Our last session covered the suburbs. Here, I focus on the place that most Oregon kossacks are probably most familiar with, Portland. Portland is Oregon's largest city, and is the 29th largest in the country. At the time of the 2010 census Portland's roughly 584,000 people was a bit over 15% of the state's population of about 3,831,000.
Portland in places has leveraged that to dominate the metropolitan area and state politics. Though they haven't necessarily gotten their starts there, state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Secretary of State Kate Brown, and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler all made it big there. Rosenblum as a Multnomah County judge, Wheeler as the Multnomah County chair, and Brown as a state legislator and senate leader from a largely inner Southeast Portland district. The last two state AGs were Portlanders, and two recent governors, Neil Goldschmidt and Barbara Roberts, were Portland politicians. Looking federally, both US senators are Portlanders, and one of our recent senators, Bob Packwood, was also.
Oregon's state house Speaker Tina Kotek represents North Portland, and the senate majority leader, Senator Diane Rosenbaum represents Kate Brown's old senate district in inner SE. Every state senate district on the west side of Portland extends out of the county to pick up suburban areas- Beaverton, Tigard, Lake Oswego, West Linn, and Tualatin all share a senate district with part of Portland, and two of those four senators in those districts are Portlanders. On the east side 5 house districts and 4 senate districts cross from Portland into suburbs, and 2 of those senators and 2 of those reps are Portlanders. Altogether in the state I count 17 district with at least one precinct in Portland proper, more than a quarter of the state house, and 11 senate districts, or more than a third of the state senate. Pretty impressive for a city with 15% of the state's people. Of all of those legislators only one of them, state senator Chuck Thomsen, is a Republican.
Portland has quadrants like many other cities, but it also has a couple sections that should be considered separately. It has a fifth quadrant, North Portland, which lies between Williams Avenue and the Willamette and Columbia rivers, which is east of the Willamette River. Also east of the Willamette, Northeast Portland is north of Burnside Street and east of Williams, and Southeast Portland is south of Burnside, but here I'll analyze those two regions subdivided into inner Northeast, outer Northeast, inner Southeast, and outer Southeast. The reason I'm dividing these is because demographically and politically these regions differ significantly. The division I'll be using for inner and outer is Interstate 205, as that is where the precinct boundaries are most cooperative. Some people place the division at 82nd avenue, and my girlfriend would argue that anything east of 33rd is too far east, but given the general consensus around 82nd or I-205, this is the easiest place to place the border given precinct boundaries. On the west side of the Willamette River we have the Northwest and Southwest sections of Portland, with Burnside Street as the division.
I will also consider separately the sections of Portland which are not in Multnomah County. The vast majority of the city is located in Multnomah County. There are small pockets here and there, though, in Washington and Clackamas counties. While I do not have demographic data available for them, I do have political data.
Here is the best approximation I have of Portland's sections:
The inner east side is home to most of the trendy neighborhoods of Portland that you may hear about. And from Irvington through Laurelhurst, to Mount Tabor is generally a wealthier area with many nice old homes, and a few mansions. Quite a few big names in Portland politics live in that stretch. That's not surprising, as roughly 2/3 of Portlanders live in one of the eastern quadrants (and 2/3 of them in inner SE), and another perhaps 11-12% of Portlanders live in North Portland. Many of the inner areas resemble older, nicer suburbs, while the outer areas resemble more the rapid growth of the newer suburbs on the periphery of the metro area. The outer areas are newer to Portland and are seeing more rapid change in terms of population and politics. They are also poorer, lack trendy neighborhoods that the inner areas boast, and have most of the affordable housing in the city, and the dozens of miles of unpaved roads in Portland are disproportionately out there. One can easily analogize that to the lack of investment in many of the other public services in that area.
North Portland, and the westernmost parts of inner Northeast, were the traditionally African American part of town dating back to World War II when many African Americans moved there for work. North Portland has a lot of industry still, but gentrification in some areas (and in some areas as a result of intentional public policy) has pushed much of the African American population out. There's still a lot of lower-income folks there, though, and also a lot of funky local character. A disproportionate amount of the segments on Portlandia, for example, occur in North Portland. Locally African Americans are able to get elected to office, such as Lew Frederick, a state representative, and Loretta Smith, a county commissioner. They were able to get a nice MAX line stretching across the peninsula almost to the Columbia River, which goes to the Rose Quarter and then on to downtown and Portland State. In city government, though, most of the focus goes to, and preferences come from, the west side and the wealthier parts of the east.
The west side is much wealthier and whiter than the east side in general, and focus centers on the densely populated downtown in SW, plus the area adjacent in NW including the Pearl and Alphabet districts. Only about 1/5 Portlanders live on the west side. Most of my time in Portland is spent in the non-downtown parts of SW. I'm primarily at Lewis & Clark college's law school, which is not far from Lake Oswego. The west side is for those who can afford it, and I'm not one of them.
Inner Southeast Portland (yellow on my map) is the largest in terms of population, at in the area of 145,000. The area is very white, especially closer to the Willamette River, but in general is about 77% white, 2.5% black, 7.5% Hispanic, and over 8% Asian. There are many census blocks on the eastern periphery that have Asian and Hispanic populations in the teens, and some where the Asian population is up to 30%. This is one of the older parts of Portland, where only about 17% of residents are under 18.
