Picked this up from and a former editor and colleague, a map that shows the most liberal and conservative cities in each state. Let’s break it apart some.
The most interesting part, as it goes for Tennessee, is that the most liberal (Memphis) and conservative (Shady Valley) towns are literally across the state from each other:
… but Memphis is an actual city, while Shady Valley is unincorporated. Which shows some alignment with the poll questions used to make this map:
Clarity Campaign Labs used its national models and the Co-Op voter file from SmartVAN to make the tool. It analyzes users’ political views based on seven identifiers and asks them whether they apply:
I identify with the Democrats more so than the Republicans.
Abortion should be legal and accessible to all women.
I attend religious services regularly.
Climate change is an immediate concern that must be addressed.
There should be more restrictions on purchasing and carrying guns.
The government should reduce the deficit primarily by raising taxes rather than cutting services.
I prefer urban areas.
According to Clarity, the questions about urban areas and church attendance were not included in the score used to indicate whether a community was liberal or conservative. Aside from those two questions, indicating agreement with any of the other queries was considered liberal.
So based only on proximity, Knoxville is more conservative and Nashville is so-so (This is not science, by the way, just a reporter – me – with maybe a little too much time on his hands.)
Buut, I last worked in Greensboro, which was labeled North Carolina’s most liberal city. Based on personal experience and 15 years in the state, I can see the argument. One might say Asheville takes the cheese – or the donkey, if you’re into symbolism – but I’m betting the edges of the city are still conservative enough to mitigate some of the liberal leanings of Asheville.
Meanwhile, to draw further comparisons, Greensboro, like Knoxville, is kind of a blue dot in a sea of red. Go 15 minutes out of the city – like Knoxville – and you’re more likely to find conservative types than your liberal folks.
One more note – Tennessee’s most conservative spot (which, again, isn’t even incorporated) is about 90 minutes from North Carolina’s top conservative location:
This was a few years ago, so the anecdotal nature of this may be a little tarnished, but from the five years I spent at Appalachian, I found the communities outside of the college town to be pretty conservative. And, despite the (pretty much dead) hippy culture at the school, it was considered to be one of the UNC System’s most conservative college campuses. Anyway, geography is fun.