PACIFIC COUNTY — It’s been a month since the 2020 presidential election concluded — as hard as that might seem to believe — and while the Electoral College still needs to meet later this month to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, it’s never too early to examine how Pacific County’s communities voted this fall.
What’s clear is that while Biden performed better in every community on the Long Beach Peninsula over Hillary Clinton four years ago — as well as in a number of north county precincts — President Donald Trump was able to hold on to many of the gains he made in 2016, particularly in the northern part of the county. It ultimately proved to be enough for him to win the county for a second time, albeit much more narrowly than he did four years ago.
Peninsula reverts back to DemsAs surprising as Trump’s win in the county in 2016 was that he nearly carried the peninsula itself that year, losing it to Clinton by less than 2% as he carried the county overall by about 7%.
This fall, even while losing the county as a whole by 1%, Biden won the peninsula by a convincing 10 points, 54% to 44%, and built back the Democrats’ advantage closer to where it had been in 2012, when former President Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney by about 13%. Biden’s victory was still considerably short of Obama’s 17-point win over John McCain in 2008, however.
Compared to four years ago, Biden improved on Clinton’s margins in every peninsula community, from Ilwaco to Oysterville. His biggest gains came on the southern half of the peninsula, improving on Clinton’s numbers by double digits in Ilwaco, Seaview and Long Beach, while he made less pronounced gains in the northern peninsula communities.
In Ilwaco, Biden improved markedly on Clinton’s performance in both the city itself and in its rural precincts. In the city, Biden beat Trump by about 16%, after Clinton had won it by less than 3% in 2016 — a leftward shift of 13.5 points. In rural Ilwaco, Biden won the two precincts by about 8%, an improvement of 23 points after Clinton lost the precincts by 15% four years ago.
In Seaview, which swung to Trump by nearly 23 points when he narrowly lost the community by just 2% in 2016, Biden won by about 13% and regained about half of the ground Trump had gained four years ago. Biden’s margin of victory, however, is still a far cry from Obama’s 2012 and 2008 wins, when he was winning the community by 24 and 28 points, respectively.
Biden’s margin in Long Beach nearly returned to Obama’s levels in 2012 and 2008, winning the city by 13% this year after Obama won it by 18% and 15%, respectively. Overall, the city swung by nearly 15 points toward the Democrats compared to 2016, when Trump narrowly carried the city by about 2%.
While some of Biden’s best results this year came from precincts on the peninsula’s northern end, his gains were not as fruitful as they were on the peninsula’s southern half.
Biden managed a victory of about 2% in Klipsan, a nearly 7-point improvement for the Democrats after Clinton lost the precinct by 5% in 2016. The story was similar in Nahcotta, where Biden won by about 3% after Clinton lost the community by 3%. Nahcotta had previously gone widely for Obama, who won by at least 19% in his two runs.
In Ocean Park, Biden returned Democrats’ margins to double digits, winning by about 15% after Clinton only won by 8% in 2016. Biden’s victory matched Obama’s win in 2012, but was still well off the pace of Obama’s 28-point romp in 2008.
Oysterville has proven to be the most stable precinct of all on the peninsula, as Biden won by about 17 points this year, a slight improvement on Clinton’s 16-point win in 2016. Biden was not far off from matching Obama’s margins in the northernmost community, however; Obama won by about 20% in 2012 and 21% in 2008.
Rest of county yields a mixed bagWhile the peninsula saw a uniform swing to the left this fall, the rest of the county saw no such consistency, as Biden improved noticeably in some communities but Trump mostly maintained or expanded upon his 2016 gains in others.
In Chinook, Biden improved by about 12 points on Clinton’s 2016 margins, but still lost the community by nearly 3% — Obama won Chinook by 9% in 2012 and 18% in 2008. In Naselle, Trump marginally improved on his 2016 margins, winning by more than 24% this time around after winning by more than 23% four years ago. Naselle had gone for Obama by 2% in 2012.
Along with Chinook, Bay Center was one of the few other communities that saw a noticeable swing toward Biden. In 2016, Clinton lost the county by 15% after Obama carried the community by at least 10% in his two runs, a 25-point shift toward Trump. The community swung back narrowly toward the Democrats this fall, with Biden winning by about 2%.
Biden posted marginal gains in both Raymond and South Bend, the two north county cities that went solidly for Obama in 2012 and 2008 but swung sharply to Trump in 2016. In Raymond, Biden improved on Clinton’s margins by two points, but still lost the city by about 8%. In South Bend, which Obama won by 23 points in both of his runs, Biden won the city by less than 3% — a 1-point improvement over 2016.
Outside of Raymond and South Bend, Trump maintained his gains in a number of north county communities. In Willapa, Trump matched his 21-point victory in 2016, after Obama had won by 16% in 2012. In North Cove, Trump won by about 7% this year, a 5-point improvement from four years earlier. And in Menlo-Firdale, Trump posted a 32-point win this fall, a slight improvement on his 30-point win in 2016.
Overall, the picture that’s become clear as the dust clears in 2020 is that the political realignment in Pacific County was confirmed this fall, and that 2016 was not an anomaly — for the most part.
In 2008, the peninsula communities voted for Obama by 17 points and the rest of the county favored him by 11 points, a six-point difference between the two. In 2012, the peninsula favored Obama by 14 points and the rest supported him by 10 points, a four-point gap. In 2016, the peninsula supported Clinton by two points and the rest favored Trump by 16 points, an 18-point difference. And in 2020, the peninsula favored Biden by 10 points and the rest of the county favored Trump by 14 points, a 24-point gap.
Only time will tell whether that trend continues.