On One Hand

November 3, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:02 am

In the aftermath of the election (I consider “aftermath” the best word), my analytical nature kicked in and I found myself browsing the Bush vs. Kerry numbers in all sorts of places. Many people might find it boring just to flip through numbers like that, but I find it fascinating. All these numbers are real, the reason they favor Kerry so much is because I was looking at urban areas, which tend to be very liberal. Here are some interesting numbers and my conclusions on them:

Washington DC: 90% Kerry 9% Bush
I think we should just let Washington DC pick the president. It’s our nation’s capital and is therefore representative of the nation as a whole, right?

Denver, Colorado: 70% Kerry 29% Bush
Boulder, Colorado: 70% Kerry 29%Bush
Denver and Boulder counties got identical election breakdowns. This is interesting, because Boulder county includes much more than the city of Boulder while Denver county ends with the city limits. I guess Boulder is pretty liberal as far as smaller cities go.

Travis County, (Austin) Texas: 56% Kerry 42% Bush
The capital city of Texas is more liberal than one would expect from that state. I guess it proves that urban areas can bring progressive values anywhere, even in the bastion of social and economic conservatism that is Texas.

Manhattan: 82% Kerry 17% Bush
As would be expected, Manhattan swings left. Yes, folks, the #1 most terrorist targeted place in America doesn’t buy the whole strong-on-terror crap from Bush. Yes, folks, the business capital of the world voted Democratic. Maybe those who work on Wall Street live in New Jersey. Or maybe it’s just that those who work in that kind of business make up about 0.001% of the U.S. population, even though we bow down to them as if they’re a majority. (Only 1% of Americans directly own stock.) In any case, how the heck does a Republican get to be mayor in New York?
The Bronx was identical to Manhattan in voting breakdown. Brooklyn was slightly more conservative (But still overwhelmingly supported Kerry).
Staten Island, also within New York City, voted 42% Kerry 57% Bush. I was surprised to find a Conservative area within the city. Isn’t that where the Jehova’s Witness are headquartered? Maybe that was Manhattan.

San Francisco: 83% Kerry 16% Bush.
The whole Bay Area went for Kerry. It’s one of the few urban areas that stays liberal even when you go quite far out into the suburbs and surrounding counties.

Los Angelas County: 61% Kerry 38% Bush
I think Los Angelas would be even more blue if it weren’t for the fact that the county includes many suburbs of Los Angelas and doesn’t stop with the city itself and then switch to a new county in the suburbs as many metropolitan areas do.

San Diego County:46% Kerry 53% Bush
San Diego is one of the few large cities in the United States that is actually fairly conservative. The county does include much of the surrounding reigion, but for being within the top ten largest cities in America I would expect the urban population to overcome the suburban population. In addition to being very Conservative, it is also one of the most poorly planned cities as far as urban sprawl is concerned (all of Southern California is, as is much of the Sun Belt but San Diego is worse.)Considering the huge Hispanic population in San Diego, which would lean toward Kerry, we can assume that the White population in San Diego is very Republican if the city as a whole leans Bush.

Philadelphia: 80% Kerry 20% Bush
Another big city that swings way left. Way to go.

Cook County (Chicago), Illinois: 70% Kerry 29% Bush
Cook County includes some suburbs so expect Chicago itself to be even more strongly in the blue.

King County (Seattle), Washington: 65% Kerry 34% Bush
This county also includes the suburbs of Seattle in addition to the city itself.

Oklahoma County (Oklahoma City), Oklahoma: 36% Kerry 64% Bush
Not all urban areas are progressive. But the conservative cities tend to be smaller.

Multnomah County (Portland), Oregon: 73% Kerry 27% Bush
Portland is one of the most beautiful cities in the country. Oregon’s state law requiring “growth boudaries” around all of its cities is one of the things that makes it that way. I think every state should follow Oregon’s example. Though Multnomah county includes more than just Portland itself, the growth boundaries limit suburban sprawl, so a suburban vote has less impact in this county. That doesn’t stop the Republicans from existing, of course. They just go elsewhere. I don’t think manipulating demographics through growth boudaries really effects votes that much but it does make for nicer cities.