In 2004 this section of Portland gave John Kerry 80.56% of the two party vote, making it almost D+32. In 2008 it gave Barack Obama 85.77% of the two party vote, making it slightly more than D+32. In 2012 it gave Obama 86.76% of the two party vote, making it almost D+35. While it did not significantly change between 2004 and 2008 relative to the rest of the nation, Obama's 2012 performance was very strong. This is one of the few places in Oregon that gave him more votes in 2012 than 2008.
Inner Northeast Portland (red on my map) is the next largest, at roughly 120,000 people. At still over 71% white, this section of the city is still overwhelmingly white, but relative to the rest of Oregon it's not too bad. Over 10.5% are black, over 8% are Hispanic, and over 5% are Asian, and it is slightly younger than inner Southeast, as a bit over 19% of residents are under 18.
In 2004 this section of Portland gave Kerry 82.93% of the two party vote, making it a little more than D+34. In 2008 it gave Obama 88.45% of the two party vote, making it almost D+35. In 2012 it gave Obama 88.16% of the two party vote, making it a bit above D+36. Obama's numbers held up while and there appears to be a slight movement towards Democrats from this data.
Here we have our first look at the outer east side, and the third largest section of Portland. Outer Southeast (gray on my map) has 85-90,000 people, with 27% of them being under 18. It is under 63% white, about 5.5% black, over 15% Hispanic, and a little under 12% Asian. The area is young and diversifying.
It also appears to be getting more Democratic. In 2004 this section gave Kerry 59.93% of the vote, making it about D+11. In 2008 this section gave Obama 66.91% of the vote, making it about D+13. In 2012 it gave Obama 66.53% of the vote, making it a bit less than D+15.
The only precincts in Portland that are represented in the legislature by a Republican are in the farthest southeastern ones here.
Southwest Portland (green on my map) is about the same size, but a little smaller than Outer Southeast. Only 11-12% of the residents, though are under 18. It is wealthier in general than much of Portland because of places like the West Hills and Downtown being here. It is also very very white, at 83%. It's a little over 2% black, and less than 6% Asian and 5% Hispanic.
It is also solidly Democratic. It gave Kerry 76.62% of the two party vote, or a little under D+28. It gave Obama 82.45% of the vote in 2008, making it nearly D+29. It gave Obama 80.35% of the vote in 2012, making it closer to D+28.
North & Northeast Portland are traditionally the home of the African American community in Portland, but gentrification is pushing many African Americans further east into Northeast, Outer Northeast, or the suburbs. There are about 67,000 people in North Portland (purple on my map). Less than 65% are white. Nearly 11 and a half percent of those folks are African American, over 13% are Hispanic, and nearly 5% are Asian. Nearly 20% are under 18.
This part of Portland is exhibiting a clear Democratic trend. In 2004 Kerry won it with 79.65%, making it almost D+31. In 2008 Obama won it with 86.77% of the vote, making it D+33. In 2012 Obama won it with 89.17%, making it more than D+35.
Outer Northeast Portland (teal on my map) has about 43,000 people, and is the least white of these parts of Portland, at about 62%. It is over 13% Hispanic, over 11% Asian, and nearly 9% black. More than 22% of residents are under 18.
In 2004 Kerry only got 59.46% of the vote here, making it less than D+11. In 2008 Obama got 66.01% here, making it above D+12. In 2012, though, Obama got 67.77% of the vote, notably better than his 2008 performance, which cranks it up to almost D+16.
Northwest Portland (blue on my map), despite it's overall size, has a population which is quite small. It's perhaps 30-32,000 people. It's also quite white, at above 81%, and less than 3% black, 5% Hispanic, and 6% Asian each. And only 11-12% of residents are under 18. While much of the NW is industrial, and the northern end is sparsely populated, it tends to be a wealthier part of town.
Northwest has not moved much recently relative to the nation as a whole. In 2004 Kerry got 81.47% of the vote there, making it almost D+33. In 2008 Obama got 86.22% of the vote in NW, making it again a bit under D+33. In 2012 Obama got about 81.77% of the vote, making it about D+30.
In 2004 and 2008 the number of votes cast in the Washington County precincts of Portland was a tiny share of the overall Portland vote: 790 and 781 votes out of a total of almost 295,000 votes in each year. These precincts are small and along the border of Multnomah County and parts of the Beaverton and Garden Home areas. In 2004 Kerry got 68.1% of the vote there, making it a bit over D+19. In 2008 Obama got about 76% of the vote, making it over D+22. In 2012 Obama got 72.23% of the vote, making it above D+20. This makes it a bit more Democratic than the most Democratic city in Washington County, Beaverton.
The number of votes cast in the Clackamas precincts is even lower and has become sparser. In 2004 only 470 votes were cast, compared to 434 in 2008 and 432 in 2012. These votes were cast in tiny little precincts scattered across the border from Milwaukie through Happy Valley. This is also consistently the least Democratic portion (if you're surprised you don't know Clackamas County). In 2004 Kerry got 53.83% of the vote in these precincts, making it almost exactly D+5. In 2008 Obama got 61.98% of the vote, making it about D+8. In 2012 Obama got 59.49% of the vote, making it about D+7.5. This is significantly less Democratic than the bluest city in Clackamas County, Milwaukie, which is more Democratic than outer east Portland as well.