Saturday, November 27, 2021

Four questions from the last election in map form (Fall 2021 edition)

 1. Did Talauna Reed's strategy of encouraging voting in high density apartment complexes work? 

2. Why did Reed get a post-primary bounce in SE Olympia?

And, it is more than the bottom line result that she did not win. When I look at the maps, she didn't move the needle in the neighborhoods with large apartment buildings. I had seen this approach being promoted on social media, and I was incredibly interested to see if it would work (in a winning result) or move the needle (by improving her returns in neighborhoods with more large apartment buildings).

First off, here is the map for her overall vote percentage:


Her best precincts were basically on the Eastside north of the highway and on the near-in Westside. Only one of these precincts (the blue one furthest west) has a collection of larger apartment buildings. 

Since I heard about the approach to focus on larger apartment buildings after the primary, I think looking at the change in raw votes and percentage change would be important. This is especially true since the primary finished very close between Lisa Parshley, Reed and Wendy Carlson. This meant that Carlson's large number of voters (for someone who didn't advance) were up for grabs.

First, here is the percentage change:


And here is the raw number of votes change:


And here you might start seeing a pattern with higher turnout with apartment dwellers. On the far Eastside by the hospital and down South of Ken Lake there might be some movement. 

But what is also consistent in these two maps in the handful of SE Olympia precincts where overall Reed did not do well. They also had large movements toward her during the primary to general shift. These are places where Carlson had a lot of votes to give up after she didn't make it through the primary. And despite not doing well, Reed picked up a fair amount of votes.

3. What is the meaning of the weirdest countywide map I have ever seen?

Eight years ago, I thought I'd seen the weirdest map ever when Sue Gunn won both extremely rural and conservative precincts and urban and liberal precincts. 

For a reference of how a Thurston County results map should look like, look at the Amy Evans/Joel Hanson for Port Commission map. Hanson is in blue, Evans in red.


Here you see the traditional urban to rural way these maps are organized. Hanson does better in the urban center of Olympia, while Evans does better in the rural areas and builds in towards Olympia. The battleground are the suburban belts around Olympia, including Lacey, Tumwater and a bit further out. From this map, you can see Evans won this by limiting Hanson's precincts to largely inside Olympia.

But, would someone please explain to me this? This is the Bob Iyall (blue) and Jesse Simmons (red) race for Olympia Port Commission: 


As normal, Iyall did do pretty well in the middle of the map. And, if you told me that Iyall did really well in Olympia, but Simmons bossed all of Lacey, I would have said this map was a lot closer than what it was. Here, it seems like it is the rest of the county vs. Lacey. I have never seen a map in Thurston County where a candidate does really well in Lacey and isn't able to translate that into better results elsewhere in the suburban belt or either in the urban core of Olympia or out in the rural areas.

4. Why did the right lane candidates have such varied success across the map?

I didn't want to do election results maps for the other city of Olympia races, because they all seemed to follow the same pattern of conservative candidates doing well on the far Westside and SE Olympia  and the eventual winners doing well everywhere else. I did do Reed's race because as the only one left in the progressive lane, she was unique. 

Well, what I did do was map the precincts won by any or all of the candidates in the right-hand lane. Candi Mercer didn't win any precincts, so she's not on this map.


The three remaining (Weigand, Kesler and Gauny) won several precincts in SE Olympia together. Weigand and Kesler then combined to win a couple more on the SE side and on the far Westside (both traditional conservative-for-Olympia territory). Kesler then won two on her own, both on the edges of town. Weigand in blue then picked up the rest of SE Olympia and the far Westside. He also won an inside precinct that includes the East Bay Harbor condominiums. 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Forgetting Thanksgiving Island



A week or so ago, Feliks Banel put out a challenge to find the origin of the name of Thanksgiving Island. Thanksgiving Island was a small piece of land that you can see on some old maps on the stretch of the Columbia River between the Gorge and where the Snake joins. The image of an "Island of Thanksgiving" stokes the imagination. But the actual history of the naming is pretty pedestrian.

I think I ended up winning the challenge by finding a 1968 Oregonian article that covered geographic features that would disappear after the inundation by the John Day Dam reservoir. According to the article, Thanksgiving Island was named after an event. A steamboat landed on the island on Thanksgiving. That is a pretty normal sounding explanation, especially when you cross-reference the steamboat era of the Columbia River with when Thanksgiving as a national holiday was first coming into focus.

