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Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

Topic: Washington State

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December 21, 2012 at 7:50 AM

Who’s packing heat in Washington?

To conservatives, gun ownership is a matter of self-reliance and self-defense.  To liberals, handguns mean one thing — violence.

Conservatives believe that gun ownership is an absolute right, enshrined in the Constitution. Liberals counter that today’s easy access to guns has nothing to do with the “well regulated militia” protected by the Second Amendment.

Conservatives fear that liberals will use any means possible to legislate guns away from them.  Liberals feel that conservatives will fight even the most common-sense restrictions on handguns.

There is seemingly no common ground between the two sides. And like many divisive issues, this one falls along partisan lines — pro-gun Republicans and anti-gun Democrats.  This is confirmed by national survey data on gun ownership.  It’s a classic red state/blue state wedge issue, much like gay marriage.


Comments | More in Government Data, Public Records | Topics: guns, Washington State

November 21, 2012 at 6:45 AM

Godless in Seattle: Is Bill O’Reilly right about us?

Atheist placard (Photo: Wikimedia Commons) Remember a few Christmases ago, when an atheist group was allowed to place a placard in the Capitol building in Olympia, alongside a Christian Nativity scene?  Conservative talking head Bill O’Reilly made a big fuss about it on Fox News, and Washington state briefly became ground zero for the so-called…


Comments | More in Demographics | Topics: religion, Washington State

November 17, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Gay marriage and Eastern Washington: What’s wrong with this picture?

Ref. 74 map: One of these things is not like the other…

Everyone knows by now that same-sex marriage in Washington state was affirmed by popular vote — but the vote was a lot more popular in some parts of the state than others.  Most Puget Sound counties voted in favor of gay marriage, while the rest of the state voted against it.  The geographic divide is abundantly clear on the Washington Secretary of State’s Ref. 74 results map.

And yet, there’s something funny about this map.  Way over on the eastern edge of the state, amid a vast sea of yellow rejection, a lone patch of green approval stands out.  What is that place?

Meet Whitman County.

So why there?  Ref. 74 went down in flames in the rest of Eastern Washington.  What’s different about Whitman County?


Comments | More in Demographics | Topics: Census, elections, gay

November 8, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Is Washington the No. 1 state for pot smokers?

Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata speaking at Hempfest, 2009 (Photo: Ekaune via Wikimedia Commons)

Washington has a long-standing reputation for being one of the more pot-friendly places in the country.  We even play host to the world’s largest pot rally, Hempfest, every year.  But still, did anyone expect our trailblazing I-502 to pass with such ease at the polls?

Taking all that into consideration, nobody could blame you for thinking that Washington was among the handful of states where marijuana use is most prevalent.  But actually, Washington just misses the top-10 list.  The National Surveys on Drug Use and Health found that in 2009-2010, 8.86 percent of Washingtonians aged 12 and up had used marijuana in the past month.  With the District of Columbia included in this survey, Washington only comes in 11th place.  The other state that legalized recreational pot use, Colorado, ranks third.

Here are the top-ranked states, along with their percentage of the population who consume cannabis.  As you can see, usage in Washington is significantly lower than the states at the top of the list; and you might say this ranking gives new meaning to the term “baked Alaska”:


Comments | More in Government Data | Topics: marijuana, Politics, Washington State

November 5, 2012 at 6:00 AM

What drives Republicans and Democrats? Winnebagos and Smart Cars

Veer to the right in your Winnebago…

Now that Washington is on a mail-in ballot system, none of us will be driving to the polls tomorrow.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t vote with our cars.  In fact, we kind of do already.

Washington State Republicans and Democrats have strong preferences when it comes to their choice of cars, just as they do with their choice of candidates.  This really isn’t surprising, because the cars we drive can say a lot about who we are.  Think about it: when you see someone behind the wheel of a Hummer or a hybrid, you probably make certain assumptions about the driver.

Now I’m not suggesting that car choice is a predictor of a person’s politics.  But the data show that certain cars do in fact have a stronger appeal to either Republicans or Democrats.  And on the eve of this high-stakes election, with passions and anxieties running high, I thought it would be a fun diversion to take a look at what Republicans and Democrats like to drive most.


Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: cars, Politics, Washington State