Election 2016

Could the Presidential Election Be a Brooklyn-Queens Showdown?

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, both raised in the outer boroughs, have double digit leads in the polls.

Collage by Alexandra Rosenmann Images from Shutterstock: 52208935 342185000 322465685
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

If there's one thing America can agree on, it's that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump would make a very interesting matchup this November. Since announcing their candidacies, both Sanders and Trump have built up almost cult-like followings. The Republican and Democratic candidates are on opposite ends of the spectrum, politically and economically divergent — and so is their home turf of New York City, one of the most unequal cities in the country. The candidates' old neighborhoods exemplify this phenomenon. Bernie Sanders grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, which remains a working-class neighborhood today. Nearly a quarter of the residents fall below the poverty level.

Donald Trump's childhood home is located in the wealthy neighborhood of Jamaica Estates, Queens, where the average two-bedroom home costs over $1 million. 

The longstanding, implicit rivalry between the boroughs is largely due to Queens being more spread out and less densely populated than Brooklyn. Queens is also slightly more Republican, though the county has not voted for a Republican candidate in a presidential election since 1972, when voters chose Richard Nixon over George McGovern. However, Queens is considered a swing county in local politics. 

The wealth disparity within Queens is quite pronounced as well. Queensbridge Houses, also located in Queens, is the largest public housing development in North America. Queensbridge is the "bridge" referenced in what is perhaps the greatest diss song of all time, "The Bridge Is Over," performed by KRS-One in 1987: "Manhattan keeps on making it, Brooklyn keeps on taking it/ Bronx keeps creating it, and Queens keeps on faking it."

The longest standing myth among New Yorkers is that all great New York culture originates on the island. But at least in this election — the politics of the nation are from children of its outer boroughs.


Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.

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