Thanksgiving Island disappeared under thousands of cubic feet of water of the John Day reservoir in 1971. Because even when it did exist, it was an island in a river, its existence was always temporary. These kinds of islands are formed and destroyed by erosion and sedimentation caused by the river moving back and forth across its flood plain, cutting new channels. 

Even without the John Day covering an entire landscape, that Thanksgiving Island would still exist today is an open question.

And this ethereal existence of Thanksgiving Island gives us a useful way to think about history, how we know anything in history and what we do with it.

Thanksgiving Island itself is interesting not because it tells us anything about ourselves, but because it was the only Thanksgiving Island recorded, and it is late November and people think about these kinds of things now. But there is a lot more to know about that particular stretch of the Columbia that we have forgotten.

During my internet searching to solve Feliks' mystery challenge, I came across this personal history by Sam H. Gill, the "oldest living steamboat engineer" on the Columbia River. In his history, he recounts the details of a massacre at Thanksgiving Island that I'd already heard about and wrote up here.

During the Bannock and Paiute War in 1878, the U.S. Army outfitted a steamboat with a Gatling gun and set it to patrol the Columbia. Lt. Mellville C. Wilkinson commanded the gunboat Northwest as he and his crew patrolled the Columbia River. Wilkinson’s mission was to prevent a tribe from the Oregon side from crossing to Washington. He would commit one of the countless under-recorded massacres of Indians by American soldiers.

According to Gill, the Thanksgiving Island Massacre was quick and cruel:

In the afternoon when we had reached Thanksgiving Island, a band of Indians with a large number of horses were discovered on the north bank, evidently coming west. At this locality, there are a series of three high hills presenting rounded fronts and sloping down to the narrow flat area between the base of the hills and the river. The hill separated by deep draws or canyons which is the general formation of the Washington shore in this section.

On first sight of the Indians, they were just coming up out of the draws and crossing the front of the next intervening hill. They were about two miles upstream from us and perhaps 500 feet up the hillside. They were evidently surprised at seeing the boat and began hastening to the next draw, for a hiding place.

When the Indians didn't respond to the whistle of the steamboat to stop running, "the Gatling gun was prepared and brought into action... The capacity of the gun is 400 shots a minute, and we fired at them for several minutes."

Michael McKenzie writing in the Columbia magazine in 2008 recounts that even at that time, what Lt. Wilkinson commanded his troops to do was not universally supported:

Steaming down from Wallula, he fired his artillery and Gatling gun without the slightest provocation into a group of peaceful natives camped there, killing at least two men and one woman, wounding others, and laying waste to the entire camp. Even some of the settlers of the period reacted to his action with distaste, (A.D.) Pambrun calling it a "massacre" and stating flatly that "there was no excuse" for what Wilkinson had done. The following month the Walla Walla Union heaped scorn on the lieutenant’s action...

Massacre survivor Jim Soh-yowit in 1917 told his story to historian L.V. McWhorter

...a band of Indians crossed the Columbia at Oom-i-tal-lum and pitched camp on the Washington shore. There were women and children in this camp, all peaceable, the men not having many arms. A steamboat came down the river, and without any warning opened fire on us with what seemed a machine gun. A man named Wah-la-lowie, belonging at La-qwe on the Columbia, was shot in the belly and killed. He was a middle-aged man. A middle aged women named Wah-lul-mi from Ti-che-chim, on the Columbia, was shot in the forehead, and fell dead. The Indians scattered and hid. 
I had a single breech-loading rifle which I grabbed and ran among the rocks and lay so they could not see me. A few horses were killed. They fired at where I lay hid but did not reach me. Finally the boat went away without landing. Indians lost a lot of things, for they did not try to gather up their belongings.

Shaw-ou-way-coot-shy-ah to McWhorter:

The white people from The Dalles, they all organized and got guns and got a steamboat and went up to the village and they killed all the old people, [who] don’t do nothing, all the old ladies and all the old men and before these Indians got back to their home they were all dead so part of them went up to the Umatilla River and then part of them went up the Columbia River and crossed the Columbia River …and they came there to a white man and his wife and some of the Indians says, "Here the white people have killed our fathers and mothers and they were not doing any harm, now I am going to kill this white man to make even."

