Something I started noticing the last few months is how the geography of Independent and Democratic crossover voters seemed to follow a certain logic.
For example, if you took the precincts in Thurston County that voted for both Hilary Franz for lands commissioner and Gary Edwards for county commissioner, they seemed to generally fall into the geography that I’ve described as a general suburban belt between downtown Olympia and the rural south county.
Now for a second, I want to remind you how weird it is that there are places that voted for a guy who literally does not believe in land use regulation and also Hilary Franz.
In the same way that these neighborhoods combined their votes to support a liberal statewide candidate and an independent conservative candidate in 2016, a lot of the same places combined to support both conservative Independent Bud Blake and Democrat Maria Cantwell this year. But, they weren’t the same places. And because these crossover precincts shifted, Bud Blake wasn’t able to pull out a victory.
Just looking at the raw numbers, Bud Blake did worse. There were 21 precincts that voted for the Independent/Democratic combination in both years and 42 that only went for Edwards and Franz in 2016. Blake was only able to pick up 34 Maria Cantwell precincts to replace those Edwards/Franz districts he lost.
When you look at the geography, it gets clearer why Bud’s crossover precincts weren’t able to pull him over the finish line. They represent a shift in how voters arranged themselves on the map. In this map of crossover precincts orange is both 2016/18, red is only 2016 and blue is only 2018.
So, while it seems there is a lot of flipping (neighboring precincts going one way in 2016 and another in 2018) when you get down into the blue precincts that Bud Blake won alongside Maria Cantwell this fall, they have a slightly more rural flavor than Gary Edwards’ exclusive crossovers in 2016. While it could mean that Democratic voters were more enthusiastic this year, making places that had been Independent/Republican in 2016 Independent/Democratic this year, I don’t think that happened.
I think the action was more on the Democratic side of the commissioner race. And, while it seems close geographically, I think Bud’s Democratic opponent Tye Mesner moved the battle lines ever slow slightly further out towards the rural part of the county. While only being a few blocks here and there, by moving the crossover precincts that Bud Blake was able to win further away from the center of the county, he gained more votes in liberal precincts.
And yes, I know its been almost a month since election day and I’m usually much better about getting these maps out. I apologize.
In recent episodes of the Olympia Standard and OlyTalks, I talk about a few of these maps. Both these episodes are worth a listen if you want to hear me break these down. Or, if you have a question, just drop me a line.