The battle for 2020 goes through the suburbs, but it’s not even clear what the suburbs are these days

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The 2020 election is just around the corner.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are both aiming to lock down votes in an essential middle ground between largely Democratic cities and just as Republican rural areas: suburbs.

In the first presidential debate on September 29, Trump claimed that if Biden “ever got to run this country … our suburbs would be gone, and you would see problems like you’ve never seen before.”

Biden immediately took issue with that statement, saying  Trump “wouldn’t know a suburb if he took a wrong turn.” Biden added that he himself “was raised in a suburb,” a contrast with Trump, a native New Yorker who grew up in Queens.

Except Biden may not have been quite right on this issue, either. He spent his childhood living in the two cities of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware.

Both Biden and Trump may have grown up in suburb-like communities within larger cities, Trump in Jamaica Estates and Biden in Green Ridge, but that gets to the crux of what’s so strange about this debate: No one quite knows what a suburb actually is these days. Even the federal government’s own HUD and Census Bureau found in 2017 that 52% of all US households described their neighborhoods as suburban.

The majority of Americans are suburban, lying in the famous swing districts that will decide the election, but clearly Trump and Biden mean very different things when they talk about winning the suburban vote. So what are they actually talking about, and to who?

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What is a suburb, actually?

Most Americans might consider themselves suburban, but that doesn’t mean they live in necessarily similar places. The definition of a suburb changes depending on who you ask.

The term has practically been rendered a semantic argument. Some have a location-based definition: that it’s a smaller community on the outskirts of a larger city, while others define it visually, by cul-de-sacs upon cul-de-sacs of similarly developed homes. Both could be correct, since there’s no existing federal definition for suburbia.

Existing HUD definitions of American areas include “urban” and “rural,” but there is no such “suburban” category.

A 2013 Harvard University study found that there is “no consensus to what exactly constitutes a suburb.” It added that suburbs have been defined over the years by any number of metrics from physical proximity to cities, to modes of transportation, to general appearance.

The 2017 HUD/Census survey which found most Americans consider themselves suburban also found that 27% describe their neighborhoods as urban and 21% as rural.

The results of the 55,000-person survey, discussed in summer 2020 webinars and papers, were built upon similar surveys from Trulia, Indeed, and Pew Research Center. All confirmed the idea that most Americans believe they live in a suburb.

“With multiple national surveys reaching the same conclusions, the notion that the majority of Americans live in the suburbs is no longer an anecdote — it’s a fact,” Shawn Bucholtz, the head statistical officer at HUD, said.

That fact is steeped in differing perceptions. Roughly …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics


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