Teton County, Wyoming: 53% Kerry 45% Bush
It’s not an urban area, but it’s the one county in Wyoming that wasn’t for Bush so I thought it was noteworthy. Teton County includes Teton and part of Yellowstone national parks, meaning it has a share of federal employees housed there and perhaps many of those National Park employees are environmentalists (if any of you think of a better reason you think Teton went blue, tell me).

In most of the United States, urban areas are liberal, suburbs are split, and rural areas are conservative. I think it’s because people living in Urban areas 1) are exposed to more diverse social groups that must co-exist and 2) see the need for social programs to help with crime, education, poverty, and transportation to deal with problems that an urban area is more likely to have. Also, people in urban areas have more access to zoos, aquariums, parks, museums, and all the like which are largely taxpayer funded, so urban voters see where their taxes go while rural voters don’t. In many Northern states across the country some rural areas are liberal too, but most rural areas are conservative (south, midwest) or libertarian-conservative (the West, plus New Hampshire). Of course there is the occasional small-town progressive oasis that breaks from the trend, like Boulder, Colorado or Port Townsend, Washington. In the South, however, Republican small-town counties border Democratic (not liberal) small-town counties that are dominated by African Americans who vote Democrat on economic issues. Some Hispanic areas in Southern Texas and Arizona are more liberal than one would expect from rural counties. Some Native American counties like Ganvalley, South Dakota are very Democratic for a rural area as well. Ethnic minorities often gather together and swing the vote to the Democrats in a relatively rural area. However, the vast majority of rural areas are Republican, which is bad for Democrats as far as the House of Representatives is concerned. In the House we have a few liberals who get 70-85% of the votes of their constituents, then myrad conservatives and a few Democrats barely hanging on by slim margains in the red areas. Since demographic changes occur very slowly, I wouldn’t expect a Democratic majority in the House for a very, very long time.



  1. Considering the huge Hispanic population in San Diego, which would lean toward Kerry

    why would they do that? kerry supports a woman’s right to choose!

    we can assume that the White population in San Diego is very Republican if the city as a whole leans Bush.

    that seems like an earnest but somewhat misguided/idealistic presumption…
    historically the hispanic vote in america has gone to the GOP. what makes san diego conservative-leaning [in addition to the large hispanic population, which usually votes republican] is that there are marine bases, naval bases, air force bases, the national guard, the coast guard, and major border patrol operations. then there is general atomic, general dynamic, and dozens of other munitions developers and manufacturers. the biggest business in town is the military industrial complex. i will bet you anything that if you can find statistics including ethnicity, you will find that a higher percentage of non-hispanics voted for kerry than hispanics, both inside and outside of san diego county. i’m saying ‘non-hispanics’ rather than ‘whites’ because ‘white’ is racial, while ‘hispanic’ is an ethnic distinction; many hispanics also identify themselves as white. just last year, 80% of san diegans voted for schwarzenegger, so if there is a trend here, it’s the GOP [hopefully] losing a stronghold. it might look to you like a big win for the republicans, but this is a huge democratic turnout for san diego, perhaps the largest ever.

    Comment by seth_death — November 3, 2004 @ 10:09 am | Reply

    • historically the hispanic vote in america has gone to the GOP

      That has never been true. Look at those numbers again.

      Comment by ononehand — November 3, 2004 @ 7:38 pm | Reply

      • you’re right, it goes both ways, gore enjoyed a 62% majority of the nationwide hispanic vote 4 years ago… clinton enjoyed an even larger majority, but 80% of cubans voted for george w bush in the last election; and bush won florida by less than 600 votes! bush just won florida again, thanks in part to the majority of hispanics there voting for him. i got that 80% statistic from an associated press article, which was actually making the case for the unpredictability of the hispanic vote – that hispanics can swing an election either way, and do, by voting for who they like. puerto ricans are the most likely hispanics to vote democratic, [unfortunately they’re concentrated in new york, which would be democratic leaning even without ther help] while cubans are the most likely to vote GOP. what really puzzled me was your idea that hispanics and whites are two mutually exclusive groups with well-defined party loyalties. hispanics come in every hue, including white brown and black. white san diegans, hispanic and otherwise, are conservative compared to their bay area counterparts, but then so are the jews, blacks, and asians there. also, hispanics are a difficult demographic to collect data on, because you have to define them first. do you define them as people seen by the poll taker as hispanic? seen by themselves as hispanic? or people with spanish last names? going by last names in california means including the bulk of filipinos, most of whom have spanish last names, and who reliably vote republican. polls predicting the hispanic vote vary by as much as 16%, which is a massive statistical margin of error.

