Chris Tausanovitch and Christopher Warshaw, political science professors at UCLA and MIT, authored the study. In researching, the pair examined the average policy preferences of residents in the 51 U.S. cities with populations over 250,000. They compared them to the policies of those cities to see if political leanings were reflected in taxes and other city operations.
The professors wrote:
The policies enacted by cities across a range of policy areas correspond with the liberal-conservative positions of their citizens on national policy issues.
Two other cities in Arizona, Phoenix and Tucson, were on the list, as well. While both showed up as slightly liberal leaning, Phoenix was barely left of center and Tucson was several spots further left.
The study also took into account other outside variables, such as term limits and the mayorship, but the researchers found that those institutions did little to change the majority public opinion in local settings.
The study suggested:
These results demonstrate a robust role for citizen policy preferences in determining municipal policy outcomes
The results showed only 11 cities were found to be conservative leaning, two were neutral, and the rest were liberal. Mesa, a Phoenix-area suburb with a population of about 468,000, easily landed the top spot for most conservative city in the country. Oklahoma City and Virginia Beach, Va., followed as the next most right leaning.
San Francisco, on the other hand,proved to be the most liberal, as expected.