What the election tells us about local politics


Posted by on Sun, January 4, 2009

Charts by Barry Parr
Use the arrows to navigate through the six slides in the deck.

We did an analysis of the 2008 vote on the Coastside to see what it could tell us about the politics of our community. We looked at three votes: for president, for Assembly District 19, and on Proposition 8 outlawing same-sex marriage.

The presidential election was about as non-partisan as could have been, with all but the hard core Republicans voting for Obama, but locally it does give you some idea of where the hard core lives.

I know less about state elections, but our assembly election should probably be considered a relatively partisan contest.  Most voters don’t know the candidates and in San Mateo County, the Democratic primary usually decides who gets the seat.

Finally, Proposition 8 yielded the most interesting information on the social attitudes of our neighbors.

You can click on the arrows in the lower right of each slide to view all six charts. The charts use Quicktime, so if you have problems, I recommend upgrading to the latest version. I’ve checked this on Mac and Windows XP versions of Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. But if you’re having difficulties using Internet Explorer I recommend installing Firefox.

  • The Coastside is still more liberal the further north you go.  Excluding third-party votes, 80% of Montarans voted for Obama, compared to 72% of Half Moon Bay residents. [Slide 1]
  • Half Moon Bay is a little more Republican than San Mateo County as a whole. It was a little more in favor of McCain, and a little more in favor of Republican assembly candidate Catherine Brinkman than the rest of San Mateo County. [Slides 1 & 2]
  • The Coastside is more socially liberal than the rest of the county. While 71% of the Coastside (and 66% of Half Moon Bay) voted down Proposition 8, 62% of San Mateo County voted against banning same-sex marriages. [Slide 3]
  • The heaviest concentration of Republican voters in Half Moon Bay is in Ocean Colony. While most HMB neighborhoods voted as heavily for Jerry Hill and Barack Obama as the rest of the Coastside or the County, only 61% of Ocean Colony voted for Obama, versus 75% of the Coastside. [Slides 4 & 5]
  • Even the most Republican precinct on the Coastside heavily favored Obama, of course. As Mike Ferreira noted on the Midcoast List: "Ocean Colony is the big surprise. Once it was the only Republican majority precinct on the Coastside. Now it’s the only Republican plurality (barely) precinct. The Ocean Colony registration breakdown is [36% Democratic and 38% Republican]"
  • Ocean Colony appears to be as socially liberal as the rest of the Half Moon Bay and only a little behind the rest of the Coastside, with 64% of votes going against Proposition 8. [Slide 6]

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reversed the county-wide vote on Proposition 8.  San Mateo County voted 62% against banning same-sex marriage.

This analysis will be the basis for later work in the 2009 election season, as well as some pieces I have in mind about the LAFCO recommendations regarding Coastside government.  I have a few other ideas for stories and analysis on local politics as well.

Hi Barry,

What is surprising is that the Coastside is so homogenious in its votong patterns. In fact the Coastside matches the County average pretty closely.

I trust that the county is not nearly as uniform as the Coastside.

That’s an interesting point.  San Mateo County varies dramatically from Daly City to Burlingame to Foster City to East Palo Alto.

It’s good to remember that for all our perceived differences locally, we’re not really that different.

Comment 4
Mon, January 5, 2009 8:41pm
Carl May
All my comments

This was not a good election for pointing out our differences from the South Coast up through Pacifica. Lots of people who practically come to blows on local issues ended up voting the same way on state and national candidates and issues. In other words, there were not choices on the ballot that differentiated among us.

It’s a lot of work, but it can sometimes be interesting to see the precinct breakdown for EG, Moss Beach, and Montara as it was done for Half Moon Bay. Also, a lot of us in Moss Beach and Montara are closer to and have more business with Pacifica than Half Moon Bay, so the next city to the north might be worth adding to some comparisons.