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Red Counties, Blue Counties

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Politics & Government

[UPDATE: NOV. 7, 2012: Here’s the 2012 map.]

Election Day is one week away.  We can’t say which presidential candidate will win the most votes in some Washington counties, but we’re pretty confident about 22 counties shown as red or blue in the adjacent map.

The evergreen state as a whole has been everblue in presidential politics since 1988, when Democrat Michael Dukakis won the state’s electoral votes.  Republican George H W Bush won the national race that year, but he was the first to lose the state in what would become a seven election cycle winning streak for the Democrats.  But just because the state votes blue these days, don’t assume every part of the state does.  Some counties are solid Republican just as others are solid Democrat.  These are the monochromatic counties; they’re either Republican red or Democrat blue.

We studied the voting results in past presidential elections and discovered three interesting facts:

  1. No county has been loyal to either major party throughout its history.
  2. Except for Douglas County, all counties have picked third party candidates at least once.
  3. Some election years have seen the state make huge political swings.

On that third fact, for instance, almost all Washington counties voted Democrat (Lyndon Johnson) in 1964, and nearly all went Republican (Ronald Reagan) in 1984.  But such consensus is rare and since we’re searching here for counties voting consistently on one side or the other, we decided to use 1988 as our benchmark to put all that warm and fuzzy consensus behind us.  We were left with 22 counties that haven’t veered from one political party or the other for (at least) the last seven elections.  For the fun of it, we included the years and candidates from the other party that last tickled their presidential fancy.


9 Solidly Democrat Counties, 1988-2012
  County’s Last Republican Vote
1988-Michael Dukakis, 1992-Bill Clinton, 1996-Bill Clinton,
2000-Al Gore, 2004-John Kerry, 2008-Barack Obama,
2012-Barack Obama.

Cowlitz County   1980-Ronald Reagan
Grays Harbor County
1928-Herbert Hoover
Jefferson County   1980-Ronald Reagan
King County   1984-Ronald Reagan
Mason County   1984-Ronald Reagan
Pacific County 1952-Dwight D. Eisenhower
Pierce County   1984-Ronald Reagan
San Juan County   1984-Ronald Reagan
Thurston County   1984-Ronald Reagan

13 Solidly Republican Counties, 1988-2012
  County’s Last Democrat Vote
1988-George H. W. Bush, 1992-George H. W. Bush, 1996-Bob Dole,
2000-George W. Bush, 2004-George W. Bush, 2008-John McCain,
2012-Mitt Romney.

Adams County
  1936-Franklin D. Roosevelt
Benton County   1964-Lyndon B. Johnson
Chelan County   1964-Lyndon B. Johnson
Columbia County   1964-Lyndon B. Johnson
Douglas County   1964-Lyndon B. Johnson
Franklin County   1964-Lyndon B. Johnson
Garfield County   1964-Lyndon B. Johnson
Grant County   1964-Lyndon B. Johnson
Lewis County   1964-Lyndon B. Johnson
Lincoln County 1948-Harry S Truman
Stevens County   1964-Lyndon B. Johnson
Walla Walla County
  1964-Lyndon B. Johnson
Yakima County 1964-Lyndon B. Johnson

NOTE: The 17 counties not listed above voted for at least one Democrat presidential candidate and at least one Republican 1988-2008.  Those counties appear light green on the map: Asotin, Clallam, Cowlitz, Ferry, Island, Kitsap, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan, Pend Orielle, Skagit, Skamania, Snohomish, Spokane, Wahkiakum, Whatcom, Whitman.

See also: Sticking to One Party in the Governor’s Office


One Response to “Red Counties, Blue Counties”

  1. Kari Says:

    This is fascinating!