Most Liberal Cities in the USA of 2023
The US has a very divided outlook on politics, and the debate between Democrats and Republicans isn’t a new one. Although people do not often select their city due to the area’s political ideology, it has become increasingly common in recent years. More and more people do not want to live in a conservative city; their views are usually considered old-fashioned.
With this in mind, cities with a more liberal stance are more suitable for those seeking acceptance of different lifestyles, not just politically, but culturally and socially. This list presents 16 of the most liberal cities in the US as of 2023, taking into account current residents’ voting patterns and beliefs to ensure people make well-informed decisions before relocating.
16. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Although Pennsylvania is considered to be a more conservative state, its largest city, Philadelphia, is one of the most diverse in the US. The city has an estimated population of 1.5 million, which includes an approximate split of black (40.8%) and white (38.5%) citizens, as well as fairly large Asian and Hispanic communities.
The city is very liberal; in the last Presidential election, over 80% of residents voted Democrat, which typically backs abortion rights. Support for the Democratic party has continued, with Democrat Dan McCaffery winning an open seat on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court in November 2023, a win that displays Philadelphia’s progressiveness.
Furthermore, in November 2023, the City of Brotherly Love elected its first female mayor, Democrat Cherelle Parker, who promised to make Philly a “safer, cleaner, greener city.” Yet, Parker’s stance on crime and public safety might take the city in a more conservative direction when her term begins in January 2024.
15. St Louis, Missouri
Since 2000, most people who live in the city of St. Louis have voted for Democratic candidates. This is in contrast to Missouri, which has supported Republicans in Presidential elections from 2000 onward. To further the city’s liberal stance, it hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1949.
St. Louis received a score of 100, which is the highest ranking available, under the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index in 2022; this was the 11th year the city achieved a perfect score. This index looks at how inclusive a city is for the LGBTQ+ community, including municipal laws, policies, and services.
14. Austin, Texas
Due to Texas being a traditionally conservative state, it might be a surprise that the city of Austin has a liberal political climate. Governor Rick Perry once called it “the blueberry in the tomato soup.” The city has become well-known for its art community, music scene, and growing tech industry; the tech epicenter of Texas is known as Silicon Hills, with companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, and many more establishing headquarters in the city.
Not only known for tech, Austin also has education at its heart. The University of Texas resides in the city, and almost 45% of residents in the area aged 25+ have a bachelor’s degree. There are also numerous options to choose from for elementary and secondary schools.
13. St Paul, Minnesota
Minnesota leans Democratic, and the state capital, St. Paul, follows this stance. The Twin Cities, made up of St. Paul and Minneapolis, are both considered socially and politically liberal, the latter city more so; in this list, Minneapolis has been awarded the sixth most liberal city in the US.
One such issue that proves this is the city’s policy on rent control and affordable housing. Approved in 2021, the Residential Rent Stabilization Ordinance ensures monthly rent is limited to only a 3% increase each year.
12. Portland, Oregon
Similar to other cities on the West Coast, Portland often takes a Democratic stance in politics. To some, it represents hyper-liberalism in America. It was once a segregated city, as Oregon had exclusion laws in place, and some believe its liberal position is an effort to undo this. The city has now attracted people and businesses specializing in bakeries, cafes, craft beer, restaurants, and the like.
Portland has experienced issues in policing previously, and the latest overhaul may see the Independent Police Review change. An oversight board will investigate and disciple officers for police misconduct; if approved, this will be a completely new procedure for the city. The issue of police accountability has been a concern for the public in recent years, especially after the murder of George Floyd.
The city’s liberalism has been blamed for the current homelessness and drug crisis, however. In 2020, Portland became the first US city to decriminalize personal possession of hard drugs.
11. Chicago, Illinois
The summer of 2023 showed Chicago, as well as the state of Illinois, to be progressive. Despite the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, Illinois’ governor, JB Pritzker, announced grants worth a total of $23 million to abortion clinics that have experienced a rise in demand from neighboring states where abortion is banned. Chicago benefits from the state’s Reproductive Health Act, one of the United State’s most liberal abortion laws.
Chicago’s population with a college degree has increased, making the city more educated than the suburbs. This was supported by research that showed those moving into Illinois were better educated and more likely to arrive for college. And, as The New York Times reported, “college graduates have been far likelier than voters without a college degree to self-identify as liberal.”
10. Baltimore, Maryland
Close to Washington, Baltimore residents are relatively liberal. In 2020, the city voted in its youngest mayor, Democrat Brandon Scott, who campaigned on progressive ideas, such as racial equity. In Baltimore, more than 50% of residents are black.
Several policies and laws in the city have been deemed progressive. In 2023, Northeast Baltimore City Council members produced two bills that would tackle the area’s housing shortage: one would target the restrictions on multifamily housing, and the other would increase the number of affordable housing units. The pieces of legislation endeavor to increase housing without causing displacement.
9. Buffalo, New York
Like other upstate New York cities, Buffalo is Democratic; the city last had a Republican mayor in the 1960s. Citizens have redefined the city with liberal ideologies. An example of this would be the protests for better policing and stricter gun laws after the May 2022 shooting; the March for Our Lives protests took place in Buffalo and across the US.
