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Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

June 20, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Is Seattle less liberal than you thought?

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Between approving a $15 minimum wage plan and electing a socialist to our City Council, Seattle has been hogging the national spotlight when it comes to progressive issues lately.

How could there be anywhere more liberal than Seattle?

It turns out Seattle’s most liberal ZIP code doesn’t even crack the top 300 in the nation, according to a new ranking of U.S. ZIP codes by their residents’ political leanings.

In fact, you’ll even find ZIP codes that out-liberal Seattle in — are you sitting down? — Alabama and Oklahoma.

The rankings come from Clarity Campaign Labs, a Washington, D.C.-based startup that provides data, analytics and strategy for Democratic campaigns.

Analysts there conducted an extensive computer-modeling project based on tens of thousands of interviews collected nationwide, which were supplemented with other data sources. Respondents were asked five questions designed to determine their political affiliation and their views on some hot-button topics: gun control, abortion, the environment and taxes.

Based on answers to these questions, Washington’s most liberal ZIP code is, not surprisingly, here in Seattle: 98122, which covers the Central District, Madrona and the southern edge of Capitol Hill.

Compared with all other ZIP codes in the United States, 98122 ranks as the 338th most liberal. When you consider that there are more than 40,000 ZIP codes, that’s a pretty strong showing. But still — just 338th?

And even more surprising, there are 26 states with at least one ZIP code that is more liberal than 98122, including Alabama’s 35896 (Huntsville) and Oklahoma’s 73050 (Langston, near Oklahoma City). Ouch.

23rd and Union in 98122, Seattle's most liberal ZIP code (Photo: Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)

E. Union Street in Seattle’s 98122, the most liberal ZIP code in Washington (Photo: Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)

According to the study, the nation’s most liberal ZIP code is 10025, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It scored more liberal than Seattle’s 98122 on all five questions.

To find our state’s most conservative ZIP code, head over the mountains, of course.

Though it turns out Eastern Washington isn’t as conservative as you might have thought, either. Forty states have a ZIP code more conservative than Washington’s high-scoring 99101, located in the town of Addy in Stevens County.

Compared with Doon, Iowa’s 51235 — the most conservative ZIP code in the country — Addy looks more like, well, Seattle.

How accurate are these rankings? Difficult to say. They are based on just five questions — perhaps an overly simplistic approach to a complex concept. And I can’t vouch for reliability of the computer model designed for this project.

But I do know one thing: If you feel like getting stoned at a same-sex wedding, Seattle is the only big city in the country where you can do that legally.

Comments | More in Reports | Topics: Politics


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