Island County Voting

Recall the old adage; “Don’t talk about politics, religion, or sex.” Good idea; but to pretend no one talks about politics on Whidbey Island is to pretend that Whidbey Island hasn’t been part of 2020. We can save religion and sex for later. (And if that sounds like a straight line to you, congratulate yourself on maintaining a sense of humor during Covid.) When it comes to politics, Whidbey Island can confuse many people, including islanders. After looking at the data, it is apparent that the island’s politics averages out to about something in the middle – as strange as that can seem.

Most of the data in this post was found on the Island County government’s Elections web site. Keep in mind that Whidbey Island is only a part of Island County. Camano Island is also important.

To start, Island County voters care, a lot. The nation hit new records thanks to a voter turnout of about 66%. Island County voters were busier, over 85%. Out of a population of about 85,000 people, over 63,000 are registered, and almost 54,000 of them voted. That’s being involved! There may be great differences (or small differences amplified to seem big) between various political parties, but all sides have something in common – they vote. They participate. There are so many political signs in some neighborhoods that it’s hard to see if there are For Sale signs, signs for Day Care centers, or even just decorative flags that have no political affiliation. People care.

People caring is also why manners get worn down. It is easy to go along within a close group of friends for years, and only every four years find out that everyone isn’t a clone and that there are other opinions out there. This is nothing new. As mentioned in previous blogs, except for folks how are relocated here by other organizations, another thing islanders can have in common is coming to the island to be able to live the life they want, to possibly get away from the mainland’s conventions. To live intentionally. To be reminded that islanders are a diverse group can be a surprise.

Going into the details about individual races and initiatives deserves the professionalism of an unaffiliated, independent political scientist. Good luck finding them. They must exist.

Island County Cumulative Results Report (pdf)

There are some generalities, though. Almost every elected position and initiative was won with a bit more than 50% of the vote, with the other side getting about 40% of the vote. There are few cases where the winner had more than 60% and the loser had 30% or less. Despite having many things in common, there’s almost nothing everyone agrees on. Whatever your position, someone has the opposite idea. Whatever your position, probably someone agrees with you.

That’s Whidbey (or at least Island County.) That’s normal. The country’s that way, too.

It is hard to find data about the extremes, but this is also an island of protests at either end of the spectrum, and that the spectrum has more than two dimensions. Folks going off-grid might be preparing for an apocalypse or might be trying minimize their impact on the planet or both. People might want to distance themselves from federal government because it is too conservative or too liberal. Pick an issue and find folks on either extreme. Ironically, sometimes those extreme manage to wrap around to join the other extreme, through infinity and beyond, surprisingly finding common ground.

For folks who care deeply about politics and who are trying to find a neighborhood where they’ll fit in, this has been the season to see politics on display, literally. The signs are coming down. It may take months, but we’ll get back to some new normal (at least politically.) And then, in three years we’ll start the whole thing over again.

In the meantime, is this a red island or a blue island? It’s much closer to purple, though if Nature gets a vote, it’s probably more appropriate to call it green.

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