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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Biden made some Spokane precincts bluer, Trump made some redder – and some flipped

Since Election Night, Spokane residents’ choices in the presidential election have been clear.

City residents went strongly for Democrat Joe Biden, the former vice president. The county as a whole backed Republican Donald Trump, the incumbent.

The extent of that support and any shifts from the presidential election of 2016 weren’t clear until tens of thousands of votes placed in drop boxes or mailed on Election Day were counted and the results certified this week.

Some numbers to consider:

Trump got more votes than he did four years ago, but Biden did better than Hillary Clinton, narrowing the gap significantly between the two candidates.

Trump beat Clinton by 19,643 votes in 2016. He had 50% of the vote, compared to her 41%. (The rest was spread among five minor party candidates and some write-ins.)

Trump beat Biden by 12,733 votes this year, even though he collected about 35,000 more votes than four years ago, because Biden got about 42,000 more than Clinton. Trump wound up with 50%, Biden with 46%, and there were about half as many votes for other candidates.

The increases in the raw vote totals are partly a result of record voter turnout for an election in Spokane County, with 60,000 more ballots cast. That’s in line with the rest of the state, and most of the country.

But Biden also closed the gap in Spokane by capturing more precincts Trump won in 2016, compared to the precincts that went for Clinton four years ago but this year went for Trump.

A computer analysis of the voting results creates a map showing an island of Democratic blue in and near the city of Spokane, surrounded by a sea of Republican red in the surrounding suburbs and rural precincts.

For the computer analysis, we used Spokane County elections data, omitting the votes for other candidates because no minor party candidate won a Spokane precinct. It strictly compared Trump and Biden head-to-head in each precinct.

The map shows Biden did significantly better in the city of Spokane than Clinton, winning 26 precincts that went for Trump in 2016. The bulk of those precincts were on Spokane’s north side, from Hillyard to Indian Trail, with some on the South Hill or in south suburbs.

Hillyard was the most volatile part of the county, just as it was in 2016, when many precincts that picked Barack Obama over Mitt Romney in 2012 went for Trump over Clinton. But Trump won two Hillyard precincts that he lost in 2016. He also picked up a precinct in Millwood that Clinton won.

One Trump precinct in 2016 wound up in a tie this year, with 375 votes for each candidate.

Each candidate also won some precincts by larger margins, so Republican-leaning precincts got redder and some Democratic-leaning precincts got bluer. Trump margins improved in rural areas, while Biden margins got better on the South Hill.