CLALLAM COUNTY, Wash. — There must be something in the water on the Olympic Peninsula since voters in Clallam County have once again voted for the presidential winner.
The county has voted for the presidential winner every four years since 1980, which is the last 10 straight elections.
As Clallam County goes, so goes the country.
"Well, I guess we're just smart," said Dick Pilling, laughing at this unusual election oddity. Pilling is a Port Angeles real estate agent and former chair of the Clallam County Republicans.
It's an impressive string, all things considered.
The county voted for these winners of their respective elections:
In 1980, Reagan beat Carter 58.9% to 41.1
In 1984, Reagan beat Mondale 57.3% to 40.9.
In 1988, George Bush beat Dukakis in a squeaker, by 77 votes, 49.1%-48.8.
In 1992, Bill Clinton defeated Bush 37.7-34.1
In 1996, Bill Clinton won 42.6-42.1
In 2000, George W. Bush beat Gore 49.53 to 42.
In 2004, George W. Bush beat Kerry 51.33 to 46.37.
In 2008, Barack Obama 50.55, McCain 47.25
In 2012, Obama 48.81, Romney 48.43
In 2016, Trump 47.6, Clinton 44.8.
In 2020, Joe Biden beat Trump 51.5% to 46.03.
The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Clallam was one of only 19 counties nationwide that had correctly picked the presidential winner dating back to 1980.
This year, those other 18 counties voted for Trump, making Clallam County now the only county in the U.S. that has correctly picked the presidential winner since 1980.
"It's amazing to me, but it's understandable in a way because we have a few extremes here like everyone else, but people do think and talk and read and they stay involved with politics," said Liz Baumgartner, Chair of the Clallam County Democrats. "They don't just cut it out. And I think that's one of the reasons why it's a bellwether place."
The county shares some similarities with those others around the country: higher-than-average unemployment rate, incomes below the median, with an older, less diverse population.
Clallam County has a mix of timber, farm, and maritime industrial jobs, with retirees especially in the eastern part of the county and others who are drawn to the magic of the Olympic mountains.
"I think that we are probably very close to being a middle America-type enclave here," said Pilling.
Current Clallam County Republican chair Sue Forde said, "The Republican party has become more of a working man's party. So and they're seeing that, that we care about, you know, jobs and the working guy."
During the presidential primary in March, before the pandemic, more voters cast a ballot in the Democratic presidential primary than the Republican side.
According to the Secretary of State's office, 18,644 Clallam County residents voted Democrat and 12,296 residents voted Republican. A cynic would say that's because there were more candidates involved in the Democratic primary, and that's what perhaps spurred the totals.
Baumgartner hopes it's a sign of things to come.
"I think there's a strong bunch of people who are just fed up," said Baumgartner.
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