Skip to main content

We all know California, never a lily-white state to start with, has rapidly diversified over the last generation.  But California's White vote is far from monolithic.  It's not easy task to figure out what percent of the White vote Obama got in each county in the state, but I was inspired to try my best after the New York Times map of places where Obama got under 20% of that demographic (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/...).

My methodology was as follows:
1) Use exit polls to approximate the Black, Asian, and Hispanic vote for Obama vs Romney.  Due to the more heavily Vietnamese Asian population in L.A. and Orange Counties, I gave Obama only 70% of L.A.'s Asian vote and 65% of Orange County's.  Those are approximations, and mean that my numbers could be off, but I believe the true percentage is closer to those numbers than his 79% statewide.  Otherwise, I avoided changing the numbers.  I know Obama did better than 73% with Hispanics in some almost 100% Hispanic Central Valley towns but figured the range was close enough to 73% that it wouldn't matter.  I gave Obama 80% of the Native American vote, which wasn't part of the exit poll.

2) Use the Census to approximate turnout by race/ethnicity.  I adjusted all numbers downward (surprise, people lie and say they voted) to match actual turnout, which is an easy number to get using 2012 population estimates and actual vote totals.

3) Approximate Hispanic turnout in various counties (it's far lower among migrant workers in the Central Valley than in San Ysidro, Los Angeles, east San Jose, or Salinas, unsurprisingly) by looking at turnout in heavily Hispanic towns.  Hispanic turnout (as % of population, not VAP or CVAP) ranged from 10% in Kern County to 25% in Santa Barbara County.

4) Adjust for prisons (which boost minority population, especially in Kings, Lassen, and Del Norte Counties) by assuming demographically similar counties (Tulare, Plumas, and Humboldt, respectively) had similar voting populations.

I hope that all makes sense.  Even with that, there is some guesswork that must be done.  I'd hope my numbers are within three percent of the actual percentage, but in truth the margin of error may be up to five.  

I've drawn up a map.

Totals range from 90% (San Francisco) to 17% (Tulare and Colusa).  I'm going to go region by region, south to north.

Southern California:
San Diego (voters approximately 66% White, 19% Hispanic, 8% Asian, 7% Black): Whites 41% Obama.
San Diego's urban core gives it a relatively high percent of White Democrats.  I'm sure the numbers in the suburbs are far lower.

Imperial: 76H/18W/5B, Whites 29% Obama.  This is the only county in the state that is majority Hispanic if you look at the voters rather than the population.  As with much of Southern California, racial polarization looks more like Arizona than NorCal.

Riverside: 54W/31H/9B, Whites 28% Obama.  Riverside is (surprisingly and perhaps inaccurately) even worse than Imperial for White Democrats, by my calculations.  And that's even with Palm Springs helping to boost the numbers.

San Bernardino: 46W/36H/13B, Whites 24% Obama.
San Bernardino's numbers are about the same as Georgia or South Carolina.  It's Riverside County without Palm Springs.  However, I can't help but feel these numbers are a bit low.  Perhaps Hispanic turnout is lower than I thought it was.

Orange: 65W/19H/13A, Whites 33% Obama.
While there is much talk about Orange County getting bluer, you can see here why it's tough.  Almost 2/3 of the voters are White, and there are also some conservative Vietnamese votes.  

Los Angeles: 43W/33H/13B/10A, Whites 63% Obama.
Another one of the state's few majority-minority electorates, but the Whites are unsurprisingly pretty liberal too.

Ventura: 66W/25H/5A, Whites 42% Obama.
Ventura's numbers are quite a bit higher than other SoCal counties.  I'm not sure why that is, but it's high enough that I can't attribute it to my estimates being off.

Central Coast:

Santa Barbara: 64W/29H, Whites 50% Obama.
It's possibly I over-estimated Hispanic turnout here; my gut tells me a majority of the county's White voters went blue.  Interestingly, the map of White voters mirrors a 50-50 D/R race in the state almost perfectly.

San Luis Obispo: 82W/12H, Whites 45% Obama.
Obama managed to win this heavily White county thanks to the college town of San Luis Obispo.  

Monterey: 55W/33H/6B/5A, Whites 62% Obama.
Steinbeck Country votes like the Bay Area.

San Benito: 60W/35H, Whites 51% Obama.
It surprised me, but rural San Benito's Whites are pretty liberal.

