The second most liberal city isn’t New York, famed for its war on Big Soda. It isn’t Chicago, where President Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is mayor. And it isn’t Seattle, where they are gradually hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

No, the second most liberal city in the United States is … Washington, D.C.

That’s according to an article to be published in the American Political Science Review. And that’s troubling because it suggests that U.S. senators and House members are spending much of their time in a liberal metropolis, which may not be at all close to the political make-up of the actual state or district they’re representing.

Sure, there are plenty of conservatives in D.C. (see the eight-story Heritage building practically kitty corner from the Capitol). But there’s no doubt that in D.C., and in much of the Maryland and Virginia neighborhoods near Washington, you’re not going to win any popularity awards for staunch conservatism.

So why do so many politicians sell out when they come to D.C.? The answer just might be peer pressure. After all, unless you’re Nancy Pelosi, who represents San Francisco (which is the most liberal city in America), you’re going to be right of the city you now spend much of your time in.



(Chart by The Economist.)