Kalamazoo Michigan

12 Most Liberal Cities in Michigan

Most Liberal Cities in Michigan

After traveling across Michigan’s landscapes, from its busy cities to the peaceful Great Lakes, I’ve become deeply connected to its people. A trend that’s grown stronger recently is that the political climate influences someone’s next home purchase.

The Great Lakes State of Michigan offers a number of multicultural, welcoming, and liberal communities. The progressive spirit of these areas has been my experience through travel and interactions.

Ranking these cities from 12 to 1, with the first spot reserved for the most liberally spirited city, is no small task. This exploration is based on historical voting patterns, social programs, local legislation, and, most importantly, my observations of critical social issues.

For those whose hearts beat to a liberal drum, looking to find a corner in Michigan that resonates with your values, this list is for you. Whether you’re planning a move or simply curious about the political contours of the Great Lakes State, let’s delve into the progressive pockets that make Michigan truly unique.

And for those with a curiosity for the other side of the spectrum, a counterpart exploration of Michigan’s most conservative cities is in this article.

12. Marquette

Marquette, which may be found in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is a kind community recognized for its support of liberal ideals. This city, which has a population slightly over 20,000, mixes the quaintness of a tiny village with progressive ideals[1].

The community’s fervent dedication to green initiatives particularly struck me during one of my visits. The municipal government of Marquette actively promotes green initiatives and environmental sustainability programs, demonstrating the citizens’ commitment to addressing climate change[2].

Northern Michigan University, the heartbeat of Marquette, pulses with the energy of its young and liberal student body. This vibrant demographic infuses the city with a fresh, progressive spirit, contributing significantly to its political and cultural leanings.

Talking to people in the area, especially around election times in 2020, showed me a community deeply rooted in Democratic values. It wasn’t just a political statement for them to support Democratic candidates; it was also a reflection of how strongly they believed in fairness, sustainability, and equality.

Key Statistics (US Government Census)

  • Median Age – 32.8 (younger than the national average)
  • Ethnic Minorities – 12.8% (lower than the national average rate)
  • Same sex relationship status – 0.3% (lower than the national average rate)[3]

11. Ypsilanti

As I went around Michigan’s liberal landscapes, Ypsilanti struck out as an icon of multiculturalism and progressive beliefs. This city, often referred to as “Ypsi,” is close to Ann Arbor and has a long history of diversity, education, and activism.

Eastern Michigan University, which is located in the city, is an important source of teachers and students that value liberalism[4]. During my visits, I’ve had the privilege of engaging with some of these bright minds, whose dedication to fostering inclusivity and equality is truly inspiring.

The municipal administration of Ypsi actively supports LGBTQ+ rights, affordable housing, and social justice. The city’s voting history, which has recently favored the Democratic party substantially, highlights its liberal leanings even more[5]. For instance, Ypsilanti overwhelmingly supported the Democratic nominee in the 2020 presidential election, with about 70% of the vote going their way.

Key Statistics (US Government Census)

  • Median Age – 27.9 (younger than the national average)
  • Ethnic Minorities – 38.9% (higher than the national average rate)
  • Same sex relationship status – 1% (higher than the national average rate)[6]

10. Kalamazoo

The next liberal city is Kalamazoo, which is a city in Southwest Michigan. Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College are located in Kalamazoo, which supports a community of young people who are politically engaged[7]

When I went there, I could feel the energy of Kalamazoo’s young people. There is a culture of awareness and participation that is both refreshing and inspiring in this place where education and activism meet.

The city has a reputation for taking a progressive position on a variety of topics, racial equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and affordable housing. In the 2022 midterm elections, the majority of Kalamazoo voters supported progressive politicians and proposals[8].

Key Statistics (US Government Census)

  • Median Age – 28.9 (younger than the national average)
  • Ethnic Minorities – 39.7% (higher than the national average rate)
  • Same sex relationship status – 0.5% (higher than the national average rate)[9]

9. Royal Oak

Royal Oak, which is part of the Detroit metro region, is renowned for its dedication to inclusiveness and diversity. Regardless of religion, race or sexual orientation, all citizens of Royal Oak are guaranteed equal rights according to a comprehensive human rights code that was approved in 2013[10].

