Posted by: sweeneyblog | November 16, 2011

Election Analysis: Brief Thoughts on the Mayoral Race

Hello Loyal Readers,

Here’s my first stab at decoding the election results. First, some caveats, the election results are not finalized yet, but I’m using the most recent numbers which look relatively stable. Second, all we have are numbers. What I mean by that is we can look at how people voted, but unless your name is Professor Xavier, you cannot see inside their heads to why they voted the way they did. We can theorize, and support those theories with the data we have, but in the end, they remain glorified speculation.

But in my case, it is speculation with giant color maps.

Map from Bellingham Herald

When I sat down to do my electoral analysis, I was delighted by the variety of races we have available to us. We have a conservative on conservative battle with Louws/Ericksen, a strong Dem in the county versus a hardcore conservative that does well in Bellingham with Kremen/Larson, and a straight forward Dem versus GOP in Maginnis/Crawford. Look for breakdowns of those races in the next couple of days.

I know many people are looking for analysis on the Mayor’s race, but I’m not sure how much I can add to the conversation. It was closer than I expected. The general math was that Kelli and Dan split the Democrats and Kelli picks up all the conservative votes which means she wins 60-40. Dan Pike, to counter-act this doomsday scenario launched an aggressively negative campaign (see some of my coverage of that here and here) towards Kelli Linville in an attempt to eat away at her Democratic vote, and it seemed to work. Assuming conservatives voted pretty heavily for Linville, it means that Pike scooped up about 60-65% of the Democratic vote to bring it this close.

As for the geographic split, it looks like Kelli took the North and East while Pike took the downtown core and Fairhaven. Or as Shane Roth adroitly noted during the primary, all the precincts next to the train tracks. You could draw the conclusion that for voters who’s biggest concern was the Coal Train, Pike was their candidate. For voters who had more diverse concerns, they voted Linville. But again, I’m no mind reader.

You could theorize, as the Herald did, that the northern sections of Bellingham, and those areas around the lake are more conservative, therefore they favored Linville. However, Edgemoor (244, 245) both tend to be conservative on local candidates yet they went for Pike. On the other hand, I know a great many die-hard liberals who voted for Linville, and a few conservatives that voted for Pike. So perhaps looking at this as a partisan lens is not the best idea.

Another diminsion is turnout. Washington Conservation Voters made a big effort to turn out new or sometimes voters for this election. Most of those irregular voters come from WWU Campus, Happy Valley and Downtown where students, and young folk live. These voters came out for Pike, pushing those areas more heavily in his direction.

That is really all I have on this race. Stay tuned for my post on the Louws/Ericksen race and the search for “moderate republicans” . . .



  1. […] Doug Ericksen was counting on two factors for his election. First, he was taking a page from Dan Pike’s strategy, or visa versa, and eating into Louws’ conservative support. He sent out a number of negative […]

  2. I-5 divides Bellingham in a very mechanical way that I think deserves more analysis and attention. Not only is the eastern half of Bellingham in a different zip code than the western portion (which perhaps has some influence on mailers), but topography and city services are very different with the eastern half being much less “walkable” than the western half.

    Are eastern sections more difficult to doorbell? Possibly, but clearly the eastern and northern sections of the city are more dependent on the “car culture” and the conservative leanings that “culture” invites.

    Probably more powerfully, those are newer sections of the city, so perhaps there is a demographic/income component different from those seen in the affluent, highly educated, rooted professionals around the university and south.

  3. I concur with Tim. It was less about being near the water or train tracks, and more about the dense urban neighborhood that is landlocked by the i-5, differing from the more suburban area that must penetrate the i-5 curtain if they seek a downtown latte.

  4. I think it would be useful to look at the map in gradation rather than as solids. As Natalie McClendon points out well – these aren’t electoral college votes. 51% in one precinct is different from 75% in another and it helps to see the percentages.

    And Riley, that would also give you more time coloring the map…so there’s more fun to be had!

    • Very true. After I finish with the County Council, I’ll swing back to the city analysis.

  5. […] For several years, she was the state representative from the 42nd District, however the Tea Party wave in 2010 allowed newcomer (and rock-collecting enthusiast) Vincent Buys to oust Linville. Rather than simply return to her antique furniture business, Linville decided to run for Mayor of Bellingham barely edging past incumbent Dan Pike in a campaign that can at best be described as brutal. […]

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