What noun could I use? "Hotbed"? "Hotspot"? Please don't mention the expression "safe state".

The city was hardly a liberal __________: the conservatives have won five consecutive elections there

  • 2
    FYI: Hotbed is mainly used in a negative context. Lexico definition: "An environment promoting the growth of something, especially something unwelcome."
    – ermanen
    Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 9:32
  • 1
    May depend on the context: bastion if the place is well-known for those ideas but they're under attack, incubator if the place is just starting to adopt these ideas and stronghold in between
    – mcalex
    Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 5:35

8 Answers 8


You can use stronghold figuratively which is also prevalent in political context.

figurative and in figurative contexts. Esp.: a place where a particular cause or belief is strongly defended or upheld. - OED

Here is a very similar usage I've found from a prominent newspaper, Toronto Sun, published in Toronto, Canada:

As a native Hamiltonian, let me tell you that the Liberals are faltering in Steeltown. The city was a Liberal stronghold for years, the base of John Munro and Sheila Copps, and now it’s mostly represented by the NDP and Conservatives.

  • 1
    Of all the suggestions so far, this is the only result for which I get any hits on Google's ngram viewer. Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 12:51
  • @DarrenRinger: "liberal bastion" beats "liberal stronghold" convincingly. Did you comment before "bastion" was suggested? Or perhaps you mistyped the word?
    – TonyK
    Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 12:37
  • For what it's worth, note the capital "L" in "Liberal" in the quote. Both John Munro and Sheila Copps were "Liberal Party" members of Parliament. In Canada, there's often a distinction between "small L liberals" and "Liberals"
    – Flydog57
    Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 20:16
  • Here is an example in present tense and liberal is with small "l": "New York City isn’t really Fox News territory. The city is a liberal stronghold – just 9.87% of people in Manhattan voted for Trump in 2016 – and home to the kind of liberals that Fox News spends much of its time criticizing." - theguardian.com
    – ermanen
    Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 20:22

"Hotbed" could work. Also consider "bastion", which is often used to describe a place in which certain political sentiments are strongly held:

  1. anything seen as preserving or protecting some quality, condition, etc.
    a bastion of solitude
    a bastion of democracy
  • What about hotspot? Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 0:29
  • Perhaps, but I think it's weaker. At m-w.com it would fit under definition 1 ("a place of more than usual interest, activity, or popularity"), but it might get confused with definition 3, which I think is different from what you want. Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 0:41
  • 1
    bastion is derived from a fortification, so it's the idea of a protected enclave of ideas. In this case, bastion, stronghold, or bulwark are all similar "defensive fortification" words that can be used in this political context. (Although bulwark is probably the least common of the three) Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 15:17
  • 1
    upvoted for bastion specifically
    – barbecue
    Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 21:06
  • Bastion is good in most cases. I would add that because it means "fortress," it would imply that it has been that way for a while. For recent developments, "hotbed" or "becoming a bastion" would work better. Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 0:21


3: center, focus

The bookstore has become something of a nexus for the downtown neighborhood.

This term is value-neutral, without negative or positive connotations. But it has more of a sense of things coming together at a place; Merriam-Webster is correct with its "focus".


If you want to suggest that a certain place is both a center of and a source of specific ideas, you can call it a hub.


Territory describes "an area that an animal or group of animals uses and defends"; in a somewhat metaphorical use one can use it for areas controlled by tribes, including virtual ones like political factions.

In an almost antithetical use of the word one could, in ironic exaggeration, say that the city is not exactly "liberal heartland". It's antithetical because heartland is typically used to for "the central geographical region of the U.S. in which mainstream or traditional values predominate", and not liberal ones.

If the city is surrounded by conservative rural places, as is often the case, one could also consider it an enclave ("a distinct territorial, cultural, or social unit enclosed within or as if within foreign territory") if it were liberal.

Since it is, probably against expectations, not liberal, it is "hardly a liberal enclave".

  • "Enclave" was the first word that came to my mind. Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 15:05
  • Deserves more votes! "hardly liberal territory", "an __ enclave" (where __ is conservative? Implication, it's surrounded by liberal territory) are both good suggestions
    – nigel222
    Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 18:22

The word "Bubble" would work well:

An enclosed or isolated sphere of experience or activity in which the like-minded members of a homogeneous community support and reinforce their shared opinions - Merriam-Webster

A situation in which you only experience things that you expect or find easy to deal with, for example opinions you agree with, or people who are similar to you - Cambridge Dictionary

  • I'm not so sure about this answer. "Bubble" is short for "living inside a bubble" or "within the bubble;" and the suggestion when combined with a particular view ("liberal bubble," "conservative bubble") includes the claim that such views are very or overwhelmingly common there but also suggests something much stronger: that people inside the bubble not only hold one view but are isolated from, do not understand or simply never encounter the outside atmosphere, i.e. alternative or rival views, unless/until they "break" the bubble they're in. Not all ideological hotspots are bubbles. Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 19:01
  • (Examples of usage: Eli Pariser's book The Filter Bubble: What The Internet Is Hiding From You; Johnson and Peacock's "How Do Recent College Graduates Navigate Ideological Bubbles? Findings From a Longitudinal Qualitative Study", etc. etc. etc.) Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 19:03

"Monolith" comes to mind for me

  1. a large and impersonal political, corporate, or social structure regarded as intractably indivisible and uniform.

[possessive 's'] paradise

an ideal or idyllic place or state. "the surrounding countryside is a walker['s paradise]"

"The city was hardly a place with liberal ideology: the conservatives have won five consecutive elections there."

"Ideological is an adjective that describes political, cultural, or religious beliefs. An ideology is a body of ideas, and those who agree with the main idea of something take an ideological stand to support it." – https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/ideological

"Sanctuary city (French: ville sanctuaire; Spanish: ciudad santuario) refers to municipal jurisdictions, typically in North America, that limit their cooperation with the national government's effort to enforce immigration law."

"The city was hardly a liberal sanctuary; the conservatives have won five consecutive elections there."

[possessive 's'] wet dream

informal. something especially appealing to a particular type of person

"hardly a liberal's wet dream"

  • Ngrams not found: liberal's wet dream.... liberal sanctuary and liberal paradise are almost non-existent. liberal ideology has more hits than sanctuary city. (but Ngram doesn't like possessives, so IDK....) Answer to the title is ideological.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 11:26

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