Voting results for Washington State
Washington may be a left coast “blue” state, but the geography of the voting well illustrates the national phenomena of intensifying polarization. The division may be among individual people, but also expressed in geographies down to precincts and census tracts.
The Washington 2012 elections provided ample data to assess this political and geographic divide. I review here the two most polarized races, for president (Obama vs. Romney) and for R74, to reaffirm the right to same sex marriage.
Here are a series of 6 maps, 3 for the presidential race, for the state as a whole, and for the greater Seattle area, and one showing just the extreme tracts for Obama in the Seattle area, and 3 for the R74 contest, for the state, for greater Seattle and again of just the extreme tracts, all in the city of Seattle. These maps illustrate the extreme dimensions of polarization impacting the regions.
The results suggest three overlapping dimensions. The dominant one is itself ecological – that is the urban-rural, or better large dense metropolitan territory versus rural, small towns, with smaller cities and metropolitan suburbs in between, and less polarized geographically. The strongest correlations in demographic variables are transit use vs. SOV use, density, single persons, and multi-family versus mobile homes.
These factors apply to both the Obama race and for R74, but more strongly for Obama. The second dimension is of social liberalism, and is characterized by variables on household relationships, unmarried partners, gay and lesbian, education, e.g., share with BA vs. with high school only, occupation, e.g., percent managerial professional vs. percent in laboring and construction occupations. The social divide also shows difference by age, those 20-34 more liberal, areas with high shares under 18, that is families, more conservative. This dimension too applies to both contests, but more strongly to R74. The third dimension is race, minority racial areas vs. more white areas, and positively correlated with support for Obama, although the Asian share is much more related to support for R74. In Washington we will see that the racial dimension really is somewhat distinct from the urban-rural, as Obama did well, but R 74 did poorly in rural small town areas that are now heavily minority (Hispanic and Native American).
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