and their respective franchises.

Homepage photo: Brian Garfinkel/Philadelphia Eagles

  

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