Buffalo’s progressive stance isn’t new; a look at the city’s history shows it was a “trailblazer of the early gay rights movement.” The city continues to celebrate Pride annually with a festival, parade, and several other events.
8. New York City, New York
Slightly more progressive than Buffalo is another city in New York, New York City. As it consists of five boroughs, the city has a lot of personality and mostly liberal views. In fact, over 50% of adults in New York City lean Democrat in terms of party affiliation, as shown here. It is the most linguistically diverse city in the world, with over 800 languages spoken.
Out of the five boroughs, only Richmond County – better known as Staten Island – voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 Presidential election. It is, therefore, unsurprising that New York takes a more liberal stance on key issues, such as gun control and abortion.
For more on the liberal cities in the state of New York, click here.
7. Detroit, Michigan
Despite having more Republican voters than neighboring cities, Detroit is considered to be a Democratic stronghold. Voters here have progressive views, with affordable housing, education, and social justice being priorities for residents. A seven-step plan to protect Detroit citizens from rising rent and address housing insecurity was unveiled in 2022.
6. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis is the more liberal half of Minnesota’s Twin Cities. In November 2022, the state of Minnesota was won by Democrats, although only 321 votes secured this state as a “blue.” This was followed by a lot of changes in the first half of 2023: preserving abortion rights, reinstating voting rights for ex-felons, requiring background checks on private gun transfers, and many more policies were put into place.
Although Minneapolis had previously implemented the 4d Affordable Housing Incentive Fund, a further $1 billion was invested into affordable housing. With homes being easier to afford, Minneapolis has been named one of Minnesota’s best places to live.
5. Boston, Massachusetts
With Massachusetts hosting the most liberals of any state in the US, it isn’t surprising that Boston swings liberal. Residents tend to vote for Democrats in both the local and Presidential elections; in fact, votes for Joe Biden stood at 82.6% in the 2020 Presidential election.
The state of Massachusetts was the first to legalize gay marriage in 2003, earning itself the reputation of a progressive state. This decision was made in the case of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, where it was ruled that “barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution” by the Supreme Judicial Court.
Boston, which has one of the biggest LGBTQ+ populations on the East Coast, continues to celebrate this diversity with festivals, parades, and other events during Boston Pride. There have even been reports of an LGBTQ+ art and history museum coming to the city.
4. Oakland, California
Many of Oakland residents, of which there are over 420,000, have embraced the liberal identity. This is unsurprising as the city is part of the Bay Area, especially as San Francisco also appears on this list. A report by the Public Policy Institute of California stated that, overall, California was quite liberal, with even conservative Democrats becoming rarer.
Oakland has several liberal policies, including education, environmentalism, housing, gun control, immigration reform, and worker’s rights. City officials even declared racism as a public health crisis in 2022; there are plans to achieve equity in city planning, laws, and other aspects.
3. Seattle, Washington
Seattle has seen an increase in people moving into the area recently, and it is believed these new arrivals are more liberal than the residents already in the city. This could be because people are more likely to move to areas already aligned with their political beliefs. Blue areas have been getting bluer, with more liberals moving where their thoughts on politics are agreed with.
Since 2004, the citizens of Seattle have been loyal to the Democrats. In terms of party affiliation, 82% of adults in the city identify themselves as liberal. This can be supported by the policies in place in Seattle and the greater state of Washington, which are related to the more progressive stance, such as abortion rights, LGBTQ+, etc. For example, abortion is legal in Seattle, WA, and has been since 1970; this did not change after Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022.
Other initiatives Seattle has supported include workers’ rights, with the city being one of the first to decide on $15 per hour as a minimum wage, environmental issues, and public safety.
2. Washington, D.C.
The capital city of the US, Washington, D.C., is certainly the home of American politics. Historically, it has been a liberal city, voting for the Democratic party in Presidential elections since 1964. No Republican has ever won an electoral vote here.
Culturally, Washington is also liberal and progressive, despite being the country’s capital. In 2012, Washington State was one of the first to legalize adult-use cannabis; this also regulated and taxed the production and distribution of cannabis. The state had previously legalized medicinal cannabis in 1998.
Washington, D.C., also protects people’s LGBT rights. Equaldex ranks the state of Washington as number 11 in the “equality rank,” just behind Maine and New Jersey; this rank looks at legal rights as well as public opinion and calculates an equality index, on which Washington scored 83 out of 100.
1. San Francisco, California – The Most Liberal City in the United States of America
The USA’s most liberal city is San Francisco, which has a colorful history of social activism and liberal politics. In 2020, 85.3% of residents voted for Joe Biden in the Presidential election, which was the third highest of counties with more than 750,000 citizens.
The city’s progressiveness has helped the development of several liberal policies. The San Francisco Rent Ordinance, for example, offers most tenants eviction protection and rent control, ensuring that landlords can only increase the rent by a specific percentage annually. SF.gov states, “The allowed rent increase percentage for 2023 to February 29, 2024 is 3.6%.”
There are also several initiatives going ahead related to clean energy, which the city’s mayor, London Breed, is passionate about. One environmental initiative announced in 2019 was the expansion of bike lanes in the city to create 20 additional miles of protected lanes for cyclists.
Although there are many more liberal cities in America, the 16 included in this list have become known as the most progressive. Not only do these cities support the left ideology politically, but their liberal beliefs are also demonstrated in their cultures.