Friday, August 24, 2007

South Lake Election Trends, Part 2

As promised, I wanted to provide more detail into the seeming leftward shift of South Lake voters in the past decade. As I mentioned in the first posting on this topic, the South Lake area hasn't exactly become a bastien of liberal support; however, it also doesn't appear as iron-clad red as it did a decade or two ago.

Before I get to South Lake, let's take a look at Edina. It is, after all, in our Congressional District (3), but it also has had an interesting change from 2000 - 2006. In the 2000 Senate election, the one where Mark Dayton defeated Rod Grams overall, Dayton carried 8 of Edina's 20 precincts. In the 2006 Klobuchar vs. Kennedy race, Democrat Klobuchar carried all but 2, or 18 precincts. While Klobuchar easily carried the entire state, this shift in such a historically red suburb is noteworthy -- it indicates that those in Edina will vote based on a particular candidate and political issues, and not just vote for the Republicans. I make this point because I think alot of people assume a city like Edina is a safe zone for Republicans -- not so.

Now let's focus on the South Lake area. Most south lake precincts have typically voted Republican, with the exception of Excelsior which almost always leans Democrat (although they do show support for Tim Pawlenty, voting for him in 2002 and nearly giving him their plurality in 2006). The South Lake area, with its median household income that is over twice that of the state median, has historically held true with the tendancy of wealthier districts to vote Republican (except in Conneticut as the joke goes).

Deephaven had a noticeable shift to the left in 2006. This might hae been because a neighorhood Democrat, Mary Schrock, was running for the state House seat and could have brought supporters out on Election Day. But in the US Senate race, Klobuchar carried Deephaven with 50% and 56% in the two precincts, vs. Dayton's 35% and 38% in 2000. In the State Senate race of the same two elections, the Democratic candidate gained 10 points although they didn't carry the seat. This is a city that voted in the 80% range for the Republican candidate in the 1998 state House election, whereas the Republican candidate only carried 54% of the vote in 2006. It should also be noted that Deephaven has demonstrated an independent streak, being one of the few South Lake precincts that Jesse carried in the 1998 Gubernatorial election.

In Shorewood, two of five precincts voted in Klobuchar's favor last year, but none went Dayton's way in 2000. Look at the percentages for Klobuchar in 2006 - 48, 48, 56, 47, 52. Dayton in 2000 turned in a much softer 43, 36, 36, and 38%. Of the three precincts Klobuchar lost, she lost them by a combined 27 votes. One Shorewood precinct (ward 2, precinct 1) shows Klobuchar winning by 16 points, and the Democrats gaining 11 points in the State Senate between 2002 and 2006. This is also the precinct that has only given Pawlenty 52% and 53% of the vote in his two elections, the closest margins in South Lake except for Excelsior.

As we get into the next election year, more of these stats are to come. But for now, the main point is that a Democrat taking a seat in the South Lake Minnetonka area isn't far-fetched, although it is probably more likely to occur with an open seat (as we saw with the somewhat narrow victory by John Berns in last year's state House race). At this point in time no open seats exist, but that could change. Is this shift just part of the nation leftward movement that we saw in 06 and are still witnessing? Maybe. But will make the local 2008 races ones worth watching.

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