San Francisco, CA and Jacksonville, FL are both situated along the US Coastline and both have populations of nearly 900,000 people. That is where the similarities stop and the drastic differences in functionality start, however.
Led by Mayor London Breed, a Democrat, San Francisco fancies itself as a hyper-liberal utopia with all of the social justice bells and whistles that accompany the modern-day virtue signaling of America’s democrats. Antithetically, led by Republican Mayor Lenny Curry, Jacksonville holds dear to its southern roots even as America’s largest city (by geographical land area) embraces the strength in modern-day diversity.
Cities are largely a function of historical leadership. Over the past 25 years, Jacksonville has been predominantly led by Republicans (21 of the past 25 years), while San Francisco has been exclusively run by Democrats in that same time period. Two decades is certainly enough time for policy decisions to take root and become the mainstream measurement for cause & effect politics. So, how do these two cities of the same size with the same relative amenities match up? I outline five key performance indicators below.
San Francisco’s overall crime rate is just over 500 incidents per 100,000 residents, which places the city’s crime rate higher than 95.9% of all cities in America. By contrast, the overall crime rate in Jacksonville is just over 370 incidents per 100,000 people. This means that residents in Jacksonville are more than 25% less likely to become a victim of crime than residents in San Francisco. Both cities employ nearly the same number of sworn officers, with San Francisco at 2,108 sworn officers and Jacksonville at 2,082 sworn officers.
While violent crime is relatively high in both cities (388 per 100k in SF versus 364 per 100k in Jx), the trend is what’s telling. Over the past 15 years, violent crime in San Francisco has increased by nearly 10% while violent crime in Jacksonville has decreased by more than 30%. This is an astounding reversal in trends that favors the residents of Republican-led Jacksonville.
Property crimes follow much the same trend, with San Francisco getting worse while Jacksonville gets better. Much of this can likely be attributed to repeat offenders and the evolution of career criminals who aren’t held accountable by the courts. San Francisco has consistently ranked at the bottom or very near the bottom of all cities in California as it pertains to the conviction rate of charged felons.
Environmental consciousness is certainly a cornerstone of the Democratic Party, but here again San Francisco is the exception to their own rules. The city ranks worse than the US average in Air Quality Index, Carbon Monoxide emissions, Nitrogen Dioxide, Particulate Matter, and Lead levels. Jacksonville scores substantially lower than San Francisco in all of these categories except for carbon monoxide, and ranks below the national average in almost all but the same category.
Air Quality Index (AQI) is a measurement used by government agencies to communicate to the public how compromised air quality is in a particular environment over a period of time. The National Average is 74. Jacksonville averages a score of 77, about 4% higher. San Francisco averages a score of 104, more than 40% higher than the national average.
A 2018 article by Business Insider ranked San Francisco 10th on the list of the 25 most dangerously polluted cities in the United States. The American Lung Association ranks San Francisco the 6th most year-round polluted city in America.
Jacksonville did not make either list.
High school attrition is another area where the city led by Democrats negatively eclipses the city historically led by Republicans. While having a slightly higher graduation rate, San Francisco has a shockingly high rate of attrition.
The average dropout rate of high school students enrolled in the two biggest districts of San Francisco is more than 14%. The attrition rate for students enrolled in public high schools in Jacksonville is just over 4%. Students in the San Francisco Unified School District are more than 3 times more likely to drop out of school than their peers in the Jacksonville School District.
While California has one the highest combined rates of State & Local tax, they are spending less per pupil than Florida and 37 other US States. Both districts spend relatively the same amount, both well below the national average, but with greatly varying results when compared.
How can a district with an abundance of financial resources be outspent by districts with more limited resources and also fail to produce? Both districts spend only a shockingly low 2.7% of their total taxable resources on pupils, but with nearly identical enrollment and SFUSD having a much bigger purse to pull from. All things equal, the difference is found in execution. Once again, Democrats fail to lead.
Perhaps more than any other talking point, diversity is at the core of the Democrats’ self-professed agenda. So is it the high cost of living, the outrageous crime rate, or the lack of dedication to schools that keeps minorities out of San Francisco? The population of SF is only 20% Hispanic or African American, compared to the population of Jacksonville that is more than 40% Hispanic or African American. Jacksonville maintains double the diversity in population as it pertains to these groups of minorities.
Gender is another area the Democrats claim to champion, but do they truly foster the ideals and environments that welcome and empower women? In San Francisco there are 102 men for every 100 women, whereas in Jacksonville there are 106 women for every 100 men. Furthermore, the GINI Coefficient which is used to measure income inequality ranks San Francisco higher than the national average while Jacksonville is below the national average, meaning that there is a greater disparity in wage distribution in San Francisco than in Jacksonville, or across the United States on average. Women in San Francisco are much worse off than their mothers, sisters, and aunts in Jacksonville when it comes to opportunities and compensation.
The Democrats often scream about income inequality, but when it comes down to it they fail to produce even where they drive their own policies. In fact, as I wrote earlier this year their entire narrative is displaced. Over the past 40 years, the wage gap has seen the most closure under Republican leadership.
Quality of Life
The Quality of Life Index is a measurement used to attempt to summarize a city’s ability to provide the best opportunities for a healthy, safe, and prosperous period of time ahead. The QLI takes into account things like economic stability, life expectancy, crime, healthcare accessibility, climate, local governance, the cost of living, and much more.
Considering all metrics, Jacksonville maintains a cumulative QLI of 180.63 compared to San Francisco’s QLI of 173.32. The cost of living in San Francisco is more than 20% higher than Jacksonville, and the ratio of property price to income is more than 72% higher in San Francisco.
While unsurprising, the financial anomalies aren’t the only ones. Jacksonville ranks more favorably as a place to live relative to the time-to-commute as well as the pollution index. Jacksonville also ranks significantly higher than San Francisco in Healthcare Index, which considers the skill and available resources of healthcare providers as well as diagnostic accuracy, technology, and the convenience & affordability of treatment.
The list of differences between these two cities could go on and certainly there are areas where San Francisco fares slightly better (purchasing power and climate stability, for example), but the five areas above are among the top areas Democrats consider their “bread & butter.” They should be succeeding, even far ahead of the curve in a city they have led for more than 50 years. But they are not. Even in cornerstone movements like the environment and healthcare, they are lagging behind the results-driven policies in a city led by a Republican.
The comparison of these two cities is only one example. Similar comparisons can be made between other cities of similar size and dynamics but led by antithetical policies.
Two cities with nearly identical populations, situated in nearly identical geographical environments, but with two very different leadership philosophies and very different results. In an environment historically led by their own policies, cities run by Democrats consistently fall into the shadows of cities more successfully run by Republicans.