How a Sampling of Wealthy Suburbs Voted: Obama vs. McCain

How a Sampling of Wealthy Suburbs Voted: Obama vs. McCain

Ferreting out election returns at the local level is fraught with difficulty as very few states publish the results on the web and the geography of precincts and boxes often is different from municipal boundaries. The five states that are in the table below consisted of three states that publish on the web (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Connecticut). The Alabama numbers are from the published results in the Birmingham News of November 6, 2008. The data for the Boston suburbs was culled from the Boston.com website.

I have eliminated the minor candidates from the percentages as they had insignificant vote totals.

It is hard to generalize from this small sample of wealthy suburbs as four of the states that I found records of the vote at the city or town level voted heavily for Barack Obama. Of course Alabama voted heavily for John McCain and the following table certainly illustrates the vast difference in how elites vote in a hardcore Liberal state such as Massachusetts, one medium Liberal state (Connecticut), and two barely still Liberal states (Wisconsin and Minnesota); and one very very Conservative state. Alabama, of course.

If anyone out there can help me find some more election results at the local level, please get in touch with me as several of my readers have asked about political voting patterns. I’d particularly be interested in seeing some results from some more Conservative areas such as Texas or Kansas or Oklahoma.

Alabama

I have tallied five wealthy areas of Birmingham, Alabama and the statistics show that the elites of Birmingham were strong McCain supporters. Although the boundaries of the voting areas may not be an exact match with municipal boundaries, the returns show McCain favored by an approximate 4 to 1 margin. In the aftermath of the election, the national media bandied about the fact that  White Alabamians voted Republican 10-1 and although that may be true of some boxes (as Alabamians call their precincts), it is not strictly true in the Birmingham area. The margins in the all White suburbs of Birmingham ranged from 10-1 in the some of the more rural areas of Jefferson County to 2-1 and 3-1 in more affluent suburban boxes.

One of the City of Birmingham’s few affluent neighborhoods, Forest Park voted for Barack Obama by a margin of 59.7% to 40.3%. However, the box in question also contains voters from neighborhoods other than Forest Park and therefore it is not clear how this lovely gentrified neighborhood actually voted. Forest Park residents make up the majority of the votes in this precinct and certainly show a vastly different voting pattern than one finds in the suburbs.

Connecticut

The table below shows the election returns from 3 affluent towns outside of Hartford and 9 wealthy suburbs of New York City in Fairfield County. Only two of Connecticut’s wealthiest towns voted for McCain. New Canaan (53.1% McCain) and Darien (54.6%) gave the Republicans a rare victory. In a change of pace from many recent elections, Greenwich, the epicenter of hedge funds and splashy wealth along Blue Blood estates, voted for Barack Obama (53.8%). Westport, a suburb well know for its arts scene and culture vultures, was an outlier as Obama took a healthy 65.3% of the vote. Only the much more socio-economically diverse and larger suburb of West Hartford gave President Obama a greater margin of victory (70.2%). As West Hartford is an older suburb, it’s voting pattern is consistent with the fact that the inner suburbs, even the most affluent, are trending Democratic.

Massachusetts

The 22 elite suburbs of Boston (plus Longmeadow of Springfield) exhibited a voting pattern that is consistent with a state that has one of the United States’ most Liberal voting records. With the exception of two small exurban towns that went for McCain (Boxford 53.2%; Dover 51.2%), Massachusetts’ wealthy voted heavily for Barack Obama.

The poster child for Liberalism with a capital L, Cambridge, voted for Obama by an almost 9-1 margin. Cambridge is a very large place with a 2007 American Community Survey population of 91,867. It is also neither uniformly wealthy nor Non-Hispanic White. African-Americans make up 12.6% of the population and Asians make up another 14.4%. There is only one very small Block Group in West Cambridge that is wealthy enough to make the Higley 1000, however, I include it for the interest of my readers.

Coming in second place for Democratic dominance is the diverse and densely populated town of Brookline (82.3% for Obama) and the adjacent suburb of Newton (76.4%, Obama). Newton is a very large and wealthy suburb of Boston that is well represented in the Higley 1000. The huge majorities rolled up by President Obama in some of Boston toniest suburbs are amazing. Examples of Barack Obama’s vote getting ability in very White places would be Lexington (73.8%) and Concord (71.8%). Even the much smaller and very exclusive Weston gave Barack Obama 61.3% of its vote.

