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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
|Fairfield (Town)||17,236||56.9||13,071||43.1||Fairfield County|
|New Canaan||5,187||46.9||5,877||53.1||Fairfield County|
|North Oaks||1,385||43.7||1,786||56.3||St. Paul|
|Sunfish Lake||158||41.8||220||58.2||St. Paul|