April 28, 2016
Politicians often like to talk about "real America." Unlike those stuck-up elitists living in their left-coast cities, the folks in real America hold real American values that establishment politicians will just never understand. Values like fishing, and pick-up trucks, and guns, and taking your gun with you when you drive your pick-up truck to the log cabin you built behind the fish pond.
But which cities really represent Real America? FiveThirtyEight dug into the demographic data and discovered that the Philadelphia area ranks as the ninth-most "normal" metropolitan area in America.
(I guess no one told them about the Mummers Parade.)
FiveThirtyEight defined a city as "normal" if it was demographically similar to the country. A metropolitan area would get a score of 100 if it was demographically identical to the United States in terms of age, education, race and ethnicity.
The website chose those demographics because they stay the same no matter where you move, unlike jobs and income. It also only looked at metropolitan areas with a population of at least 500,000 people.
The Philadelphia/Camden/Wilmington area got a score of 87.2 out of 100, meaning that its demographics are extremely close to the U.S. average.
The top three most "normal" metropolitan areas in the U.S. were New Haven, Connecticut; Tampa, Florida, and Hartford, Connecticut.
Other metropolitan areas look more like the America of the past. FiveThirtyEight conducted the same analysis, but this time based on the demographics of America in 1950.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, ranked as the second-most "1950s" metropolitan area in America, with a score of 55.2 out of 100. Only Ogden, Utah, looks more like a city from the 50s than Lancaster.
But, of course, 55.2 is still not a particularly high score of similarity. It goes to show that no big city really looks like it did in the 1950s — and that politicians who don't think cities like Philadelphia are "real America" are stuck in the past.