Salem is becoming a blue island in a red sea. As we have reported before, Salem is becoming more and more of a Democratic stronghold, not unlike other major Oregon cities like Eugene and Portland.
Tina Calos, the Chair of Progressive Salem, has analyzed the results of the latest Presidential election and found that Hillary Clinton won Salem easily, by 11%. She won almost half the votes — 49% to 38% for Donald Trump. Perhaps even more significant is the fact that Clinton won all eight City Council wards in Salem, even the traditionally conservative Ward 4 in far south Salem. She didn’t win Ward 4 by much (20 votes), but she won. In Ward 8, which comprises the westernmost part of West Salem, Hillary won by 4%. Ward 8 used to be a reliably Republican ward. President Obama lost Ward 8 four years ago. Now Ward 8 is a swing district and is trending Democrat.
Because the Statesman Journal only reports the county results that are easily available, it would be easy for progressive Salemians to despair that Donald Trump won Marion County, 46% to 42% for Clinton, and won Polk County 47% to 41%. But the results for Salem are very different. Interesting, Salem’s vote for Clinton nearly matches her statewide performance, where she won with 50% of the vote compared to only 39% for Trump.
There may be a number of reasons why Salem is becoming more blue, including the new “Motor Voter” automatic voter registration law, and increasing participation of Latinos and Millennials in recent elections. The strong campaign for Teresa Alonso Leon for House District 22 may have helped boost the turnout of Latino voters in Salem.
None of this bodes well for conservative Republican City Councilors like Jim Lewis in Ward 8, who faces reelection next year, and who finds himself increasingly in the minority in his district. These results in the November election help to explain the blowout victories of Sally Cook over conservative Republican Warren Bednarz in Ward 7 in the May, 2016, election and Cara Kaser over Republican Jan Kailuweit in the same election. The days when a Republican can win in Ward 1, Ward 2 and even Ward 7 may be over.