Even in the liberal strongholds of Seattle and King County, communities like Judkins Park in Seattle and Vashon Island stand out for lefty leanings, according to a study of donations. And the most “conservative” areas, like Clyde Hill on the Eastside, are middle-of-the-road.
Seattle may be a liberal bubble — but even the bubble’s got bubbles.
Crowdpac, a startup that uses campaign-contribution data to measure the ideology of national, state and local political candidates, produced a ranking of Seattle neighborhoods by the political leanings of their residents. And while, naturally, almost everywhere in Seattle is left of center, some neighborhoods stand out from the pack.
There are some surprises.
For example, you might have picked Capitol Hill or parts of North Seattle as the city’s most staunchly liberal strongholds. But based on the data, the ultimate bubble-within-a bubble is Judkins Park, which is just south of the Central District — and, apparently, left of everywhere.
The neighborhoods are ranked on a scale from zero to 10, in either direction — a place can have either a liberal or conservative ranking of up to 10.
Judkins Park scored a nearly flawless liberal ranking of 9.5.
To determine the rankings, Crowdpac followed the money. They scored every contribution made to political candidates and ballot measures since 2008 on their liberal-to-conservative scale. The more liberal the candidate or cause, the higher the liberal score assigned to that contribution.
To score as high as Judkins Park, neighborhood residents would have to donate money almost exclusively to strongly progressive politicians and causes.
Granted, that’s not all that hard to do in Seattle. Some of our local politicians have liberal rankings that are off the charts. While Crowdpac scores the vast majority of candidates within a zero to 10 range, Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant registers a whopping 12.0 on the liberal scale. Pramila Jayapal, the newly elected representative from Washington’s 7th Congressional District, scored one point higher.
After Judkins Park, the city’s next most liberal neighborhood is also in South Seattle: Columbia City. Rounding out the top three is North Delridge in West Seattle.
North Seattle does include some pockets of deep, deep blue: The University District, Greenwood and Bitter Lake all rank near the top.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Seattle’s most conservative neighborhood by far is — no surprise — Broadmoor, the city’s only gated, golf-course community. Neighboring Madison Park and Denny-Blaine come in a distant second and third, in that order.
In general, the most conservative parts of the city are some of the wealthiest — but also include, more surprisingly, the downtown neighborhoods. Pioneer Square is slightly more conservative than Laurelhurst in the rankings.
But it’s all relative. Even Broadmoor is only conservative by Seattle standards. In fact, that neighborhood still came out slightly liberal in Crowdpac’s analysis, with a score of 2.5 on the liberal side.
“Basically that means you’re giving even-handedly — about an equal number of donations to moderate and conservative as to Democrat,” said Mason Harrison, Crowdpac’s communications director. “It probably skews slightly left because there are so many more Democratic small-dollar donors.”
Crowdpac’s algorithm doesn’t take into account the size of the donation. Large and small contributions count equally.
Overall, Seattle has a very high liberal score of 7.7 out of a possible 10. Among U.S. communities with at least 250,000 residents, that ranks as third behind Oakland, Calif. And Brooklyn, N.Y.
Seattle looks quite a bit more liberal than it did in Crowdpac’s previous rankings from over a year ago, when Seattle scored a 5.0. You can call it the Bernie effect.
“Bernie Sanders raised so much money, it really changed the rankings overall,” Harrison said. “He brought so many new data points into the system by bringing in so many new donors.”
As I reported last year during the Democratic primaries, among major U.S. cities, Seattle registered the highest number of donations per capita to the left-leaning Vermont senator.
The most conservative place in the Seattle area is exclusive Clyde Hill on the Eastside — but with a score of 1.3 on the liberal scale, it’s really more middle-of-the-road politically. While there are places in Washington that rank as truly conservative in Crowdpac’s data, you have to cross the mountains to find them.
And as progressive as Seattle is, we still rank No. 2 in King County behind — where else? — Vashon Island, which scored 8.0 on the liberal scale.
But in an upset that’s sure to cause some hand-wringing among islanders, Vashon is not the most liberal place in Washington in the latest rankings.
Can you guess who’s No. 1?
With a score of 8.1, the title goes to Port Townsend.