Santa Cruz: 79W/14H, Whites 80% Obama.
The results from this hippie haven should surprise nobody.  It trails only SF and Alameda.

Central Valley:

Tulare: 57W/36H, Whites 17% Obama.
Kings: 62W/31H, Whites 22% Obama.
Tulare County is a lot like Texas, but with a few more Mexicans and far fewer Blacks.  Its twin, Kings County, is similar in almost every respect.  I chalk up the 5% difference to my margin of error.

Kern: 66W/19H/10B, Whites 22% Obama.
For all the talk about Oklahoma, I think Kern County's Whites may be even more conservative.

Fresno: 58W/25H/10B/7A, Whites 30% Obama.
My guess is that we can chalk up the 8% difference between Kern and Fresno to the oil industry.

Madera: 63W/28H/7B, Whites 20% Obama.
Merced: 48W/41H/6B, Whites 30% Obama.

These two counties are both smaller.  Merced is another majority-minority electorate, but its Whites are more liberal too.  Possibly helped by the college.

Stanislaus: 66W/25H, Whites 38% Obama.
San Joaquin: 54W/24H/12B/10A, Whites 37% Obama.
San Joaquin's light blueness compared to Stanislaus's light redness can be chalked up to diversity, not the preferences of its White voters, who are more liberal in either county than they are anywhere else in the valley.

Mountains:
Inyo: 76W/12H/12NA, Whites 33% Obama.
Mono: 83W/14H, Whites 50% Obama.
Alpine: 73W/20NA/5H, Whites 56% Obama.
Guess which one doesn't have ski resorts and second homes.

Tuolomne: 89W/6H, Whites 37% Obama
Mariposa: 90W/6H, Whites 36% Obama
Calaveras: 90W/6H, Whites 37% Obama
Amador: 87W/8H, Whites 34% Obama

These four are almost as identical as they come.

Siskiyou: 88W/5H, Whites 37% Obama
Lassen: 91W/5H, Whites 25% Obama
Modoc: 86W/7H/5NA, Whites 21% Obama
Plumas: 92W, Whites 38% Obama
Sierra: 95W, Whites 36% Obama
Nevada: 94W, Whites 48% Obama

Tahoe helps make Nevada bluer, and Modoc and Lassen are basically Southwestern Idaho.  The others are the same as mountain counties all over the state's eastern tier.

Sacramento Area:

El Dorado: 91W/5H, Whites 37% Obama
Placer: 87W/6H, Whites 35% Obama

Suburbs and skiiers.

Sacramento: 62W/13B/13H/10A, Whites 46% Obama
Half Sacramento itself, with liberal Whites, and half suburban, which similar votes to Placer.

Bay Area:
San Francisco: 64W/22A/7H/6B, Whites 90% Obama
90% is a crazy number.  That's all I have to say on the matter.

Alameda: 49W/20A/17B/13H, Whites 81% Obama.
The wealthier 680 corridor stops these numbers from being similar to SF's.

Contra Costa: 63W/13H/12B/11A, Whites 60% Obama.
In the Bay Area, this is conservative.

Santa Clara: 54W/25A/16H, Whites 67% Obama.
Tech stops this from being the same as Contra Costa.

San Mateo: 61W/19A/14H, Whites 71% Obama.
A tad poorer than Santa Clara, and also doesn't have Gilroy or Morgan Hill.

Marin: 86W/6H, Whites 76% Obama.
Famous for rich liberal Whites.  The fame is deserved.

Sonoma: 81W/12H, Whites 73% Obama.
Higher than I expected.

Solano: 56W/19B/14H/10A, Whites 50% Obama.
Fairfield and Vacaville feel like Texas if you grew up in the Bay.

North Coast:
Napa: 74W/17H/5A, Whites 60% Obama.
It's not really on the coast, but it had to go somewhere.

Mendocino: 80W/12H/6NA, Whites 69% Obama
Lake: 85W/10H, Whites 56% Obama
Humboldt: 86W/6NA/5H, Whites 63% Obama
Some of the most liberal rural Whites in the country live here

Del Norte: 85W/6H/6NA, Whites 39% Obama
I'm the least confident about these numbers since I had to adjust for the prison.

Trinity: 91W, Whites 47% Obama
I know nothing about this county except it barely has any people.

Sacramento Valley:

Yolo: 68W/18H, Whites 63% Obama
Yeah, yeah, we have a county called Yolo.  The college keeps it blue.

