Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Washington state's political divide, long west-east, now more rural-urban, driven by rural resentment of elites

Color depth shows percentage ranges for Trump, Clinton (Wikipedia)
"For decades, pollsters have called it the Cascade Curtain, the apparent voting-habit divide between Western and Eastern Washington. Eastern Washington votes Republican, the idea goes, while the state’s Pacific coast and Puget Sound counties tilt liberal. . . . But it might be time to shove aside that curtain for good, political scientists say. Recent voter polls, election results, and economic data reveal that Washington’s divide now is urban and rural, not east-west," Mike Lewis reports for My Northwest.

Longtime Washington state pollster Stuart Elway "said the shift became abundantly clear in the 2016 elections and more so with every poll he’s done since. Coastal counties that had not voted for a Republican since Herbert Hoover voted for Donald Trump," Lewis writes.

Hillary Clinton carried the state, on the strength of votes from the four counties around Puget Sound, where 54 percent of voters live. Three of those counties are "net donor" counties to the state, meaning they give more in taxes than they get back in spending, but rural voters think it's their counties that are getting the short end of the stick, Elway has found in his polling. "Only 12 percent correctly answer that their county gets more back than they put in," Elway told Lewis. A similar phenomenon was noted in rural Wisconsin focus groups by University of Wisconsin Professor Katherine Cramer for her book, The Politics of Resentment.

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