Republicans occupy the governor’s mansion in a majority of states and control both chambers of state legislatures where a majority of Americans live. In a country that is becoming more urban, however, Democrats have a major advantage: Their party runs most big U.S. cities. Of the 15 largest U.S. cities, only two — San Diego and Indianapolis — have Republican mayors, and 13 of the 15 have Democratic-controlled city councils.
Yet despite the Democrats’ urban dominance, cities may soon be up for grabs. For the party’s refusal to embrace the innovative technology and disruptive businesses that have greatly improved city life presents a challenge to Democrats — and an opportunity for Republicans.
Democrats are facing a tough choice. A big part of their base is the unions now facing off against such disruptive innovations as Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and charter schools. Do Democrats support the regulations pushed by taxi and other unions that help to protect the status quo but can also stifle competition? Or do they embrace innovative technologies and businesses that expand transportation options, create jobs and are increasingly welcomed by another key Democratic constituency: urban dwellers, particularly young urban dwellers?
Consider Uber, the popular ride-sharing service just valued at $18 billion. The news has been filled recently with stories about how state and local governments are dealing with this disruptive business. Ridesharing companies are the focus of legislative and regulatory officials in Chicago, New Orleans, Miami, Boston, Pittsburgh and other cities across the country. June began with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s administration sending a cease and desist letter to Uber and ended with Washington taxi union members protesting the competition.
Many of these innovative new businesses were birthed in California’s Bay Area, a Democratic stronghold. They are favorites of city dwellers, which means most of the leading Democratic constituencies — including educated professionals, gays, minorities, single women and working mothers.