Why Is DC So Overwhelmingly Democrat-Leaning

I was looking at the results of the recent election and noticed that, for the most part, the winner of any particular state usually won with less than a two-thirds majority.

There were a few states where a particular candidate managed to get more than two thirds of the vote in a particular state. For example, President Obama won Hawaii with 70.6% and Vermont with 67.0%. Governor Romney won Oklahoma with 66.8%, Utah with 72.8 and Wyoming with 69.3%.

However, President Obama won DC with 91.4% of the vote. That’s a huge margin – far ahead of any other state’s result.

Why is that so? Why is DC so much of a blue state… er, district?

I understand that Washington is not a “normal” city in the traditional sense. A good percentage of the people who live and work in the city are there because they work for the government in some way (or else work to supply goods and services for those who do). But it’s not as if the Democrats have held a thirty year monopoly on power in the city that would result in all the government staff being Democrat. So, why is the district so blue?

Zev Steinhardt

You are laughably uninformed.

The Distric of Columbia is a smart area–I don’t know how many acres–that is NOT a state or a city.

Very likely the reason for so many Democrats in that area is that the President of the United States is a Democrat, so many government employees are members of that party. If S/he were Republican…well, figure it out. IF you can.

One factor is that the District’s population is more than 50% African American. Anther would be that the more conservative whites working in the District live in the MD or VA suburbs – that’s true for most big American cities, that it’s the more liberal whites that like inner-city living, but in this case it means that the liberal/conservative divide follows a state boundary.

As I remember, a new administration has about 3,000 jobs to fill, so only about that number of jobs turn over in an election. The majority of the rest of the government employees keep their jobs no matter which party wins the White House.

I think if you re-read the OP you will notice that he/she seems to be aware of that fact.

If you compare the results to other mid-Atlantic cities instead of with states, Obama’s margin of victory in DC doesn’t look so much like an outlier.

In addition, DC differs from all 50 states in being essentially 100% urban, which is another predictor of blueness.

This seems unnecessary, especially since both of your contributions to this thread are incorrect.

It is a city. It has a mayor and a city council. It’s also the seat of the federal government, so it’s not the same as any other city. But it is a city by any reasonable definition of the word.

DC voted 90% for Kerry in the 2004 election.

DC isn’t that more liberal than many other cities. The political parties in the US have taken a pretty strong urban/rural split. And DC is very urban. It doesn’t even have any outlying suburbs in the county. 84% of Manhattan voted for Obama, 91% of Queens, 74% of Cook County (which contains more than the urban core of Chicago), 83% of San Francisco, 87.4% of Baltimore

Yeah, basically what others said. DC is a big urban city. There are also a huge amount of black people there, who tend to vote democratic (about 90% actually).

…98% of Detroit.

DC has gone Democratic in the past 10 presidential elections at least, and usually by a large margin. The idea that it would flip based on the party of the sitting president is, well, laughable.

DC’s not super-Blue for a city. For example, Cleveland OH, whose vote counts I have went for Obama by 88.7% (that’s ignoring votes other than Obama and Romney which I don’t have). You won’t notice that in the county statistics because the suburbs of Cleveland are also in Cuyahoga County. But DC’s suburbs are in MD or VA.

Always keep your words soft and tender for you may have to eat them.

As others have said: Urban, black, civil servant-heavy. I imagine it has a fair number of yuppies and educated workers too.
I think the split is not just urban/rural but rather high density/low density. Don’t small towns tend to be GOP? How about suburban areas?

This is one of the less capable answers I’ve read around here. :smack:

The District of Columbia is 68.3 sq. mi., considerably more than “I don’t know how many acres”. It has a population in excess of 600,000, making it the 25th largest city in the nation. Sounds pretty city-like to me.

DC has been voting reliably Democratic for decades. In 1984, it was the only place other than Minnesota to go Democrat; this despite the fact that the President was a Republican, Ronald Reagan. It went Democrat in 1972, when the incumbent Republican president, Richard Nixon, was trouncing McGovern (who only took DC and Massachusetts). I believe it has gone Democrat ever since it was given a chance to select electors for the President as a result of the 23rd Amendment (ratified in 1961).

DC goes Democrat because the city is inhabited to a great extent by poor people (about 19% under the poverty level, more than any state except Mississippi), by blacks (50%), by Hispanics (9%), and by Asian and “other” “races” (3.5% and 4% respectively). All these groups vote very heavily Democratic. There are other reasons that the District is filled with fairly liberal voters.

I suggest you re-think your understanding of our nation’s capital. :dubious:

Technically, Dana Scully is correct that the District of Columbia is not a city. But Washington is a city, and has exactly the same borders as DC, so the one is often used as a shorthand for the other.

Slight hijack-- Washington Territory (then State) was originally going to be named “Columbia” after the river, but a congressman thought that people would confuse it with the District of Columbia and so proposed “Washington” instead. Since then, nobody has ever confused the two.

And the city of Washington did not always encompass the entire District; their used to be other municipalities.

DC is 50.7% African American, of which 85-95% vote Democratic. We are 9.1% Latino, of which 70% prefer Obama. 4.4% identifies as “other” (of which many vote Democratic- Native Americans, for example are even more Democratic than African Americans) and 3.1% Asian American, of which 60% voted for Obama in the previous election. 8.3% of the population identifies as GLBT, of which 70-77% of which vote Democratic.

It’s one of the most educated cities in the US, with 44% of the population having undergrad degrees and an astonishing 25% holding graduate degrees. Education is correlated with voting Democratic. 26.8% of the city identifies as atheist or does not identify with a religion. 51.% of families with children are lead by single mothers.The median family income is $58,000, which is quite a bit above the US average of around $51,000.

The city has 9 four year universities, and dozens of graduate, professional and speciality schools.

So a given Washingtonian has a pretty good chance of being a black, atheist, lesbian single mother in grad school. Good luck with that one, Romney!

That statement is wrong, Kerry won 90% of the DC area in 2004 when Bush was the incumbent. If you are going to insult and condescend to people make sure you know what you are talking about.


My understanding of how it works is that large cities are full of non-whites and white liberals (white liberals attracted to the diversity, education and opportunity in a large city), all large cities (even salt lake city) tend to lean democratic due to this. DC, as Sven says is about 50% black with another 13% or so being latino or other races. But still, I don’t know why the rest of the whites in DC are so heavily liberal, the whites have to be as democratic as the blacks which outside of liberal circles is pretty rare (white liberals make up something like 12-15% of the electorate).

As a point of comparison, San Francisco, proper, is about 49 sq mi. Official numbers are going to be much larger, but that includes a lot of water and a bunch of uninhabited islands. What most people think of as SF, though, is roughly 7 miles x 7 miles.

LA, OTOH, is a whole 'nuther story. No one really knows how big that city is. :slight_smile:

ETA: I’m still trying to figure out what makes DC such a “smart” area… :smiley: