Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Winning Democratic campaigns must look outside of King County for votes

A little earlier today the Secretary of State's office sent out a memo to the press with a table showing an up to date count of the registered voters in Washington State. As of August 8th, there are 3,415,077 people registered to vote, out of an estimated total population of 6,468,424 (so a little less than half).

As you might suspect, most registered voters live in a county with a significant urban area. King (Seattle), Pierce (Tacoma), Snohomish (Everett), Spokane, and Clark (Vancouver) are the five counties with the most registered voters.

The following map shows the state broken apart, with higher density counties shown with larger proportions than more rural ones.

Washington State Counties with More than 50,000 Registered Voters

Democrats and progressives working on statewide campaigns should observe that the state's most reliable Republican counties are shown at the original scale (in light turquoise) on the map. Collectively they comprise only 17% of registered voters, - which is less than King County alone.

While King may have more weight than all of those combined rural counties, what it doesn't have is a majority of the state's registered voters. Just over half of civic-minded Washingtonians live somewhere besides King (which is strongly Democratic) or those rural counties (which are strongly Republican).

Counties that will make the difference to a winning statewide campaign include Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane, Clark, Kitsap, Thurston, Whatcom, Yakima, Benton, Skagit, and Cowlitz. In addition, it should be noted that several counties in the turquoise bloc (particularly Whitman, Grays Harbor, and Walla Walla) are potential pickup opportunities for the most organized Democratic campaigns.

The takeaway from this map is that a statewide campaign really does need to be run statewide. Spending lavish sums of money on television ads or direct mail in King County at the expense of operating a field effort in swing counties is a grave mistake. Campaigns that creatively allocate as many resources as possible outside of King County will enjoy a great return on their investment.


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