The murder Shaw-ou-way-coot-shy-ah talked about is the much better documented revenge killing a few days later of two white people.

We know why Wilkinson's Thanksgiving Island Massacre is forgotten and the murder of  Blanche Bunting Perkins and Lorenzo Perkins is remembered. It is the same reason we keep up the statue of John R. Rogers and say nice things about Senator Slade Gorton after he dies.

The history we know is skewed. We don't write down nearly enough, and we seek to remember the things that keep us near our already existing legends. And, pulling the ends of history, so we can better understand episodes as clearly misremembered as the Whitman murders, is hard.

Every historian should feel chastened by the last election in Virginia. The common trope is that one of the reasons Democrats did not do well was because voters were afraid of how history will be taught in schools. Targeting the 1619 Project puts the continued understanding of history in the bulls-eye. There is a real force behind not continuing to research the years our civilization has existed, because the information we surface is contrary to the accepted narrative.

We absolutely forgot why Thanksgiving Island was named what it was. We also forgot the Thanksgiving Island Massacre. But we didn't forget the Perkinses. And knowing what we know and why we know it helps us see ourselves and the harm we caused. And if we find echos of that harm in our lives and our communities, we can try to make it better.

A good apology includes two things: an explanation of what you did wrong and what you will do to fix it.

And like the geomorphology nature of Thanksgiving Island and the landscape capture of the John Day dam reservoir, our understanding of what happened in the past has ebbed and intensified.

To be honest, the name Thanksgiving Island is trivia. It was a fun adventure, it gave me a chance to chat with a cool historian, but it doesn't help us move forward. 

Re-remembering the Massacre of Thanksgiving Island is much more instructive. It gives us a peak into the brutality of the Bannock and Paiute War and how our country came to dominate our region. Knowing what we did is the first part of a good apology. Knowing what harm we created.

The second part of a good apology is much harder.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Where Olympia has become less black in the past 10 years

 Last month I put up a couple of posts featuring maps that explore population growth in Olympia over the last decade.

The first map showed the uneven distribution of population growth across the city. The second map took a look at the change in the percentage of white people in the last ten years on the neighborhood level. 

I was thinking about the second map today and realized I may have done a disservice by using change in white population to properly illustrate change in race. It is true, Olympia overall has gotten more diverse in the last 10 years. The white population has barely budged from 38,000 (around 82 percent in 2010) to around 39,000 (75 percent in 2020). At the same time, the black population has increased from 931 (2 percent) to 1,340 (3 percent).

But it is important to note where that population increase has occurred. In fact, in some neighborhoods, the black population has decreased in the past 10 years, while the black population citywide has increased.

The most growth seems to be in neighborhoods I've discussed before. For example, I am not surprised at all that block group 105.1 (the blue section in the bottom left of the Westside) showed a large increase in percentage of black residents. The far Eastside near St. Peter's also doesn't surprise me.

All the neighborhoods marked in red saw a decrease in black population. These neighborhoods follow the same trend as the previous map on population growth. The neighborhoods that didn't grow in the past 10 years also saw a decline in black population.

Again, there are outliers, but the relationship between the population increase in neighborhoods and the change in the number of black people living there is real. Here is population change charted against change in black population as a percentage:


2020 marked the close of the last decade of a long-term experiment we played in Olympia. We closed off growth in many Olympia neighborhoods beginning in the 1980s by systematically downzoning predominantly older, single-famly home neighborhoods. This was to prevent the spread of multi-family housing and the creation of "ghettos." The Housing Options Plan passed right after the census data was collected largely reversed these downzones city-wide. 

You can find my data sources in the posts below. Here is my crosswalk file for this map.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

More growth means more diversity for Olympia neighborhoods (more maps with census data!)

Every single block group in Olympia declined in the percentage of "white only" respondents. This isn't saying a great deal. Olympia's most diverse neighborhood is 62 percent white, it's least diverse is 90 percent white.

Taking Thurston County's rate of diversification (going from over 80 percent white to just over 70 percent) as a measuring stick, I was able to rate Olympia neighborhoods. Neighborhoods in the map below in a shade of blue diversified more than Thurston County, in orange, less than.

Taking the map from yesterday, there seems to be fairly strong correlation between neighborhoods that did not grow in the past 10 years and retained their lack of diversity (when compared to the rest of the county).  