As seen in the 2020 presidential election, which saw more of the vote go in favor of the Democratic candidate, this city frequently favors Democratic candidates[20]. This isn’t merely a political preference; it’s a reflection of the community’s broader ideals. 

Each visit to Royal Oak enriches my understanding of what makes a community truly inclusive. It’s a city that not only talks about values like diversity and inclusion but lives them every day. In Royal Oak, the spirit of unity and the commitment to creating a welcoming environment for all are palpable, making it a shining example of suburban progressivism.

Key Statistics (US Government Census)

  • Median Age – 36.7 (younger than the national average)
  • Ethnic Minorities – 14.2% (lower than the national average rate)
  • Same sex relationship status – 0.7% (higher than the national average rate)[11]

8. Lansing

The state’s capital city, Lansing, is politically active and has a propensity towards liberal viewpoints[19]. The young and progressive population of East Lansing is influenced by Michigan State University. The municipal government of Lansing is actively committed to advancing environmental sustainability and social equality.

The city’s extensive climate action plan, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions, is one notable example. Leveraging its strategic plan, Lansing’s government not only aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also ensures these efforts align with broader community values, focusing on affordability and long-term benefits[21].

This is why I can say that Lansing is one of the most liberal cities in Michigan.

Key Statistics (US Government Census)

  • Median Age – 34.3 (younger than the national average)
  • Ethnic Minorities – 45% (higher than the national average rate)
  • Same sex relationship status – 0.6% (higher than the national average rate)[12]

7. East Lansing

East Lansing, the lovely college town nearby Lansing houses the Michigan State University. The city has a clear liberal feel because to its large student population.

I was particularly moved to learn that, back in the 1970s, East Lansing distinguished itself as one of the first municipalities in the United States to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation—a testament to its long-standing commitment to equality and justice[22].

During my visits, it became abundantly clear that the residents of East Lansing continue to champion progressive causes with pride and conviction. Residents here still support Democrats in municipal and federal elections as a sign of their progressive position[23].

Key Statistics (US Government Census)

  • Median Age – 21.8 (younger than the national average)
  • Ethnic Minorities – 28.6% (lower than the national average rate)
  • Same sex relationship status – 0.3% (lower than the national average rate)[13]
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5. Grand Rapids

Given West Michigan’s conservative reputation, a visitor traveling through Michigan would not anticipate coming upon a city such as Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids’ progressive approach to environmental sustainability and social issues defies regional stereotypes[26]. My visit to Grand Rapids showed that the city lives progressive values.

The city administration is committed to affordable housing, equality in society and environmental measures[27]. As a city that cares about both the present and the future, Grand Rapids has also become a lively place for young adults.

Everything I do in Grand Rapids, whether I’m talking to community leaders, residents, or other real estate agents, comes back to the same goal: to create a fair, sustainable, and caring place to live. Finding a progressive oasis in West Michigan has inspired and refreshed me as a realtor.

Key Statistics (US Government Census)

  • Median Age – 31.7 (younger than the national average)
  • Ethnic Minorities – 39.7% (higher than the national average rate)
  • Same sex relationship status – 0.6% (higher than the national average rate)[15]

4. Traverse City

Next on the list of the most liberal cities in Michigan is Traverse City. A treasure in northern Michigan with a sizable liberal population, is well-known for its breathtaking wineries and lake views. My first visit to Traverse City felt like entering a storybook where nature and progressivism coexist.

In both national and municipal elections, the city has regularly backed Democratic politicians. Liberal principles are well-aligned with Traverse City’s dedication to environmental protection and sustainability. 

The city has also actively address social issues in the community. The city’s recent initiatives to tackle homelessness, including efforts to make Safe Harbor a year-round shelter and the approval of 381 inclusive housing units in 2023, showcase its commitment to community welfare alongside environmental protection[28]

As a realtor and a visitor, witnessing Traverse City’s proactive approach to tackling social issues, all while maintaining its environmental commitments, was both inspiring and affirming. This city is a shining example of how communities can flourish by fostering a culture of inclusivity and progressivism amidst the breathtaking beauty of northern Michigan.

