Published In


Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2005


Referendum -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Voting -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Elections -- Oregon -- Demographics


The author examined how the residents in the five-county region of the metropolitan area (Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, and Yamhill) voted in the 2004 general election on selected ballot measures in order to understand the political values of the neighborhoods in which we live. Using geographic information systems (GIS), we mapped the distribution of votes by election precinct on what we thought were three of the most revealing measures: the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages (Measure 36), the initiative requiring state and local governments to pay landowners when land-use restrictions reduce property value (Measure 37), and the constitutional amendment limiting non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits (Measure 35). In general, the maps revealed what most political observers already know about the metropolitan area: there is a polarization of voters in the region, with the more urban areas tending to be more liberal than the rural ones, and with the suburbs falling somewhere in between. Yet the maps reveal that there are important differences from neighborhood to neighborhood, and that the polarization is not as strong on some issues.


Originally appeared in the Winter 2005 edition of Metroscape, published by the Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies, Portland State University.

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