Elec­tion Day is now only forty-eight hours away! Have you vot­ed yet? If not, remem­ber to cast your bal­lot. Today would be a good day to sit down and go through the voter’s pam­phlet and read the argu­ments for and against this year’s crop of bal­lot mea­sures, if you haven’t already.

NPI rec­om­mends a NO vote on Ini­tia­tives 1125 and 1183, and a YES vote on Ini­tia­tive 1163. We also urge you to APPROVE HJR 8205 and REJECT HJR 8206.

Now, for some elec­tion trivia.

As any­one who reg­u­lar­ly reads The Advo­cate knows, statewide elec­tions in Wash­ing­ton are typ­i­cal­ly decid­ed by a hand­ful of swing coun­ties locat­ed around the state. These include Sno­homish, Kit­sap, Thurston, Spokane, What­com, Skag­it, Pierce, and some­times Clark. If sev­er­al of these coun­ties side with King Coun­ty in a major elec­tion, the out­come is like­ly to be a pro­gres­sive victory.

If, on the oth­er hand, almost no swing coun­ties are aligned with King, the out­come is like­ly to be a con­ser­v­a­tive victory.

So it is very impor­tant that Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates and pro­gres­sive bal­lot coali­tions cam­paign statewide and place a par­tic­u­lar empha­sis on vot­er edu­ca­tion and out­reach out­side of King County.

We’ve heard King Coun­ty rou­tine­ly described as the state’s most reli­ably Demo­c­ra­t­ic or pro­gres­sive coun­ty. And that char­ac­ter­i­za­tion seem­ing­ly make sense — King is the state’s most pop­u­lous coun­ty, and it is home to Seat­tle, which is one of the most lib­er­al and pro­gres­sive cities in the Unit­ed States.

But there’s actu­al­ly a coun­ty that votes more pro­gres­sive­ly than King does. It does­n’t con­tain a lib­er­al urban cen­ter like Seat­tle, so it does­n’t exert the kind of influ­ence that King (or even Seat­tle on its own) does on a statewide election.

But its vot­ers are role mod­els nonethe­less. If Wash­ing­ton con­sis­tent­ly fol­lowed their exam­ple, it would be in much bet­ter shape than it is now.

This coun­ty has a total pop­u­la­tion of 15,769 peo­ple accord­ing to the last cen­sus. Its total land area is six hun­dred and twen­ty-one miles. On a map, it looks like this:

San Juan Islands

San Juan is, far and away, Wash­ing­ton’s most pro­gres­sive county.

This fac­toid alone should make it abun­dant­ly clear how pro­gres­sive San Juan Islanders are: They have only passed a Tim Eyman mea­sure once. No oth­er coun­ty in Wash­ing­ton State can say that.

San Juan has vot­ed down I‑695, I‑722, I‑745, I‑776, I‑892, I‑900, I‑960, I‑985, I‑1033, and I‑1053. The only mea­sure Eyman has been able to get past San Juan vot­ers was I‑747 in 2001. And the out­come of that elec­tion was close… less than one hun­dred votes. If San Juan says no to I‑1125, it will be the eleventh time its res­i­dents will have vot­ed down an ill-con­ceived Eyman measure.

San Juan was also the only coun­ty that passed I‑1098 last year. (I‑1098 sought to impose an income tax on high-earn­ers). And it refused to be bought off by the bev­er­age indus­try, reject­ing I‑1107 by a com­fort­able margin.

What’s more, San Juan con­sis­tent­ly goes for Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates by large mar­gins. Pat­ty Mur­ray received 65% of the islands’ vote last year. Rick Larsen did even bet­ter at 66%. In 2008, San Juan gave Barack Oba­ma 70% of the vote.

Even Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates who don’t win any­where else tend to win in San Juan. In 2008, for instance, the islands pre­ferred Demo­c­rat Jason Osgood over Repub­li­can Sam Reed. (Reed hand­i­ly beat Osgood statewide).

So, read­ers: If you’re look­ing for a deserv­ing place with­in Wash­ing­ton to spend your vaca­tion dol­lars, con­sid­er tak­ing the fer­ry over to one of the San Juan Islands and spend­ing a night or two there. Check out Mount Con­sti­tu­tion on Orcas, go for a bike ride on Lopez, or explore the water­front in Fri­day Harbor.

And feel free to strike up a con­ver­sa­tion about pol­i­tics with a res­i­dent. Chances are good the per­son you choose to talk to is going to be a progressive.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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4 replies on “Election trivia: Which of Washington’s thirty-nine counties is the most progressive?”

    1. Thurston is a key swing coun­ty. Along with Sno­homish and Kit­sap, it can make the dif­fer­ence for Democ­rats in a close statewide elec­tion. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic strong­holds are King and San Juan, and for bal­lot mea­sures, Whit­man as well.

  1. Come over and spend a night in San Juan, and spend your time and mon­ey there, because they are ‘deserv­ing’ for their ‘pro­gres­sive’ pol­i­tics? Course, by infer­ence, those who dis­agree are nat­u­ral­ly ‘unde­serv­ing’ or ‘less’ deserv­ing’ of your hard earned mon­ey? Deserve sug­gests hon­or, trib­ute for some­thing well done. That does­n’t appear ter­ri­bly com­mu­nal or ‘shar­ing’ now. Its a reward con­cept. Rather ‘unpro­gres­sive’, back­wards, don’t you think? It would make more sense to go to the least pro­gres­sive and ‘redis­trib­ute’ your reward, no?

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