Key Statistics (US Government Census)

  • Median Age – 43.6 (older than the national average)
  • Ethnic Minorities – 9.7% (lower than the national average rate)
  • Same sex relationship status – 0.4% (on par with the national average rate)[16]

3. Detroit

The largest city in Michigan, Detroit, has a long history of endorsing Democratic politicians and liberal causes[30]. Despite their financial difficulties, Detroiters continue to have a progressive viewpoint and try for social justice, access to affordable housing, and access to top-notch education. 

One initiative that truly captures the essence of Detroit’s spirit is the “Keep Detroit Clean” program. 

This program, which focuses on community engagement, environmental stewardship, and blight removal, exemplifies a progressive approach to urban management, implying that the city shares liberal values that prioritize sustainability and quality of life improvements[29].

Key Statistics (US Government Census)

  • Median Age – 34.9 (younger than the national average)
  • Ethnic Minorities – 89.3% (higher than the national average rate)
  • Same sex relationship status – 0.3% (lower than the national average rate)[17]

3. Saugatuck

Saugatuck, stands out as a charming small city celebrated for its strong arts culture, LGBTQ+ friendliness, and inclusive atmosphere, making it a beacon of progressivism. Known for its environmental efforts and support for social justice, Saugatuck embodies liberal values, particularly shining in its advocacy for LGBT rights and cultural inclusivity[33]. Its commitment to welcoming a diverse array of visitors and residents underscores its unique identity as a liberal haven.

This vibrant community not only fosters a rich cultural scene but also actively engages in progressive causes. With its scenic beauty and open-minded populace, Saugatuck remains a favorite destination for those seeking a blend of natural charm and progressive ideals.

After visiting Saugatuck, I can confidently say it’s a community that warmly embraces inclusion and progress. As a visitor, it was incredible to witness the strong support for diversity and open-mindedness here. It’s no surprise that Saugatuck has become a well-known destination for tourists in recent years.

Key Statistics (US Government Census)

  • Median Age – 56.9 (older than the national average)
  • Ethnic Minorities – 6.8% (lower than the national average rate)
  • Same sex relationship status – 2.6% (higher than the national average rate)[32]

2. Ferndale

A suburb of Detroit in the north, Ferndale is a shining example of liberal principles. Ferndale has long been an epicenter of progressive politics in Michigan, known for its welcoming community and LGBTQ+-friendly regulations. 

Starting from its early history in the 20th century and growing with the arrival of queer people in the 1980s, this place has become an important suburban area for the queer community. It’s known for being welcoming and valuing diversity, showing how society is changing to be more inclusive[24].

I was impressed with Ferndale’s Black History Month because the city really showed its support for the Black community. They even celebrated their first Black Mayor, Raylon Leaks-May. It was clear that Ferndale values diversity and inclusivity, by supporting Black businesses and honoring leaders, showing it’s a progressive place[25].

The municipal administration of the city is very engaged in advancing social fairness, environmentally sustainable living, and affordable housing.

Key Statistics (US Government Census)

  • Median Age – 35.4 (younger than the national average)
  • Ethnic Minorities – 17% (lower than the national average rate)
  • Same sex relationship status – 1.8% (higher than the national average rate)[14]

1. Ann Arbor

One of the state’s most forward-thinking communities is Ann Arbor, which serves as the campus for the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor actively promotes liberal ideas due to its sizable student population and diversified culture. The city has been a leader on topics including LGBTQ+ rights, social fairness, and climate change.

Ann Arbor’s ambitious A2ZERO Climate Action Plan, aiming for community-wide carbon neutrality by 2030, reflects a strong commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship, which are often associated with progressive and liberal values. This focus on a just and sustainable transition underlines the city’s alignment with progressive ideals, suggesting Ann Arbor could indeed be considered among the more liberal cities in Michigan[31].

What truly sets Ann Arbor apart, in my view, as the most liberal city in Michigan is because of its size, the big university there that encourages progressive thinking, and its many policies and initiatives that match liberal values. Its impact is seen in areas like politics, education, and environmental efforts, all adding to its liberal image.

Key Statistics (US Government Census)

  • Median Age – 27.9 (younger than the national average)
  • Ethnic Minorities – 32.4% (lower than the national average rate)
  • Same sex relationship status – 0.5% (higher than the national average rate)[18]


My journey through Michigan, from its lively cities to the peaceful Great Lakes shores, showed me communities living progressive values every day. These places, rich in culture and inclusivity, reflect Michigan’s innovative spirit.

