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Geographer sees “two Washingtons” in Referendum 71 results

Post by David Wickert on Jan. 4, 2010 at 2:25 pm | 4 Comments »
January 5, 2010 1:59 pm

Richard Morrill, a professor emeritus of geography at the University of Washington, has published an interesting look at the results of Referendum 71, which expands rights of domestic partners. The measure passed in November.

Morrill’s study, (you can read it here), examines election returns by census tract, showing where the referendum passed, where it failed and by what margin. Not surprisingly, the measure found its greatest support in Seattle. Other core urban areas – including parts of Tacoma and Olympia – also gave the referendum overwhelming support.

What’s striking is the contrast between Seattle and the rest of the state. According to Morrill, voters in census tracts covering 85 percent of the state’s territory voted against Referendum 71. Even in Western Washington, voters in 70 percent of the territory opposed the measure.

“If anyone were to doubt that there really are two Washingtons, that the Seattle metropolitan core (and its playgrounds) are another world from most rural to small city Washington (especially east of the Cascade crest), a look at the maps for the vote on Referendum 71 last November should be persuasive,” Morrill writes. “These are not subtle, marginal differences, but indisputable polarization in what political and cultural researchers may call the modernist-traditional divide.”

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