Dr. Stuart Elway of Elway Research provided a powerful presentation on the shifts in Washington State voting and why we are experiencing division in our communities.
Providing a series of charts Dr. Elway delivered a visual picture of the historical shifts in Washington State voting patterns that began in 1972 through 2020. The impact has been profound starting in 1984 as Washington State shifted to voting primarily for democrat candidates. Prior to 1984 it was common for Washington Voters to split the ticket in voting patterns between parties.
The change created what many refer to as the "Cascade Curtain", "Red & Blue Washington," or the "Wet Side," voting for Democrats and the "Dry Side" voting for Republicans
Recently the divide has been defined as the "Emerald Curtain" emerging as an Urban versus Rural political preference.
Dr. Elway explained the shift of demographics featured in the book the "Big Sort" by Bill Bishop where the author documents how people are moving with their feet.
4-5% of the population moves to a different part of the county each year and have moved to counties that were more like minded. This represents 100 million people in the last decade moving, and they have literally divided the country politically, resulting in more one party districts.
This results in more polarized legislative options when one party dominates the voting in a county.
The data now shows 60% of people live in landslide counties where there was only one party candidate for congress.
The sort has also changed the way people approach political parties today. In the past people aligned with political parties based upon policies and positions on issues. Today this has shifted, and people are picking a party that matches their identity first and then forming policy preferences to align with their choice of the party.
This explains why any disagreement is now a threat to identity and the politics that follow become polarizing. This is having a profound consequence on politics as we know it. As districts become more homogenous and dominated by a single party, candidates have to adopt more extreme positions to get noticed.
The result of the "Big Sort" and the joining of a party based upon identity first, has led to political parties becoming more tribal reducing the chance for compromise. This has also had a polarizing effect between communities.
This presentation is packed with data that you don't want to miss. Take the opportunity to see the full presentation and have access to the slides presented by Dr. Elway.
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