I used to live on the Eastside when it was a deep shade of red. Democrats seemed to consist of a few University of Washington profs in Kirkland and a few old hippies in Duvall. When I edited Eastsideweek in 1992, we endorsed Bill Clinton, arguing, in effect, that he would make a better Republican than George Bush — certainly a better suburban president. The 1990s marked a slow shift leftward for the suburbs, in part because along with Starbuckses came urbanites who'd landed jobs at places like Microsoft. Today, McCain and Obama seem to be splitting the suburban vote, slight edge to McCain.
The Eastside is turning bluer, but not without a fight. We'll know more about that tonight when we get returns for the 8th District congressional race. But one thing to note: Incumbent Republican Rep. Dave Reichert has had to run to the middle (and away from Bush) to hang on. Be interesting to see if the Obama factor finally pries loose a coveted congressional district — helped by techies like Democrat Darcy Burner who have reshaped the region's political demographics. (I got a kick out of hearing a caller on KUOW-FM's The Conversation this afternoon say that he had voted and was heading out to reward himself with a new X-box 360.)
Cross the 520 bridge or drive between Kirkland and Redmond, as I did this afternoon, and most of the blue you see is on Dino Rossi or John McCain signs. It's not half-hearted. Driving back west to Seattle near the old 520 toll plaza, traffic slowed. On a walkway overhead, young students braved rain and hail to wave McCain/Palin signs, perhaps unwisely causing a small pre-rush-hour jam. They seemed like jocks cheering on their team in the home stadium. East and West haven't quite met yet. Election Day still has a kind of Apple Cup feel.