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At the City Level, Progressives Flex New Power

The “blue wave” didn’t materialize at the national level. But in America’s cities, younger Democratic leaders and progressive policy ideas scored several big wins. 

Matthew Gaston, 37, of Los Angeles, campaigns for LA City Council candidate Nithya Raman on Nov. 3. She’s part of a surge of progressive candidates that have emerged from urban centers. 

Matthew Gaston, 37, of Los Angeles, campaigns for LA City Council candidate Nithya Raman on Nov. 3. She’s part of a surge of progressive candidates that have emerged from urban centers. 

Photographer: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

As a nail-biter U.S. election creeps to its resolution — and tallies in urban areas decide key battleground states — a few things are clear. While the ideological cleavage between urban and rural parts of the country continues to grow, progressive candidates at the local level had a strong showing on Tuesday. There’s a “dramatic progressive turn” taking place on the local level, says Richard Schragger, a University of Virginia professor and author of City Power: Urban Governance in a Global Age.

The 2020 results, so far, shows that trend will continue, even if it doesn’t trickle up into control of state legislatures or executive leadership. Schragger sees the range of policy that prevailed at the polls, from housing and transit to new ideas for land use and economic development, broadening significantly in cities of all sizes.