Saturday, October 20, 2012

How Does Kalamazoo County Lean?

The Gazette has an article analyzing Kalamazoo's electoral lean. I looked at this issue in a recent post, where I also noted that Kalamazoo leans more Republican at the local level, and offered some thoughts on why.

Why is Southwest Michigan More Republican at the Local Level?

Southwest Michigan Politics: What party does Kalamazoo County lean toward?
In four of the last five presidential elections, Kalamazoo County has voted for a Democrat for president. But in countywide races for sheriff, prosecuting attorney, drain commissioner, clerk and treasurer, Republicans have won 22 of the 25 seats and Democrats just three in those elections.

Here is a chart that looks at how Kalamazoo County went for president, as well as how it voted for the countywide seats.

The 2000 election was the first time in recent memory in Kalamazoo County that Democrats had candidates run for all the countywide seats, besides surveyor, which is a part-time job and the candidate has to be a registered surveyor. Twelve years ago, Democrat presidential candidate Al Gore won the county by some 500 votes and a Democrat, Mary Powers, won drain commissioner. But, Republican candidates won countywide races by an average of 49,254 to 41,807 votes.

One reason for the strong Republican hold is that many of the Republicans who have run for office in Kalamazoo County have been long-time incumbents. And Democrats often have not had candidates run for many seats. In 1992, when Democrat Bill Clinton won Kalamazoo County with 52 percent of the vote, Democrats didn’t put up candidates for county prosecutor, clerk, treasurer or drain commissioner.
This comment by Mark Miller, the dems 6th district chairman, is also worthwhile.
For some years now, I have been keeping detailed statistics on Kalamazoo County elections. I calculate what I call the "Partisan Index", which is simply the average of the Dem% - Rep% across all county-wide or higher races for that year. So it includes Pres., US Sen., US Rep., Gov., SoS, Att Gen, MI Sen., countywide offices (but not the Educarion Boards, which are lower profile). So a negative number means the balance is towards the Republicans, positive towards the Democrats.

Recent results: 2002 -8%, 2004 -11%, 2006 -2%, 2008 +6%, 2010 -14%.

These are influenced strongly by Fred Upton's strong results (so far). But it does give an easy to understand single variable to compare across elections.

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