Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The politics of the Park: variations on a liberal theme

When asked, I always describe the political leanings of Madison Park as decidedly liberal—just like the rest of the City. I think it’s fairly well known that every neighborhood in Seattle went for Obama in the last presidential election, including (by overwhelming vote) Madison Park. In the eight years I’ve lived here I can only remember seeing a Republican yard sign a couple of times (“McGavick for Senator”); and that guy up the hill who displayed a “Bush/Cheney” bumper sticker on his Range Rover during the 2004 campaign seemed to me to be decidedly out of step with his Washington Park neighbors.

But there may be some nuances to the politics of the Park, while not really surprising, that I--for one--was just not aware of. What got me curious was a posting earlier this week on Slog, the blog of Seattle’s alternative newspaper, The Stranger. In it, Dominic Holden reproduces a map by Northwest Passage Consulting showing the voting by precinct for the recent housing levy (Seattle Proposition 1). Holden takes Broadmoor to task for being—well, I’ll let him speak for himself:

“That big red patch on the right of Seattle (under the Montlake cut) surrounded by blue and green areas—that's Broadmoor, a gated neighborhood near Madison Park. Broadmoor also resoundingly supported Republican Susan Hutchison. In fact, Broadmoor, which is packed with multi-million dollar homes but opposes a levy to house poor people, was the only precinct in Seattle to support Hutchison.”

On the map, red and orange colored precincts voted against the levy and all of the other precincts voted in favor (deep blue being the strongest supporters, yellow being the least strong). As you can see, Broadmoor was not alone in Madison Park in opposing the levy. One precinct in the heart of the Park (SEA 43-2058) also opposed it, but less strongly than did Broadmoor’s precinct (SEA 43-1992). Almost all of the rest of Madison Park and all of Washington Park strongly supported the levy (55% or more).

This got me curious to see if there have been other important variations in the recent pattern of voting within the Park. But there don’t appear to be. There are nine and half precincts in Madison Park (one precinct is actually a Madison Valley precinct, SEA 43-2020, which takes in the area surrounding Arboretum Court to the north and south of E. Madison Street). In general, it appears that all of our precincts vote alike, though with differing levels of intensity.
For example, in the recent Seattle mayor’s race, Madison Park went solidly for Mallahan. Here’s how that looks on a map created by John Wyble of WinPower (as reported by Publicola):
The deepest blue precincts are those that were strongest for Mallahan and the deepest red precincts were the strongest for McGinn. Here, Madison Park was out of step with the rest of the City and was most out of step with some areas very close to us geographically (the University of Washington and Capitol Hill). We were, however, in line with the politics of those across the water in Laurelhust.

So, while our politics may not be in tune with the rest of the town at all times, we do seem to be generally in harmony with each other (and, for that matter, with Denny-Blaine). Even Broadmoor, whose support for Susan Hutchison as County Executive was a recent outlier, has reversed course when it comes to national elections. The gated enclave threw its support to Bush in 2004 (by 315 votes to Kerry’s 230), but by 2008 the tide had turned. While the eight other exclusively Madison Park precincts gave Obama support ranging from 61% to 75%, Broadmoor also came through with a Democratic vote: Obama with 301 votes (53%) to McCain’s 263. Perhaps signaling the death knell of Republicanism in this old town? Probably not.

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