Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Primary Colors

On The PES earlier this year, Scotty and I discussed local contingency plans in the event of an outbreak of avian flu. We joked that if it ever hit here, we would bug out to Hooper.

No bird flu yet, but cackling Pullman vultures like Carolyn Cress and Jane Guido, are making the small hamlet in far western Whitman County sound better all the time.

You see, according to primary election results released in Thursday's Whitman County Gazette, NOT ONE Democratic ballot was cast in Hooper. Or in in nearby Hay either. In the county seat of Colfax, a whopping 81% of the votes cast were Republican.

It is tricky to make any predictions for the general election based on the primary. The Republicans had two local races with four candidates each. No Democrat at either the state or local level faced any appreciable opposition. Some voters were also apparently perturbed by the combination of pick-a-party and Whitman County's first ever all-mail vote and stayed away or cast protest votes. Plus, primary turnouts are much less.

However, despite predictions of widespread disaffection with Republicans in general and President Bush in particular, the GOP still firmly rules Whitman County. 62% of the 8467 ballots submitted in Whitman County were Republican ballots. Contrast this with votes received by Republican candidates in the 2004 general election (51% for George Nethercutt, 52% for George Bush, 55% for Cathy McMorris, 56% for David Buri, 60% for Mark Schoesler and 62% for Don Cox). Outside of Pullman, only one precinct went Democratic. That was Palouse 107 (by only two votes though). A Republican Party leader told me that Palouse was "pretty liberal." Now I see what he means.

Pullman, as usual, thanks to students, remains a Democratic bastion. 27 of 30 precincts went Democratic. That, however, is the same ratio as in 2004. 41% of the total Pullman vote was Republican. It appears the Republicans have lost little support in Pullman. Does this have portents nationally? We'll see.

I'm happy to report that my precinct (120) cast 211 Republican ballots, first in Pullman and fifth most in all of Whitman County. My precinct is mostly young families with children, not students. In fact, more Republican ballots were cast in Precinct 120 than the total number of ballots for most of the the campus precincts combined. If the population growth associated with SEL continues, it is not inconceivable that in ten years, Pullman will switch from Blue to Red.

The Republican votes from the county alone outnumber Democratic votes from Pullman by almost a three-to-one margin. The Whitman County Democrats clearly can never expect to hold local office again if they keep running 24-year old candidates from Pullman. I'd look for some conservative farmer from Tekoa or Malden instead. Of course, when you have people running the Democratic party like the ones running it now, that ain't gonna happen.

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