Colusa: 62W/33H, Whites 17% Obama
Glenn: 77W/18H, Whites 25% Obama
Tehama: 87W/10H, Whites 30% Obama
Sutter: 70W/14H/10A, Whites 24% Obama
Yuba: 75W/16H/5B, Whites 28% Obama
Butte: 86W/8H, Whites 44% Obama
Shasta: 91W, Whites 31% Obama

Colusa's numbers seem a bit low.  This area is very conservative, except the college town of Chico.  Even Redding, a real population center, is barely above 31%.

So there you have it.  I'm hoping to do this for more states if I have the time.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
    politicohen.com
    Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
    UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

    by jncca on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 04:03:38 PM PDT

  •  Your map pretty much fits (7+ / 0-)

    the usual layout of California politics. If you did it just by Democrat vs Republican you would get something similar.

    I live in Sonoma Co. There's nothing surprising about the high percentage of white Democratic voters. This is a deep blue area on almost any issue. It looks like similar trends in the rest of the Bay Area.

    California dose not have a lack of white Democrats. It really depends on where you live.

  •  it's not just the college in yolo (5+ / 0-)

    we're one of the three most consistently blue counties in the state, going back before eisenhower., along with alameda, and san francisco counties. obama won winters, west sac and woodland as well as davis (although i'm less sure about the white voters specifically).

  •  Ventura County has a lot of white liberals (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mary Mike, Zack from the SFV

    Particularly in Ventura and Ojai, as well as some more upscale white liberals in Thousand Oaks.

    28, Male, CA-26, DK Elections Black Caucus Chair.

    by DrPhillips on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 04:20:33 PM PDT

    •  Ojai's pretty small though (0+ / 0-)

      Ventura makes sense.  Does Thousand Oaks have more liberal white voters than other large suburbs in SoCal like Rancho Cucamonga or Fullerton, in your opinion?  If so why?

      21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
      politicohen.com
      Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
      UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

      by jncca on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 04:23:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ventura is more central coast than ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jncca, Be Skeptical

      "southern California" in the sense used here.

      It's partly like Santa Barbara, partly like the San Fernando Valley, partly like Orange County... and close to zero like Riverside or Imperial.

      All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian. -- Pat Paulsen

      by tommypaine on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 06:14:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My Socal defintion (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Zack from the SFV

        Includes Ventura County which is kind of a mix of Santa Barbara, OC and SFV. Ventura (city) is like SB while Thousand Oaks, Camarillo and Simi Valley do have some of the OC in it (but more OCish in Simi Valley).

        I would put Ventura County in SoCal because it does geographically fit. My definition actually extends to Santa Barbara because it is geographically close to the same latitude as Santa Clarita but the Santa Ynez Mountains are kind of the boundary between SoCal and Central California in my opinion.

        Seriously though, it is tough to decide which area Santa Barbara (city) belongs in.

        For more election analysis and redistricting maps, check out my blog http://racesandredistricting.blogspot.com/ CA-2 home, College in CA-37, go Trojans!

        by Alibguy on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 10:09:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  comments (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wu ming, Zack from the SFV

    Tahoe isn't in Nevada county. Nevada county is purple because it has more of a hippie element (from Grass Valley and Nevada City) than the other mountain counties do.

    Sacramento county outside of Sac proper is not really like Placer county. Compared to Placer, its white population is less rich, more likely to work for the state, and on average probably somewhat more comfortable with diversity. For example, Obama got 45% of the two-party vote in Citrus Heights, which is in Sacramento county and 73% Anglo. In contrast he got just 42% in neighboring Roseville in Placer county, which is 71% Anglo. In Rocklin which is further up I-80 and 75.5% Anglo, Obama got 39%.  

    Minor point, but I would put Yolo county in the Sacramento area as it is at least as tied to Sac as Placer and El Dorado are. Much of the population is in West Sac just across the river, and most of the rest is in Davis and Woodland which both have loads of people who commute into Sac.

    SSP poster. 44, CA-6, -0.25/-3.90

    by sacman701 on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 05:02:43 PM PDT

    •  Truckee is in Nevada County, and Truckee (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GoUBears

      is Tahoe.  Fair points on the Sacramento area.

      21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
      politicohen.com
      Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
      UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

      by jncca on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 05:41:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm surprised with San Bernardino and Riverside (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zack from the SFV

    For having such low percentages of white voters voting Democratic.