Minnesota

The wealthy suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul have a much more varied voting pattern than the three states I have previously highlighted. Whereas the grand daddy of elite Minneapolis suburbs, Edina voted handily for Obama, the margin in the much newer adjacent suburb of Eden Prairie was much closer with Obama picking up a small 51.5% majority. The small St. Paul suburb of Birchwood is Obama-land as it gave 58.2 of its vote to our new President.

McCain did well in many of the Twin Cities smaller elite suburbs with his best showing in tiny Sunfish Lake (58.2%). McCain also did well in the St. Paul suburb of North Oaks (56.3%) and Minneapolis’ exurban Orono (57.4%). The charming town of Wayzata on Lake Minnetonka was a bit closer as it gave John McCain 52.1% of its vote.

Wisconsin

Without question, the elite of Wisconsin are the most split in their loyalties and the voting patterns are very interesting. The older Milwaukee suburbs along Lake Michigan: Bayside, Whitefish Bay, and Fox Point went decidedly for Obama whereas Mequon, a nouveaux riche exurb voted heavily for John McCain. River Hills, Milwaukee’s miniature version of Lake Forest or Greenwich went for McCain by a 53.5% to 46.5% margin. The fact that the three Milwaukee County lakefront suburbs went for Obama is most likely linked to heavily Democratic Jewish voting patterns although that possibility is mere speculation on my part.

The affluent suburbs west of Milwaukee are heavily Republican. Two tiny villages that are primarily collections of estates around scenic lakes, Chenequa and Oconomowoc Lake voted like Alabama as they gave 81.2% and 76.3% of their vote to John McCain. The fairly large suburb of Brookfield, with its endless nouveaux riche subdivisions, went strongly for McCain as he trounced Barack Obama 65.1% to 34.9%. The much more upscale and tasteful adjacent suburb of Elm Grove showed a similar result (64.5% McCain).

I have also included Wauwatosa, even though it is considerably lower on the socio-economic scale than the previously mentioned suburbs. It is my home town, so I know it well. It is uniformly lower and upper middle class (with an emphasis on lower middle). It voted consistently 2-1 Republican when I was growing up and times are a-changing.  Although Wauwatosa has one small neighborhood in the Higley 1000, the Washington Highlands, the vast majority of this fairly large city would not be considered elite by most people’s standards. The one thing that can’t be argued however is that it has certainly evolved into a much more liberal place than I remember. I was amazed to see Obama took my hometown with 53.1% of the vote. This is consistent with the previously mentioned tendency for the Liberal drift of inner suburbs found in other parts of the country.

Madison and Dane County have a well deserved reputation for being the most liberal place in Wisconsin and the two tiny elite suburbs that bracket the central city are illustrative of what drives that attitude. Shorewood Hills is adjacent to the University of Wisconsin’s campus and home to many professors. Shorewood Hills gave 86.8% of it’s votes to President Obama….  giving Cambridge, Massachusetts a run for it’s money.

Maple Bluff, located along the shores of Lake Mendota and home to the Governors mansion, which I remember as a Republican kind of place… went Democratic in this election giving Obama a solid 61.2% of the vote.

Here is the table from which the above narrative was derived.

Obama vs. McCain: 65 Suburban Vote Totals

  Obama % McCain % Locater
ALABAMA          
Mountain Brook 2,218 22.9 7,486 77.1 Birmingham
Forest Park 776 59.7 524 40.3 Birmingham
Greystone 520 18.1 2,352 81.9 Birmingham
Liberty Park 420 20.4 1,642 79.6 Birmingham
Shoal Creek 137 18.7 595 81.3 Birmingham
           
CONNECTICUT          
Avon 5,698 53.9 4,868 46.1 Hartford
Darien 4,943 45.4 5,949 54.6 Fairfield County
Fairfield (Town) 17,236 56.9 13,071 43.1 Fairfield County
Glastonbury 11,767 60.3 7,755 39.7 Hartford
Greenwich 16,233 53.8 13,937 46.2 Fairfield County
New Canaan 5,187 46.9 5,877 53.1 Fairfield County
Redding 3,245 58.3 2,319 41.7 Fairfield County
Ridgefield 7,480 52.4 6,786 47.6 Fairfield County
Weston 3,571 62.5 2,143 37.5 Fairfield County
West Hartford 23,576 70.2 10,021 29.8 Hartford
Westport 10,067 65.3 5,342 34.7 Fairfield County
Wilton 5,569 53.7 4,801 46.3 Fairfield County
           