In fact, when you take the raw data (population change vs. racial makeup change), you see a trend towards neighborhoods that grew less staying whiter.

There are definitely some neighborhoods that run counter to the trend. But, citywide, the neighborhoods that grew were the ones that became more diverse.

I included technical notes in my previous post on population growth by neighborhood if you want more information about how I got here. I did though update my crosswalk document to include the race data that I used in this post.

Saturday, October 02, 2021

Where Olympia didn't grow (and even lost population) in the last 10 years (this time with census data!)

Olympia's neighborhoods saw varying patterns of population growth and contraction over the past 10 years. 

Olympia grew by almost 10,000 residents and Thurston County as a whole grew by over 40,000 in the 2010s. Obviously population growth is not evenly spread across the county. But it is amazing to see that while the population of our community grows, there are neighborhoods so walled off by exclusive zoning, that they were able to fend off this growth.

I'm convinced that the slow and declining growth in population in these neighborhoods is the on-the-ground impact of exclusive single-family zoning. After years of work, Olympia finally passed zoning rules at the end of the decade that ended this kind of zoning. 

You can see below that the story isn't nearly as simple as "single family neighborhoods shank/didn't grow and multifamily neighborhoods grew." The 2010s did seem to serve as a natural experiment of what the long-term impacts this zoning had on neighborhoods. 

Olympia started clamping down on neighborhood multifamily housing (like duplexes and cottage apartments) in the late 1970s. The 2010s were the fourth decade of this kind of enforced low density, and the recently released census data gives us a way to examine its impacts. 

Here is the map I ended up with:


Here is what I take away from this map:

1. The vast majority of Olympia grew very little. I colored block groups that didn't increase more than 100 people in yellow. And, these block groups make up most of this map. While these areas did grow, it is worth noting that they did not grow very much.

2. The neighborhoods that shrank were a mix of housing types. Especially, the two block groups on the Westside include a significant number of apartments. It is worth noting that the apartments and other multifamily zoning there are older structures.

3. Except for downtown, all of Olympia's growth happened on the edges. For a few block groups, especially on the far east edge of Olympia and on the Westside along 101, this is where a significant number of new apartment buildings are being built. While a lot of attention has been paid to multifamily housing downtown (which has brought in new residents), the real driver of Olympia's new population are less flashy apartments along the edges.

I wrote more about the apartments being built on the Westside last year, illustrating how multifamily housing on the edges of Olympia are driving racial segregation. 

A few notes on how I did this work:
  • I did a similar examination a couple of years ago using American Community Survey data. While I found similar shrinking neighborhoods then too, the ACS data is an extrapolation of survey data, and is less precise than the census headcount. 
  • Block groups are just about the narrowest geography you can assess changes in population change across Olympia. I had to cross-walk a few block groups that had broken in smaller pieces. I posted my notes on that in this spreadsheet.
  • The data and shape files are the OFM datasets of the recent census release.
  • Because I did the cross-walk, the geographies I mapped were the 2010 block groups, since I combined the 2020 block groups.
  • The block groups I picked do not line up with the borders of the city exactly. In places where I had to choose, I chose to go over the border of the city.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

How proposed legislative and congressional redistricting maps impact Olympia and Thurston County

Starting last week, redistricting commissioners in Washington State have been releasing proposed maps for legislative and congressional districts. 

Democratic appointees April Sims and Brady PiƱero Walkinshaw and Republican appointees Paul Graves and Jo Fain have taken different approaches to moving borders in Thurston County and around Olympia. In this post I'll take a look at the legislative and congressional proposals, taking a zoomed in look at what they could mean for our community

The need for all of these legislative maps is to shrink the 22nd District, it is about 7,000 people too large by its current boarders. Alternatively, the districts that the 22nd traditionally borders (the 35th and 20th) are both underpopulated by a few thousand. Each of the proposed maps approaches this task in different ways. 

The Graves and Walkinshaw maps approach by taking similar routes. First Graves:


Then Walkinshaw:


Both of these move various rural districts into different combinations of southern Thurston County and let the 35th district in Mason County take up more of mid-suburban Thurston County and Cooper Point. The 22nd District is going to become more compact, and its interesting that most of the mapmakers are taking off the west side and leaving urban Lacey largely inside the district. 

In addition to Lacey/Olympia balance, taking the Cooper Point peninsula out of the 22nd would leave Evergreen State College out of the 22nd for the first time in history.