As a realtor, seeing these ideals in action was truly uplifting. Michigan’s liberal cities are not just about homes; they’re about creating spaces where people can connect and grow in an environment that values social justice, sustainability, and inclusivity. Looking ahead, I’m optimistic about these communities leading the way to a better future for everyone.

Reference List

1 – https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/marquette-mi-population

2 – https://bria2.maps.arcgis.com/sharing/rest/content/items/273743ac42ab4576a88b97069cab25a3/data

3 – https://data.census.gov/table/DECENNIALDP2020.DP1?q=United%20States&t=Same%20Sex%20Couples&g=160XX00US2651900

4 – https://www.niche.com/colleges/eastern-michigan-university/students/

5 – https://electionarchive.washtenaw.org/eng/contests/view/1977

6 – https://data.census.gov/table/DECENNIALDP2020.DP1?q=United%20States&t=Same%20Sex%20Couples&g=160XX00US2689140

7 – https://www.niche.com/colleges/kalamazoo-college/students/

8 – https://www.kalcounty.com/clerk/elections_voting/elections/results.php?election=2023-11-07

9 – https://data.census.gov/table/DECENNIALDP2020.DP1?q=United%20States&t=Same%20Sex%20Couples&g=160XX00US2642160

10 – https://ecode360.com/27075772

11 – https://data.census.gov/table/DECENNIALDP2020.DP1?q=United%20States&t=Same%20Sex%20Couples&g=160XX00US2670040

12 – https://data.census.gov/table/DECENNIALDP2020.DP1?q=United%20States&t=Same%20Sex%20Couples&g=160XX00US2646000

13 – https://data.census.gov/table/DECENNIALDP2020.DP1?q=United%20States&t=Same%20Sex%20Couples&g=160XX00US2624120

14 – https://data.census.gov/table/DECENNIALDP2020.DP1?q=United%20States&t=Same%20Sex%20Couples&g=160XX00US2627880

15 – https://data.census.gov/table/DECENNIALDP2020.DP1?q=United%20States&t=Same%20Sex%20Couples&g=160XX00US2634000

16 – https://data.census.gov/table/DECENNIALDP2020.DP1?q=United%20States&t=Same%20Sex%20Couples&g=160XX00US2680340

17 – https://data.census.gov/table/DECENNIALDP2020.DP1?q=United%20States&t=Same%20Sex%20Couples&g=160XX00US2622000

18 – https://data.census.gov/table/DECENNIALDP2020.DP1?q=United%20States&t=Same%20Sex%20Couples&g=160XX00US2603000

19 – https://www.bestplaces.net/voting/city/michigan/lansing

20 – https://www.bestplaces.net/voting/city/michigan/royal_oak

21 – https://content.civicplus.com/api/assets/499d0c86-13a8-46bf-a47a-21d5d0751626

22 – https://www.wkar.org/newsroom/2012-03-06/east-lansing-marks-40th-anniversary-of-gay-rights-ordinance

23 – https://www.bestplaces.net/voting/city/michigan/east_lansing

24 – https://pridesource.com/article/the-city-without-closets-how-ferndale-became-so-queer

25 – https://www.ferndalemi.gov/news/black-history-month-2024

26 – https://www.grandrapidsmi.gov/Government/Departments/Sustainability

27 – https://www.grandrapidsmi.gov/Government/Programs-and-Initiatives/Housing-NOW

28 – https://www.traversecitymi.gov/news/community-update-on-initiatives-addressing-homelessness.html

29 – https://detroitmi.gov/departments/general-services-department/keep-detroit-clean

30 – https://www.bestplaces.net/voting/city/michigan/detroit

31 – https://www.a2gov.org/departments/sustainability/Pages/default.aspx

32 – https://data.census.gov/table/DECENNIALDP2020.DP1?q=United%20States&t=Same%20Sex%20Couples&g=160XX00US26717003

33 – https://www.queerty.com/make-the-midwest-gay-again-saugatuck-is-a-small-town-with-big-pride-20230923

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