I remember in the days and weeks following the 2008 election poring over the county-level results on the New York Times’ interactive election map. It was pretty impressive stuff for the late aughts. It allowed you to compare how each county had voted in the four prior elections (going back to ’92). In Wisconsin, where I lived at the time, Obama carried 60 of its 72 counties, seemingly making a mockery of its status as a “swing state.” Despite all of the racially-tinged vitriol that had emerged during the campaign (remember Sarah Palin?), the first black major-party nominee performed better than any recent Democratic nominee could have expected. He carried Indiana for Chrissake!
Suffice it to say, I felt less motivation in the days and weeks following the 2016 election to pore over the results. But now that we’re more than 18 months removed from that fateful, sleepless night, I’m prepared to digest the cold, hard truth. Luckily the NYT recently came out with this awesome map of every precinct –– an unprecedented level of analysis.
The good news is that I don’t live in Wisconsin anymore. I live in Texas, where things are actually trending in the right direction. Trump only won the Lone Star State by 9 points, down from Mitt Romney’s 16 point margin in 2012.
The GOP’s decline in Texas is almost entirely due to their loss of ground in the state’s major metro areas. In another post, we’ll take a look at those other cities, but for now let’s focus on Austin. Here’s the precinct-by-precinct map of the election results.
In 2012, Obama got 60.2% of the vote in Travis County to Romney’s 36.2%. In 2016, Clinton got 65.8% and Trump came away with only 27.1%.
From the looks of it, Trump did not carry one precinct that was wholly located in the city of Austin. One of those two islands of pink that you see in the west is located in West Lake Hills. The other one appears to mostly consist of a bunch of wealthy subdivisions located outside of the city, although I think part of that precinct is located in the city.
The map shows, unsurprisingly, that Clinton performed best in East Austin precincts. She got 90% in three of the largest precincts east of downtown and north of the river, all of which are characterized as majority black/Latino but with a steadily rising population of white gentrifiers.
Perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, Clinton did not do so well downtown. Only about 3,000 votes were cast in the main downtown precinct (not that many people live there), but Trump came away with 26% of that vote.
I’m sure that Trump did not do nearly as well as Romney did in the wealthiest West Austin neighborhoods (Tarrytown, Old West Austin etc), but there were still enough country club Republicans to keep the precincts only light blue. It was a tight race in West Lake.
The Central Austin neighborhoods both north and south of the river were solidly Democratic; Hillary carried more than 80 percent in most of them. As you get out closer to the edges of town, things start to get lighter blue.
Correction: This post was updated to correct an embarrassing typo in the headline. Thank you to Chronicle reporter Michael King for suggesting that I correct my headline. Thank you to Bill Childs for helping me understand what King was talking about.