MASSACHUSETTS          
Arlington 18,334 74.1 6,399 25.9 Boston
Belmont 9,354 70.2 3,968 29.8 Boston
Beverly 12,221 61.1 7,775 38.9 Boston
Boxford 2,275 46.8 2,582 53.2 Boston
Brookline 22,269 82.3 4,788 17.7 Boston
Cambridge 40,464 89.7 4,662 10.3 Boston
Carlisle 2,102 66.6 1,052 33.4 Boston
Concord 7,373 71.8 2,898 28.2 Boston
Dedham 7,104 57.0 5,361 43.0 Boston
Dover 1,638 48.5 1,738 51.5 Boston
Lexington 12,926 73.8 4,588 26.2 Boston
Longmeadow 5,501 58.3 3,937 41.7 Springfield
Manchester 2,037 61.3 1,286 38.7 Boston
Marblehead 7,499 61.7 4,653 38.3 Boston
Medfield 3,848 54.1 3,264 45.9 Boston
Milton 9,444 62.2 5,743 37.8 Boston
Needham 11,284 66.7 5,641 33.3 Boston
Newton 33,075 76.4 10,208 23.6 Boston
Sherborn 1,603 60.9 1,028 39.1 Boston
Sudbury 6,392 64.4 3,538 35.6 Boston
Wayland 5,474 68.9 2,470 31.1 Boston
Wellesley 9,060 65.3 4,818 34.7 Boston
Weston 3,866 61.3 2,440 38.7 Boston
Winchester 7,337 60.3 4,834 39.7 Boston
           
MINNESOTA          
Birchwood 378 58.2 272 41.8 St. Paul
Deephaven 1,261 50.9 1,215 49.1 Minneapolis
Eden Prairie 18,264 51.5 17,186 48.5 Minneapolis
Edina 17,399 55.9 13,699 44.1 Minneapolis
Greenwood 245 44.5 305 55.5 Minneapolis
Minnetonka Beach 164 42.6 221 57.4 Minneapolis
North Oaks 1,385 43.7 1,786 56.3 St. Paul
Orono 2,073 42.6 2,788 57.4 Minneapolis
Sunfish Lake 158 41.8 220 58.2 St. Paul
Wayzata 1,183 47.9 1,286 52.1 Minneapolis
           
WISCONSIN          
Bayside 1,747 61.4 1,100 38.6 Milwaukee
Brookfield 8,703 34.9 16,233 65.1 Milwaukee
Chenequa 71 18.8 307 81.2 Milwaukee
Elm Grove 1,489 35.5 2,701 64.5 Milwaukee
Fox Point 2,573 56.9 1,945 43.1 Milwaukee
Maple Bluff 614 61.2 389 38.8 Madison
Mequon 5,796 39.2 8,979 60.8 Milwaukee
North Bay 83 47.2 93 52.8 Racine
Oconomowoc Lake 94 23.7 303 76.3 Milwaukee
River Hills 536 46.5 617 53.5 Milwaukee
Shorewood Hills 1,032 86.8 157 13.2 Madison
Wauwatosa 15,573 53.1 13,728 46.9 Milwaukee
Whitefish Bay 5,088 56.5 3,920 43.5 Milwaukee
Wind Point 557 43.1 736 56.9 Racine

Posted in General, Uncategorized on Jan 15th, 2007, 10:05 am by Stephen Higley   

3 Responses to “How a Sampling of Wealthy Suburbs Voted: Obama vs. McCain”

  1. Hank
    January 29th, 2009 | 9:34 pm

    I found it very interesting that more than one in five Mountain Brook residents who voted in the election voted for Barack Obama. Okay, sure, McCain overwhelmingly dominated the votes in Mountain Brook, but I still am surprised that even 22 % voted for Obama. Mountain Brook appears to not be as conservative as I thought.

  2. J.P.
    September 15th, 2009 | 3:46 pm

    Eliminating the third-party vote totals is completely disingenuous and undermines this site’s credibility. You need not print out their percentages, but these numbers should not all be adding up to 100%.

  3. Stephen Higley
    September 29th, 2009 | 8:13 am

    The number of third party votes in the most recent election were so small that they were irrelevant.

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