Surveys show identification with the Democratic Party in King and Snohomish counties is at its highest point in the past 10 years. (The Herald)

Surveys show identification with the Democratic Party in King and Snohomish counties is at its highest point in the past 10 years. (The Herald)

Blue bump: Democratic majority in Snohomish, King counties

A new survey found that 52% of adults in the area say they are Democrats or that they lean Democratic.

By Gene Balk / The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — You might have thought there’s no way the Seattle area could get any more liberal than it already is. But according to new data, it appears that’s precisely what’s happened.

Twice a year, market-research firm Nielsen surveys hundreds of thousands of adults across the country about their political-party affiliation. The two surveys released in 2019 for the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metropolitan division (King and Snohomish counties) show identification with the Democratic Party is at its highest point in the past 10 years.

In both recent surveys, 52% of adults in our area (a projected 1.25 million people) said that they are Democrats or that they lean Democratic. And keep in mind, that’s the percentage of the entire population age 18 and up, not just registered voters.

Most of the Nielsen surveys since 2010 have shown Democrats and Democratic-leaning adults around 48% to 49% of the total for our area. But since 2017, the numbers have been trending up overall.

Why has it happened?

As everyone knows, we’ve had a massive influx of new arrivals since 2010. It’s possible that an even higher percentage of them are liberal than the folks who already lived here. Anecdotally, a lot of people who’ve moved to the Seattle area from more conservative parts of the county say one of the things that drew them here is our progressive politics.

With the increase in the share of our population that is politically liberal, Seattle now ranks among a small number of metro areas where the majority of the adult population are Democrats or Democratic-leaning. Among the 100 most-populous metropolitan areas and metropolitan divisions included in the survey, we’re one of 11 in the most recent survey data.

Seattle ranks as the ninth most-liberal metro. No. 1, unsurprisingly, is San Francisco, where 65% of adults are Democrats or lean Democratic. All of the Top 10 bluest metros are in the Northeast or on the West Coast, with one exception: Durham/Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

King County alone would rank higher, but Snohomish drags down our area’s liberal bragging rights a bit. In King, 55% of adults are Democrats or Democratic leaning, compared with 44% in less-populous Snohomish. (In case you’re wondering, that number drops to 39% in Pierce County).

Republicans, or folks who lean Republican, number about 570,000 in our two-county area. That’s a little less than a quarter of the adult population. There are also 225,000 independents who don’t lean either blue or red, making up about 9% of the total. An additional 335,000 people in our area have a different political affiliation, or no affiliation at all. Most of these are folks not registered to vote, either by choice or because they are ineligible.

The most conservative metro area among the 100 largest is Ogden, Utah, where 59% of adults are Republican or lean Republican. The area with the highest percentage of independent voters who don’t lean either right or left is Worcester, Massachusetts, at 24%.

The demographic data, broken down by party affiliation, shows that Democrats in the Seattle area have a median household income of $88,000. They are less affluent than Republicans ($103,100) or independents ($95,200) here. A much higher percentage of Democrats and independents are renters (more than 40%) — only a quarter of area Republicans rent.

Democrats and independents here tend to be more educated, with nearly half having a college degree. For Republicans, 37% have a college degree.

Among Seattle-area Democrats, women make up the majority (52%), which is not true for either Republicans or independents. Democrats here are also more racially diverse, with 28% being people of color.

Republicans are easily the oldest group, with a median age of 53. For Democrats, it’s 46 and for independents, 42.

In its most recent release, Nielsen surveyed nearly 4,000 adults in King and Snohomish counties from August 2018 to August 2019. Nationally, more than 200,000 adults were surveyed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

People in dinosaur costumes greet each other during Downtown Trick-or-Treating on Oct. 31, 2019 in Everett, Wash. Health officials have discouraged trick-or-treating this year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Halloween cloaked in caution, trick-or-treating discouraged

As Snohomish Health District offers tips for safer fun, some still plan to hand out candy to kids.

Puddum the guinea pig in a Halloween costume. (Jessi Loerch)
Get your guinea pig costumed for trick-or-treat — if you can

Dressing up pets is no longer just for cats and dogs. Rodents can be mermaids and superheroes, too.

Firefighters rescued Bennett the cat from a chimney Sunday night. The cat was missing a week before someone heard him calling for help. Firefighters worked him out of the flue by hand. (Marysville Fire District)
Marysville firefighters rescue wayward cat from chimney

Bennett had been missing a week before a neighbor heard his meows coming from the fireplace.

The Arlington City Council will discuss asking voters to consider annexing its fire department to North County Fire & EMS. (North County Fire)
Arlington and North County Fire to consider annexation

If the Arlington City Council decides to move forward, voters would make the final decision.

CORRECTS NAME OF CANDIDATE AT LEFT TO MAIA ESPINOZA INSTEAD OF OF MONICA MARCHETTI - Maia Espinoza, a candidate for Washington state superintendent of public instruction, is shown at left in an undated photo taken by Monica Marchetti and provided by her campaign. Espinoza is challenging incumbent state superintendent Chris Reykdal, right, shown in an AP photo taken Oct. 2, 2020, in Olympia, Wash., in the upcoming November election. (AP Photo)
COVID and sex education frame the state superintendent race

Maia Espinoza, 31, is challenging incumbent Chris Reykdal, 48. They are both parents — with divergent views.

Man shot while pumping gas in Everett

A man in his mid-40s refused another’s demand for his wallet. The victim was hospitalized.

Rescuers find lost Marysville hunter near Leavenworth

They reached him over the radio, so they asked him to fire a round of his rifle to help locate him.

Everett man arrested in Las Vegas for 2019 shooting

After the killing on Aurora Ave. in Seattle, the suspect relocated to several different states.

Most Read