        Comment by seth_death — November 3, 2004 @ 9:42 pm

      • Ok so you basically just gave me a lot of facts I could have told you myself that don’t really effect what I had to say about San Diego.

        I never said anything about whites and hispanics never swinging or being “mutually exclusive.” Obviously San Diego County has a huge Hispanic population (a well-known and widely unrefuted fact), as do most counties that are directly across the border from Mexico. And if they’re right across the border from Mexico, they’re almost definately either from Mexico, or have some sort of ties to Mexico or Mexican heritage, which leaves me fairly confident calling them Hispanic. Every political scientist uses the term “Hispanic,” it’s not like I’m making some sort of revolutionary claim by analyzing the group’s vote in San Diego and suggesting which way it leaned. And Hispanics almost always vote Democratic. That’s why if you look at a county-by-county voting map of the Southwest, even in Texas, the counties directly across the border from Mexico are usually strongly Democratic. Democrat activists deliberately target Hispanic neighborhoods in turn-out-the-vote campaigns because doing so will almost definately help Democrats. This may be the last election where one can say so with confidence, but Hispanics are historically part of what we would call the Democratic “base.” Hispanics DO have well-defined party loyalty. It is safe to say so, just as it is safe to say that Cuban Americans, which are a (very small) subset of Hispanic Americans, commonly vote Republican.

        In politics it is very common for an analyzer aknowledge that a certain demographic group tends to vote a certain way. This is not new, nor is it controversial. Nor does it limit the Hispanic population to any “hue” as you suggest I am doing. The fact that the hispanic vote can vary by sixteen percent does not change the fact that it is overwhelmingly Democratic.

        And if you look at the numbers in San Diego, my analysis was correct anyway: the white non-hispanics DO vote very, very Republican.

        Comment by ononehand — November 4, 2004 @ 3:35 am

      • Considering the huge Hispanic population in San Diego, which would lean toward Kerry, we can assume that the White population in San Diego is very Republican if the city as a whole leans Bush.

        that is what i hear as you representing the groups as mutually exclusive. sorry if that was a misunderstanding, but i still hear it that way. even if that’s not what you meant, your presumption itself still seems flawed… if 57% of hispanic san diegans voted for bush, [san diego union tribune] almost as high as in texas, [59%] how exactly are they ‘leaning towards kerry?’ usually ‘leaning’ implies a majority, and in context it really seems like that’s what you meant.

        And if you look at the numbers in San Diego, my analysis was correct anyway: the white non-hispanics DO vote very, very Republican.

        but wait a minute… are we looking at the same numbers? if hispanics voted for bush in this election in record numbers, [which they did according to The Hispanic Alliance Progress Institute, CNN, others] but far less san diegans voted for bush this time around, and the total bush vote [52%] is lower than the hispanic bush vote [57%], doesn’t that mean [presuming the demographics are relatively constant over 4 years] that non-hispanics [the majority of whom are white] turned out in record numbers for the DNC this time around? how is that VERY VERY republican? you can’t construe anything about the white san diegans except that they voted LESS republican than the hispanics and also less republican than they have in decades, perhaps ever. [2000 was about 65/35, this time was 52/47] and since nationwide, whites voted nearly 2 to 1 for bush over kerry, [new york times] the white people in san diego are clearly less progressive than san francisco, [where bush won a measly 16%] but certainly much LESS republican than the white folks in those pesky red states.

        Comment by seth_death — November 4, 2004 @ 6:10 am

  2. San Diego is not “worse” in terms of planning than the rest of Southern California. We have a popular mass transit system and building new freeways is considered out of the question. We also have quite a few urban villages, and much of the city and county was designed around the railroads and remains so organized.

    Comment by jdhenchman — November 3, 2004 @ 1:06 pm | Reply

    • You are right in that the whole region is very poorly planned, not just San Diego.

      Traffic congestion and pollution are worse in Los Angelas, but Los Angelas also has a greater population density to cope with and that must be considered when evaluating which city is “worse.” Surrounding smaller cities that checkerboard the region contribute to the area’s problems.

      Having a mass transit system and a few urban villages doesn’t mean much: find me a city of San Diego’s size that doesn’t have anything like that. To determine the success of the city’s planning, you have to know the percentage of people who use the transit system or the percentage of people living in space-efficient or pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods (or whatever criteria you have). I don’t have the numbers on transit right now but I remember that the percentage of people in San Diego who use transit was very small for a city it’s size (larger cities usually have a lot more mass transit). I won’t deny that the city is making attempts to catch up with the rest of the large cities in the country, and perhaps it will soon be considerably better than Los Angelas if Los Angelas doesn’t start working on better planning as well, but as of now I would call San Diego a textbook case in poor initial planning, whatever you want to attribute that to.

      Comment by ononehand — November 3, 2004 @ 7:37 pm | Reply

      • San Diego was well planned around its rail lines, and like most major cities, had a big boom of cul-de-sacs and freeway-oriented development post WW2. That died out, though, by the mid-1980’s and downtown is now booming (which is an incredible understatement, as anyone who visits Downtown San Diego can attest). Since the late 1980’s we invest as much in transit as we do in local streets and roads, and there’s no more freeway expansions (other than carpool lanes) on any planning horizon. We have an extensive grid street system through most of the city, and through the old downtowns in the county, which is something found almost nowhere in LA, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, etc., etc.

        Los Angeles has none of that. Once oriented around transit, more than half of the city is nowhere near any kind of adequate transit and freeways are still being thrown up and widened. Subway construction has been halted indefinitely, and new rail lines on the board are few and inadequate. Los Angeles’s downtown is essentially deserted except during business hours, and unlike San Diego’s, remains entirely auto-centered.

        So in short, I don’t understand why you say San Diego was a “textbook” case in poor “initial” planning, when initial planning was quite good and planners go to San Diego to see our successful transit system (Portland, Oregon, for example, followed OUR example) and the urban villages. 70,000 people a day ride our rail system; more ride the bus system.

        I think you’d like being in San Diego a hundred times more than being in Los Angeles. 🙂

        Comment by jdhenchman — November 3, 2004 @ 10:10 pm

      • I’ve been to San Diego many, many times. Granted the last time I was there I was sixteen (three years ago), but I still remember what it looked like. And comparing San Diego to other cities I have been in long enough to analyze the level of planning (San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Boulder, Washington DC, Baltimore, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Santa Fe, etc. . . ) I would say that San Diego as a whole is very, very sprawled. It does have some nice dense isolated communities within it, and I won’t deny that. And I won’t deny that they’re making it better; you know more about what they’re building now than I do and even while I was there I saw some construction projects that looked promising. But I’m sure you’ve seen quite a few other cities yourself and you’ve got to acknowledge that San Diego has a lot to overcome compared to most urban areas its size that tend to be much denser.

        Comment by ononehand — November 4, 2004 @ 3:44 am


    This city is the complete exception to Texas.

    Comment by punkstress — November 3, 2004 @ 4:12 pm | Reply

  4. I’m from Austin too, and suffice it to say I’m pissed.

    Comment by ruevergniaud — November 3, 2004 @ 4:24 pm | Reply

    • I’m more depressed than I am pissed.

      Comment by punkstress — November 3, 2004 @ 5:14 pm | Reply

      • Shut up, I’m going to slap you.

        55/45 in bexar county — San Antonio.

        So bush edged us by ten %? Mandate? Yes. Total victory? No.

        Comment by alex_jon — November 3, 2004 @ 11:28 pm

      • Haha, what? I just love Austin. I know other counties went blue… chill the fuck out.

        Comment by punkstress — November 4, 2004 @ 3:38 am

  5. Those are really fascinating statistics to be aware of. Thanks for posting this, I wouldn’t have seen them otherwise.

    Comment by not_a_freak — November 4, 2004 @ 12:08 am | Reply

  6. The Grand Teton area of Wyoming is Democratic because it is dominated by many environmentally conscious, socially progressive, and frankly more urbane folk than in the rest of Wyoming. The enivornments of Jackson Hole and Star Valley more closely mirror that of Vail, Aspen, or Rodeo Drive than Casper or Laramie. This is an area home to Harrison Ford and many ski and resort bums more than it is to large ranchers.

    Comment by quidestveritas — November 11, 2004 @ 6:03 pm | Reply

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