History, politics, people of Oly WA

Category: county commission

What statewide partisan identification could mean for 2024 elections and beyond

Washington voters seem increasingly engaged in politics, yet not through stronger party identification. This could spell trouble for Republicans, as it hasn’t translated into significant gains for them.

I’ve been tracking party identification data in Washington for years, and the past six years have revealed some intriguing trends. 

Link to my spreadsheet here

Since Washington doesn’t register by party, partisan identity is fluid and personal, constantly evolving based on individual choice or poll responses.

Overall, Democratic identification has steadily grown since the 1990s, becoming dominant in the past decade. Republican identification has consistently shrunk during this period, while the independent category has also declined, albeit at a slower pace.

But the data gets interesting when we dig deeper. For clarity, I’ve grouped the trends by Presidential eras, reflecting the nationalization of politics and its influence on state-level partisan identity.

A Peek at Two Recent Eras:

Obama era: Both Republican and Democratic identification declined, with independents becoming the plurality during Obama’s second term.

Trump era: Independent identification plummeted over 14 points in four years, with Democrats gaining the most (8.25%) and Republicans gaining less (1.25%).

Biden’s Early Presidency:

Now, after three years of Biden in office, clear trends emerge:

  • Democratic identification remains stable despite fluctuations among independents and Republicans.
  • Republicans have gained 1.70% since Biden, while independents have gained 6.73%. Notably, Democratic identification has only dropped 0.11% during this period.

The Mystery of Missing Responses:

The key lies in a rarely reported fourth category: “did not respond.” More people have started answering the party identification question again during Biden’s presidency, and those responses vary across polls. However, one thing is consistent: voters are re-engaging with the question.

Not All Roses for Republicans:

While Republicans and independents may be recovering some lost ground, it’s significant that those returning to the question aren’t siding with either party. Democrats still hold a comfortable lead in identification, despite the movement among other groups.

Looking Ahead:

If Biden is re-elected, a repeat of the Obama era endgame is possible. Independents might become the largest group statewide, while Democrats maintain their lead or decline slightly. During Obama’s presidency, this coincided with a Republican decline (-2.56%) and a rapid independent surge (+6.76%).

In conclusion, Washington voters are indeed becoming more politically engaged, but not necessarily through traditional party affiliation. This trend holds both opportunities and challenges for different political groups, with the potential for further shifts in the state’s political landscape.

The increase in Independent ID during the Obama era resulted in a unique phenomenon in Thurston County: local candidates successfully running and winning without either party label. This strategy has shown staying power, exemplified by incumbents like Gary Edwards retaining their seats. However, since the Trump era’s decline of the independent category, partisan-backed candidates like Tye Menser have unseated independents, and independents in open seats have struggled. The increase again during a potential Biden second presidency could mean a repeat of this trend.

This suggests that while independents might thrive in local, county-level races where statewide political norms hold less sway, a different breed of candidate would be needed to harness the potential surge in independent identification and launch a successful campaign for statewide or legislative office.

Olyforum, where did it die?

This hilarious ONN report reminded me of a dead local online civilisation, the once vaunted (by me) Olyforums:

So, what happened to Olyforums?

The folks that I understand to have been the main moderators over there, S6, Christie, Rummy, and Just Plain Onry (I can spell that one out) haven’t signed on to their forums since late last summer. The drop off in posting seemed to occur in late spring, but the dead rot didn’t seem to really set in until September.

Anyway, what happened over there? Here are some possibilities:
1. Summer is a hard time to blog. Lots of sunshine, lots of travelling, people just get bored with it and sometimes it just drops away. And, sometimes everyone drops away at the same time.
2. Twitter and FB done killed it. I noticed a trend the year that my attention was being sucked up by my other social media accounts and I had less energy to blog. I am a lot less active at Olyblog and the blogging I have been doing has been over here. I can expect that other users at OF have experienced the same thing and just don’t have time to put up with a forum where they can hear from people they don’t particularly like. Moderating is a headache too, as we’ve learned.
3. Just a bit too caustic to live? Since the beginning, Olyforums was supposed to a be a place where everyone could hate on each other without being afraid of being banned. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t moderation, but the invention of invisible in you’re just browsing subforums (The Basement and the War Zone) was supposed to give more freedom to people who just wanted to yell at each other online.
Maybe a bit of history is needed. My understanding is that the founder of Olyforum, S6, started it up in reaction to moderation policies at another local blog, Olyblog. The core idea was that Olyforum would be friendlier place for conservatives who chafed at the apparent liberal bent of moderation policies at Olyblog.
Anyway, what could have happened is that when you found an online forum based on the core principal that everyone is allowed to be a shit head to each other, eventually, people get tired of going to a place full of shit heads. Rather than asking people to better their discourse, the place eventually falls apart.
I think this late thread in the deep dungeon of Olyforum points to that. In the thread which is housed in the War Zone subforum, apparently a really weird and threatening PM from one member to another causes the messaged member to drop out of the forum. Apparently, a lot of people were experiencing that.

Sandra Romero’s official announcement for Thurston County Commission

I didn’t say this in my previous post, but it is weird that people are already announcing for a local election almost two years from now. Not that I blame Sandra.

Here is her official announcement (hat tip to Sarah in the comments):

Sandra Romero announces her candidacy for Thurston County Commissioner, Position 2 in the 2008 election.

Sandra Romero served in the Washington State House of Representatives for 12 years and on the Olympia City Council for three years. While a State Representative, she chaired the House Local Government Committee and the House State Government Committee. She was also an active member of the House Transportation Committee.

She has a passion for good government and believes that government works best when citizens are engaged and informed. As a legislator, she distinguished herself on major local government priority issues such as: growth management, improved contracting procedures, building code improvements and transportation projects.

She has demonstrated her frugal style with taxpayer’s money. Consistently, she was the House Member with the lowest office expenses charged to the state budget. “I always treat taxpayers’ money as carefully as I treat my own,” she says.

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