This includes the College precinct, which is the most dependably Democratic district in the county. While one precinct hardly a legislative district makes, it is interesting to see it on the other side of the line.

Another note about Walkinshaw's legislative map. In it, the 35th takes up so much of Thurston County, I would be super curious what the population split between Mason and Thurston County is. The 35th has traditionally been a Mason County district, but in this map, I think Thurston County might make up the majority of the population.

Sims' map for the 22nd is the most outlandish, in my opinion:

Take a closer look:


The map takes away so much of the Westside that is literally splits the City of Olympia in two! There isn't a lot I can really say about this map other than to say that I don't think that's a great idea.

Compared to that, Fain's map isn't very fun at all. Of all four, it maintains the current 22nd district the most:


Nothing much to see here.

Speaking of nothing much to see here, and moving on to the Congressional District maps, here is Sims' proposal for the 10th in Thurston County:


This is a fairly status quo map, which pretty much keeps the congressional district lines in Thurston County the same while carving Mason County out of the 10th, making it a strictly Thurston/Pierce county district. Like the 22nd, the 10th is also slightly overpopulated and needs to shrink to maintain proportionality. 

Walkinshaw's map for the 10th is downright fascinating:


I mean, that's simple.

It is the same as Sims' in that the 10th becomes a Pierce/Thurston district, but it takes in *all* of Thurston County. I have to admit, I like how simplistic that becomes.

Graves' proposal for Thurston County is by far the most radical:


It would remove the 10th congressional district from Thurston County altogether and move it into Pierce and King counties. Then, Thurston County would be carved up between three more competitive districts. Oddly, while this 6th district would stretch from Olympia out and around the Olympic Peninsula, including the entire Kitsap Peninsula, it would still be a fairly safe Democratic district. This surprises me, but that's according to commissioner Graves

Fain's congressional map is a split between Sims' and Graves' in how it treats Thurston County.


The 10th still makes it all the way south to Olympia, but the 6th and the 8th still split up the rest of the county.

Most fascinating about the Republican maps is how they treat the SE portion of Lacey. Both map separate Lacey proper with at least a portion of the Lacey UGA from the city.

Graves:


Fain:


What I can say about this technique is that it is a small example in our county for Republican mapmakers to stretch rural districts as far into suburban precincts, without breaking up Lacey.

Monday, September 06, 2021

What the network graph of campaign contributions tells us about the Olympia City Council races


Over the last few days, I've been pulling down Public Disclosure Commission data and putting together a network graph of financial contributions among city council candidates. This illustrates the flow of individual contributions to campaigns and between candidates. This shows, in a broad sense, of how candidates are connected by who is contributing to them. I took some care to clean up the data (so contributors aren't showing up more than once) but there might be some small errors.

 


1. There definitely are three primary lanes in the races. Or at least there was before the winnowing of candidates in the August Primary. I'd been using a shorthand to think about candidates running for city council. They were either in the right-hand side, mainline/incumbent or left-hand side lane.

Turns out the contributors thought the same thing. Contributions for all the right-hand side candidates (Mercer, Gauny, Kesler, Weigand and Carlson), mainline (Cooper, Gilman, Huynh, Parshley and Payne ) and left-hand (Wilkinson, Destasio, Reed and Brown) are generally distinct from each other. When there are connections, they are connected through the mainline group. There were a lot of contributors that gave to multiple candidates, but mainly to either the left or right and the mainline. Out of more than 1,200 individual contributors, there was only one that gave to both left and right.

2. The mainline group is much more cohesive than either the left or the right. This makes sense that the middle would be cohesive, most of them serve on the city council now. They're also contributing to each others' campaigns. But, the lack of cohesion between the other lanes, when there policy positions seem so well in sync, seems weird. 

This would also explain the mismatched results in the primary. No mainline candidates failed to advance, but only one from the left lane advanced and one from the right failed to advance.

3. Just poke around, see what you find. There are a lot of random things to see in the chart. 

  •  Port of Olympia candidates are spreading their money to candidates on the right and the mainline lanes.
  • There is a contributor that gave to both Payne and Weigand.
  • The "bridging" candidates that hold the most contributors that span lanes are Kesler (right to center) and Gilman (left to right). This shouldn't surprise me, but it is fun to see it illustrated.