While the election was a triumph for Democrats Obama and Gregoire, and perhaps surprisingly good for Republican McKenna in the greater Seattle region, the geographic pattern of votes was very far from uniform. The tremendous variation in 'êDemocraticness'ê is no surprise, but is worth looking at the precinct level. To illustrate this I looked at maps showing the votes for Barack Obama, Christine Gregoire, and John Ladenburg for King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.
The maps reinforce the simple and strong geography of three worlds: the city of Seattle, suburbia (including inner urban Pierce and Snohomish), and the county'ês exurban and rural environs. Rural areas, except for anomalous Vashon, tend to vote Republican (although Obama and even Gregoire weakly carried quite a few areas). Suburbia votes moderately Democratic (Obama and Gregoire) and moderately Republican (McKenna). Seattle, well, is off the chart in its overall Democratic orientation, but even there, some defection to McKenna is evident. We follow a broader national trend, with inner urban areas giving extreme margins to Obama, while rural-small town areas resisted the call for change.
The correlation between the vote for Obama and for Ladenburg, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General and outgoing Pierce County Executive, was rather high, at 90, with about one-quarter of voters opting for Obama and McKenna, the Republican incumbent Attorney General.
The concentration of highest shares for Obama (over 75 percent) in the city of Seattle (plus Vashon) is quite extraordinary, with only a few precincts in Pierce County (around the University of Puget Sound) and Snohomish County (Tulalip reservation) of such high numbers. In Seattle, as expected, the highest shares tend to reflect the distribution of the highly educated and the less familial (central and north Seattle), and in Black areas. Moderately high shares for Obama (60-75 percent) dominate suburban King, the city of Tacoma, and the denser older suburban southwest Snohomish County. Obama weakly won much of the next geographic tier (north central King) much of outer suburban and exurban Shohomish, and much of suburban Pierce. All these areas were fairly strongly for Mc Kenna, and many were marginally for Dino Rossi, the Republican candidate for governor. McCain carried much of exurban and rural Pierce county and southeastern King County (more populist, less educated), and scattered exurban and rural precincts in Snohomish County.
For attorney general, the pattern is similar but the results different, because of a relative Republican shift almost everywhere. High Democratic margins (over 60 percent) are confined to central and southern Seattle, Vashon, and several areas of the city of Tacoma, the latter reflecting Ladenburg'ês popularity as Pierce County Executive. Ladenburg more weakly carried north Seattle, and inner southern suburbs, less familial areas in Snohomish County and south suburban Tacoma. But McKenna dominated almost all the Eastside suburbs, eastern and far southern King County, most of Snohomish, and most of outer suburban, exurban and rural Pierce County.
Overall the analysis shows that Republicans can'êt carry Seattle, that a charismatic Democrat (e.g. Obama) can win some small town and rural areas, but with little or no 'êcoattail'ê capacity. On the other hand, suburbia, with the large majority of the region'ês population, remains a partisan battleground, and offers a promising opportunity for moderate Republicans, if they can win the nomination.