    I think alot of it may just be lower Hispanic turnout. I used to think it was that Hispanics were not as Democratic but I think it is just lower turnout out there. I was expecting the white voters to go about 30% for Obama.

    For more election analysis and redistricting maps, check out my blog http://racesandredistricting.blogspot.com/ CA-2 home, College in CA-37, go Trojans!

    by Alibguy on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 05:29:08 PM PDT

    •  It's tough (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alibguy

      I looked at Fontana to figure San Bernardino turnout, and I looked at a combination of Moreno Valley and Coachella for Riverside's, so I really don't think the turnout numbers are that far off.  But the numbers didn't quite pass my smell test.  It's possible that Black turnout (which matters in the Inland Empire) is low, which would throw the numbers off too.  Like I said, there's a margin of error here.

      21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
      politicohen.com
      Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
      UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

      by jncca on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 05:42:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True (0+ / 0-)

        It is tough to figure that out. Using Fontana is a good idea though.

        For more election analysis and redistricting maps, check out my blog http://racesandredistricting.blogspot.com/ CA-2 home, College in CA-37, go Trojans!

        by Alibguy on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 10:10:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yeah, places like Mendocino (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ckntfld, Alibguy

    and western Sonoma (the Sebastopol area) are really the only places in the country that rival Vermont (and western Massachusetts) for quantity of rural white liberals.

    (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

    by ProudNewEnglander on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 06:38:22 PM PDT

  •  Regarding Trinity (3+ / 0-)

    Since you say you know nothing about it and I visit there a fair bit.  Interesting area - a mix of Tea flavored gold miner/rancher/logger types with more liberal pot grower/wine grower/artist/back to the land hippy types.  Biggest town and county seat is Weaverville and that's not much of a town.  No other town of any size that I can think of.  Trinity river rafting/kayaking, Trinity Alps backpacking are main reasons to visit.
    Thanks for the interesting work!

    "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verité et de la dire" Jean Jaures

    by Chico David RN on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 08:39:20 PM PDT

    •  Two roads, a road between the two roads (0+ / 0-)

      and Bigfoot... plus the biggest ganja fields in the US.  

      All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian. -- Pat Paulsen

      by tommypaine on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 10:27:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hwys 36,299 and 3 (0+ / 0-)

        In that order.  I thought Humboldt county might have bigger grows - but I'm hardly expert on that one!  I'm more in the wine end of things.

        "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verité et de la dire" Jean Jaures

        by Chico David RN on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 04:52:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't have the 2012 data but for 08 (0+ / 0-)

    I found that the 75%+ white precincts were 55-45 Obama

    more anti-conservative than liberal

    by bonzo925 on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 11:29:41 AM PDT

  •  Excellent Work..... (0+ / 0-)

    The biggest surprise for me is that so many counties are still majority white, especially in the Central Valley.  I had thought Fresno and San Joaquin Counties became majority-minority long ago.  Also a little surprising just how conservative the remaining whites are in San Bernardino County.  Considering that was a Bill Clinton county a generation ago when it was presumably considerably whiter, it seems odd that its remaining white vote is on par with that of Kern County.

    •  Responses (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mark27

      1) This is the electorate, not the population.  Hispanics lag far behind due to a combination of language barriers, lack of citizenship, migrant status, and poverty.  The entire Central Valley is majority-minority by population.

      2) San Bernardino County (and Riverside too) has had a lot of middle-class White growth, often from people priced out of more coastal areas.  The voting pool in 1992 and the voting pool in 2012 is drastically different due to rapid growth, similar to Nevada or parts of Florida.  Orange County nowadays is more likely to have Chamber of Commerce conservatives who want fewer regulations and don't own guns than archconservatives like Bob Dornan.  The archconservatives (Tim Donnelly, for example) are now out in the desert, where it's cheaper.  

      21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
      politicohen.com
      Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
      UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

      by jncca on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 12:18:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  San Bernardino County followup (0+ / 0-)

        The county has shifted from R+4 to D+2 from 1996 to 2012, a significant movement.  Some areas (Apple Valley, Barstow, Colton, Highland, Twentynine Palms, Yucaipa, and Yucca Valley, which except for Highland and Upland are all on the far exterior of the county population-wise) haven't seen this shift, but within the area considered the Inland Empire everywhere but Colton and Highland have seen at least 5 point shifts.

        21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
        politicohen.com
        Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
        UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

        by jncca on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 12:34:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site