In January, 2015, Salem Weekly reported on how Salem was a more progressive city than most people think.

The secret’s out: Salem Is actually a progressive City

That story presented analysis of recent election results in Salem’s eight City Council wards showing that Salem voters are actually nearly as progressive as voters in cities like Eugene and Portland.

Most of the analysis for the January, 2015, article was done by Tina Calos who chairs a local organization called Progressive Salem which was formed in 2015 to elect more progressives to local office in Salem. Calos has recently done some new analysis of voter registration data in Salem that shows that the trends she found 18 months ago have continued.

In her new analysis Calos looked at the change in party affiliation (Democrat and Republican) in the past two years in the eight Salem City Council wards. What she found is that Democrats have increased their registration in all eight wards.


The shift in Ward 1, downtown and Central Salem, has been most dramatic. The shift probably helps to explain the blowout victory that Cara Kaser achieved over her Ward 1 opponent Jan Kailuweit in the May 2016 City Council election. Even though City Council races are non-partisan, it was well-known in Ward 1 that Kaser was a Democrat and Kailuweit was a Republican.

With this shift in party affiliation in the past two years, here is how Democrat and Republican registration now looks in all eight Salem City Council wards:



Again, in Ward 1 (Central Salem) and Ward 2 (South Central Salem), Democrats have a large advantage. Republicans hold a small edge only in Ward 4 (South of Kuebler) and Ward 8 (West Salem). Overall in Salem, Democrats now hold a nine point advantage over Republicans, 40% to 31%.

The Democrat’s advantage in Salem is even greater than it appears. That’s because voters who are non-affliated or registered with the Independent Party tend to vote for Democratic candidates.

In the May, 2016, elections for City Council, Progressive Salem was successful in electing all three progressive candidates they recruited to run in Ward 1 (Cara Kaser), Ward 5 (Matt Ausec) and Ward 7 (Sally Cook). Sally Cook’s strong victory over Republican incumbent Warren Bednarz in Ward 7 (Southwest Salem) probably owes much to the fact that Democrats now enjoy a nine point registration advantage in that Ward.

In 2018, when Salem once again elects four City Councilors and a Mayor, the advantage for progressives may be even greater for two reasons. First, there’s the new “motor voter” law. Because more young people will be automatically registered to vote and hold on to their registration when they move, the new “motor voter” law will likely result in further gains for Democrats. And second, Donald Trump’s candidacy for President in 2016 is widely predicted to work to the disadvantage of Republicans. These trends could lead to a strong progressive majority on the Salem City Council by 2019.