There are two things wrong with this blog: first, I haven't updated every day, like I used to. Second, I seem to be get more and more wrapped up in political minutiae, despite my occasional efforts to the contrary.
So I have followed even further down my obsessive path by plotting the college graduation rates of every single county in five states: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, against Obama's results there. I did this because I had already done three of those states, and noticed a recurring pattern. So I wondered what would happen if all 197 of those counties were plotted against each other.
And the results were:
What this diagram shows to me is that in these five states, the politics are not quite as different as could be imagined. Living in a county with lots of college educated people will probably make you more liberal in Idaho, just as it will in Washington. The only difference is that Washington state has a lot more of those counties. Also, notice the three quadrants: there is only one county, Ada, Idaho, with over 30% of college graduates that went Republican. There are, however, lots of Obama counties that are under 30%.
For those not familiar with the multisplendored thing that is the geography of the Northwest, those outliers in the lower right all have interesting stories:
Big Horn, Montana: is on the Crow Indian reservation
Glacier, Montana: is on the Blackfoot Indian reservation
Deer Lodge, Montana: has been working class leftist for a 100 years ago. Full of the descendants of Irish miners. Along with the people in Silver Bow county, they invented the weekend and these counties have not voted Republican EVER.
Blaine, Montana: another reservation county
Lincoln, Clatsop and Columbia, Oregon: coastal counties. I don't know why the Oregon Coast, and the Washington Coast, tend so Democratic
Cowlitz, Pacific and Gray's Harbor, Washington: Another trio of working class, rural, coastal counties. Gray's Harbor is where Kurt Cobain came from.
Hood River, Oregon and Multnomah, Oregon: the power of HIPPIES. Multnomah is an interesting contrast with King: despite having less education, and less minorities, Obama did better than he did in King County, Washington.
Outliers on the other side of the map:
Okay, I lied about one thing. Idaho probably is more conservative than Oregon, Washington or (most of) Montana, even with its generally lower college rates. Consider Madison county, which has close to a 25% college graduation rate, but which Obama lost by a margin of 70%. This are is, as could be guessed, heavily populated by the Mormon ethnicity. In fact, I suspect that most of the counties that skew to the left on this diagram are probably heavily ethnically Mormon.
So now we know!