I grew up in Long Island, NY which at the time was probably the most conservative place of any significant size in America. I still have roots there to this day and while Queens is technically Long Island (as is Brooklyn), Long Island is more commonly perceived to be Nassau County and Suffolk County. Long Island is slightly more liberal than conservative today but there was a time where it was the conservative cesspool capital of America. Ronald Reagan got almost 80% of the vote on Long Island in 1984, his highest percentage of any area of size in the entire country, more so than any Southern state.
To understand Long Island, you must understand its roots. Prior to WW II it was a rural area but then became the first major suburb with the building of the Levitt houses. In the late 40s and early 50s there was a mass exodus from cities to burbs but it was all about race. If you were black, Asian, or Hispanic, you were not allowed to buy a Levitt home. Most people who initially came to Long Island came because they didn't want to be around minorities.
Thus many of the people who came to Long Island in the forties, fifties, and sixties were pure trash, the bottom of the human barrel. And since apples usually don't fall far from trees, many of the children who grew up on Long Island also became the bottom of the barrel. Prominent right wing nutcases like Al D'Amato, Peter King, Bill O'Reilly, Richard Bond, and Handy Hannity are all products of this conservative cesspool.
To simplify what Long Island is like, you have to imagine the 3 worst kinds of conservative stereotypes that I have come up with. Forgive me for my oversimplifications for I am fully aware that I am overstating and overgeneralizing. (
First, there's the Alabama Conservative. The Alabama Conservative is a violent, racist, bigoted prick with neo nazis leanings. He's poor, low class, and just plain trash. This kind of conservative thinks it's okay to burn crosses, smash mailboxes, be part of a lynch mob, and be violent to those deemed as "liberal" or "faggots." Long Island has many of these dirtbags. Cross burnings, anti-Semitic graffiti, violence, and yes even the burning of houses because its occupants were black has happened multiple times on Long Island in the past few years. Synagogues get vandalized, Hispanics perceived as day laborers are attacked, and African Americans are still targeted for violence merely because of their skin color. Long Island has tons of crimes and most of it goes unreported.
Second, you have the Cobb County Conservative (Georgia). The Cobb County Conservative is the Get Off My Lawn Conservative. He or she tends to be middle class but wants govt to provide services for him and him only while he hides out in some gated community or isolated suburb. Imagine the next door neighbor in the movie American Beauty. The Cobb County Conservative is one screw away from pulling a Eric Rupert Murdoch or Timothy McVeigh but doesn't do so because he doesn't want to lose his middle class way of life. The CCC is paranoid about minorities. His life is mostly going to work, coming home to the suburb, locking the doors, and hiding in his home. His social skills tend to be pathetic. He's an utter hypocrite and totally void of conscience and humanity. Think Newt Gingrich.
Third, you have the Orange County Conservative (California). This used to be Bob Dornan territory. The Orange County Conservative is upscale economically but is totally classless in terms of values despite being mostly well educated. He and she tend to be racist and xenophobic except when they need a babysitter or someone to mow the lawn. They tend to be dysfunctional, highly shallow, overly materialistic, and grow up in those stereotypical loveless homes where what kind of car you drive or whose basement is being remodeled is far more important than the joys and challenges of life. Think Valley Girls and Fraternity bullies living off daddy's trust fund. If you ever went to college with people from Long Island, there's a strong chance you like know like you know oh my god like you know like didn't like you know like like the person or felt you know like pity for them.
Now, take my stereotypes and overgeneralizations of the Alabama, Cobb County, and Orange County conservatives and mold them into one person. What you end up with in many instances is the Long Island Conservative, perhaps the most disgusting creature ever to walk the face of America.
I often say that there isn't a place in America that can't be liberalized and that every place in America could be more liberal than conservative.
Long Island, in 25 years, moved from very conservative to slightly more liberal than conservative. While it is still home to some very deranged and very conservative people, Long Island is definitely nowhere near as conservative as it used to be.
The deconservatization of Long Island occurred because enough people finally had enough and had the courage to speak truth to power. Long Island was run by right wing Republicans for decades and they made Tammany Hall look like a modicum of ethical virtue.
There is still plenty of right wing garbage all throughout Long Island. There are still race based violence, xenophobic hate crimes, rapes, assaults against women, anti-Semitic attacks, property crimes, and other loathsomes behaviors initiated primarily by the right wing pieces of excrement that still inhabit substantial parts of Long Island.
The lessons of Long Island are that conservatism can be defeated anywhere but only if people will speak truth to power and do so fearlessly. There was no place in America more conservative than Long Island a generation or two ago and now Long Island has been mostly deconservatized. And if Long Island can be deconservatized, then every county in every state can be deconservatized as well.