The Mayor of Capitol Hill | Breaking down Capitol Hill’s McGinn-Murray divide

Bellevue at Republican -- one Capitol Hill checkpoint between Murray and McGinn country (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Bellevue at Republican — one Capitol Hill checkpoint between Murray and McGinn country (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

In Capitol Hill, incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn and Sen. Ed Murray are two Democrats separated by a Republican — street, that is. The Republican Street demarcation is also one that represents a split for the neighborhood at large when it comes to race, income, and housing. CHS previously reported on the border war playing out along the north-south divide between the two candidates for mayor, a divide that in many ways is a microcosm for the race citywide.

“Income is much more of a factor than anything else,” said local political analyst, Ben Anderstone, who created this heat map using primary vote data. “Murray’s strongest blocks were affluent voters.”

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Source: Seattle Times

In the primary, Murray dominated the wealthier homeowner precincts in north Capitol Hill as McGinn took the apartment and food+drink saturated precincts in the central part of the neighborhood. The Capitol Hill split was easily the starkest among any other neighborhood in the city, and strongly resembled the McGinn-Mallahan split from the 2009 general election.

McGinn no doubt continued to charm many Hill voters during his recent CHS interview, where he discussed plans for cheaper housing through density, expanded transportation, and extended bar hours.

McGinn’s Capitol Hill base can be found just north and south of Madison, where he doubled Murray votes in several precincts. A similar area was found to be the fastest growing in the neighborhood since 2000. Zooming in further on primary votes, the heart of Pike/Pine went decisively to McGinn, who took 51% of the vote along Pike east of Broadway. However, Murray is still a strong contender in the area. Go west of Broadway to the adjacent precinct and Murray only trailed McGinn by 2 points. Murray is practically a shoe-in on the far east and north sides, particularly around Volunteer Park.

In this race, Murray is the establishment candidate after 18 years representing the Hill in the legislature. In his pre-primary interview with CHS Murray made a point of selling his coalition building skills — partially as a rebuke on the mayor’s stubborn style, which may have less appeal to north-of-Republican dwellers.

The candidates’ respective strongholds within the same neighborhood featuring a range demographics underscores the strangeness of this year’s mayors race: The densest parts of Seattle’s gayborhood turned out for the candidate who did not spend two decades fighting for gay rights, and the city’s most urban-residential neighborhood, Belltown, went to the candidate generally seen as the weaker “urbanist”.

So what can be gleaned from Capitol Hill’s Republican Street divide? First, income does matter. Just take a 10 minute walk north along Harvard crossing Republican to get a sense of the wide span of incomes in the Capitol Hill and what’s partially behind the McGinn-Murray divide.

14th and Prospect -- Murray support grows around Volunteer Park

14th and Prospect — Murray support grows around Volunteer Park

While not broken out by geography, the most recent polling showed McGinn surveyed much stronger with voters who made less than $40K annually, while Murray dominated the $80K plus crowd.

If the election for Seattle mayor were today, who would you vote for? Mike McGinn? Or Ed Murray?

Picture 5Housing type inevitably correlates to income. As one would expect on the Hill, Murray did strongest in areas with more homeowners and those in single-family homes. McGinn was most popular in areas dense with apartments and mid-rise buildings.

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General zoning map showing single-family zones in light yellow and low-rise and mid-rise zones in dark yellow. (Image: City of Seattle)

Looking at this zoning overview map, you can see lighter yellow areas are zoned for single family homes and darker yellow are zoned for low-rise and mid-rise buildings. The Capitol Hill housing split correlates strongly to how the primary vote broke down. Also take a look at West Seattle (PDF), where Murray did very strong overall but McGinn was able to carve out a pocket of support around The Junction.

Racial demographics are another intriguing factor hard to ignore in the race for mayor of Capitol Hill. The north side of the Hill has very few blacks as compared to the central and eastern areas, especially along Madison where the Hill runs into the Central District. The census tracts around Volunteer Park, where Murray did the best, is just 2-3% black, as compared to the the McGinn strongholds further south, where blacks represent from 7 to 14% of the population.

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Density of kids in central Seattle. (Image: City of Seattle)

Parents (or parents with several kids) may lean slightly towards Murray citywide, but on Capitol Hill kids don’t appear to be a helpful vote predictor. Capitol Hill’s most kid-dense census tract — east of 15th between Roy and Galer — has an 18-and-under population that represents between a fifth and a quarter of the total population. That area was nearly split evenly between McGinn and Murray. The rest of Capitol Hill has a comparatively low kid count by census tract, making it difficult to determine where moms and dads go in the race.

Another X-factor playing out in Capitol Hill is the sometimes understated but highly coveted Stranger endorsement. Sandeep Kaushik, a consultant for the Murray camp, said the Stranger’s support for McGinn may have stymied Murray’s push further into Capitol Hill.

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Another point in the divide — head south to McGinn-land

“The Stranger is a strong supporter of Mike McGinn and with younger voters in the Pike/Pine corridor, that helped moved votes for the mayor,” Kaushik said.

Looking towards the general election, precincts that went to Bruce Harrell, particularly those in the Central District, will likely be key for both candidates. According to Anderstone, it’s not a foregone conclusion where Harrell’s Central District block will go in the general election as the neighborhood becomes increasingly whiter and wealthier.

While Peter Steinbrueck had a relatively poor primary showing in Capitol Hill, he garnered enough support in a few places that McGinn would do well to pay attention to those precincts. According to Anderstone, Steinbruck posted around 17% along the Broadway corridor — enough of a chunk to swing some precincts to Murray if McGinn can pick-up at least some of that vote.

Despite Murray’s solid posistion following the lastest poll numbers, Kaushik said the campaign will continue to focus on central Seattle up until Nov. 5. “It’s not a done deal, it’s going to be a battle and it’s going to be a battle in places like Capitol Hill,” he said.

Hear Murray and McGinn talk about their respective Captiol Hill bases and their ideas for the neighborhood at the upcoming mayor’s forum at Barboza.