Why Bernie beat Hillary in Skagit and Island counties | KUOW News and Information

Why Bernie beat Hillary in Skagit and Island counties

May 25, 2016

Washington state’s presidential primary shows why Hillary Clinton is beating Bernie Sanders nationally, says one political analyst.

The reason can be found in a tale of two western Washingtons, said Reid Wilson, chief political correspondent with Morning Consult, a Washington D.C.-based publication.

Clinton’s stronghold was King County, Wilson told KUOW’s Emily Fox.

“It’s the most diverse in the state,” he said. “It has the highest percentage of African-Americans and Hispanic voters. Clinton won that county with 58 percent of the vote.”

Farther north it was a different story.

“On the other hand, Bernie Sanders won Whatcom County, up in Bellingham, San Juan County,” Wilson said. “These are counties that are much more liberal and much more white.

“That is the Bernie Sanders coalition. But Clinton has been drawing from the broad base of what you think of as the Democratic coalition: minority voters, union workers, older voters especially.”

Of course, Clinton’s victory was symbolic. Democrats in Washington divvied up delegates to the party’s national convention months ago. And Sanders won most of them.

On the Republican side in Washington’s primary, Donald Trump got 76 percent of the vote.   

But then, he's the only GOP candidate officially left in the race. Ted Cruz dropped out weeks ago, though his supporters dominated the party's state convention last week.

Still, Wilson said, there’s a lesson from the state’s primary for the GOP too.

“It shows that the Republican Party is largely coalescing behind a candidate that they really didn’t want to embrace at the beginning of this contest,” he said.

It also puts the Republican moderates in this state in a difficult spot.

“Senate candidate Chris Vance, gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant, they’re going to have to answer for the person at the top of the ticket,” Wilson said.

“And this is something that Republicans around the country are really concerned about: How do you do this delicate dance between either embracing a candidate who is so controversial, like Donald Trump, or distancing yourself at a time when more voters are voting straight ticket – they’re voting either all Democratic or all Republican.”

Trump has promised to win Washington state, no matter whom the Democrats nominate.

One indication that there might be a problem with that: In the first ballot count Tuesday night, the Democrats' turnout was far higher than the Republicans', about 661,000 to about 487,000.

State election officials said about 31 percent of registered voters turned in ballots by Tuesday evening.