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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The rural-urban divide is the defining split in American elections, and that often disadvantages cities, even though they have more voters.
Why it matters: With Democrats clustered in cities and Republicans spread out among exurbs, suburbs are now critical battlegrounds. For example, Democrats swept Virginia's elections Tuesday night thanks in part to suburban voters.
The big picture: "American elections have come to be seen as high-stakes sectional battles pitting the interests and identities of cities and inner suburbs against those of exurbs and the rural periphery," Stanford political scientist Jonathan Rodden writes in his book "Why Cities Lose."
Where it stands: Democrats overwhelmingly take majorities in city centers and inner suburbs, while Republicans' vote share increases as you move to the middle-ring suburbs, becoming more prevalent in distant exurbs and rural areas.
Urban-rural polarization has, in many states, allowed Republicans to win more seats than their share of the votes — and that could be the case even without gerrymandering due to demographic patterns and voter behavior, Rodden writes.
What's next: Fast-growing Sunbelt cities, like Orlando and Houston, are more politically diverse.
The bottom line: Winning in cities isn't enough for Democrats, and winning in exurbs isn't enough for Republicans.
Go deeper: Where politics meets geography
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser
Four of the world's richest companies are pouring a collective $5 billion into housing on the West Coast, raising an expectation that companies will serve as part financier, part philanthropist as tech hubs try to add more supply to incredibly tight housing markets.
Driving the news: Apple this week pledged $2.5 billion to housing initiatives in Silicon Valley, where even high-paid tech workers — let alone teachers, nurses and police officers — are struggling to find houses they can afford.
The big picture: Other tech companies have announced efforts over the past year to alleviate the housing crisis around their headquarters.
Local leaders praised the investments, and housing experts say corporate investments and philanthropy will play a bigger role in addressing the housing crunch going forward.
Yes, but: Some of the biggest factors driving up housing costs are out of tech companies' control.
In California, single-family zoning and opposition to denser development have been huge drivers of skyrocketing prices. In Apple's hometown of Cupertino, a battle has raged for three years over plans to rezone a defunct mall property for housing.
"There’s no question that our local communities need to do more, and particularly the small suburban towns that have been quite welcoming to multibillion-dollar tech campus but are willing to build walls when it comes to more housing development,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, noting that Cupertino didn’t add any housing units while Apple’s $3.6 billion headquarters was being built.
The bottom line: "Local communities have to be much more positive about approving housing construction. The biggest problem over the past 30 years has been the shortage of housing, especially rental housing," said Ken Rosen, chairman of the Berkeley Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Teachers would have to spend nearly 50% of their paycheck to afford the median price of rent in the U.S. — $1,483 per month — leaving little room for other expenses, according to data from Zillow.
What's happening: Experiments in new financing models and dedicated teacher housing are cropping up in some cities with high housing prices, Axios' Marisa Fernandez reports.
In higher education, Stanford University has been leasing homes to its faculty at prices below market rates, KQED reports.
The bottom line: Even with pay increases, many teachers will still struggle to afford homes in the most expensive cities. The typical new homeowner in California’s largest metro areas must earn many times that of a local teacher’s salary, a Brookings Institution analysis shows.
Rising sea levels will threaten 40 million more people — three times that of previous estimates — over the next 30 years, new research says. Poorer Asian countries are most at risk, Axios' Amy Harder reports.
Why it matters: We’re learning more about how much of the damage is irreversible, like with rising sea levels — which means we need to think about not just stopping the problem, but also about adapting to the parts we can't stop.
What to watch: Strauss hopes that this research galvanizes cities to better prepare for rising seas that are inevitably coming, but also momentum to cut emissions to limit the worst impacts by the end of this century.
Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images
Veterans face underemployment in several major cities (Axios)
NTSB recommends mandatory helmet laws, protected bike lanes (Smart Cities Dive)
Who owns Silicon Valley? (Mercury News)
America's largest health insurer is giving apartments to homeless people (Bloomberg)
Municipal bonds are on pace for a record year (Axios)
You've probably seen the dramatic photos of a Port Authority bus stuck in a sinkhole in downtown Pittsburgh. Now the moment is being remembered with its own donut by a local bakery.
The hole is about 20 feet deep and 75 feet wide, likely forcing the road to be closed for about eight weeks, officials said.
Have a great week!