Winpower Strategies

Winpower Strategies made a precinct map of the Referendum 1 results. I struggled for a while to figure out what narrative connects the (blue and purple) areas that voted no.

Then I found the map for McGinn’s mayoral victory in 2009. Aside from the University (influenced by a summer election?), by eyeball it seems to correlate pretty strongly.

82 Replies to “Deep Bore Tunnel Vote Map”

  1. Conservative districts tilted the vote with higher turnout than expected while liberal districts stayed home. Compare this map to the county exec race and gov’s race.

    1. The degree of passion is interesting. Opponents had a passionate core but didn’t get much of a rise from others. Proponents rode a wave of “just do it” votes.

      That lines up with what you’d expect. The tunnel isn’t the worst case scenario for very many people. But stopping, or building any other alternative, WOULD BE the worst case scenario for many people. Many viewed the surface option as armageddon. Many viewed an aerial replacement as armageddon. And pushing a new plan back a few years would be a big risk. That affected voter turnout, and it affected donations.

      I never heard what the final percentages were. But I’m guessing it would have been a decisive victory even with average turnouts…

      1. The timing of the vote favored the tunnel opponents. They were the passionate ones. People in favor weren’t passionate. It was mid-summer, with a lot of people on vacation, especially in the richer areas inclined to be pro-tunnel.

        What happened is that enough people were sufficiently irritated by the Boy Mayor and his crew that they paid attention. I’d put myself in that category. If McGinn endorsed the sunrise, I’d probably make sure to cast a ballot against it.

      2. Actually, given the inclination of these particular precincts and their higher-than-average turnout, it seems that in Referendum 1, a red tide swept “approve” to a comfortable margin. Compare this map to the KC Exec election or others like R-71, where support for republicans and opposition to typically liberal planks are highest in the strongest “approve” precincts.

        Meanwhile it looks like Cap Hill, enclaves in West Seattle and SE Seattle simply stayed home. This could indicate a sweeping success for the “don’t bother” argument more than any other. Malaise over the stadiums, the Council’s increasingly more contrarian “your vote doesn’t matter” rhetoric and other signs that the State simply doesn’t care about the problems with the tunnel, they just want to build the dang thing.

        It’s practically impossible to go through any multi-sided tunnel conversation without getting the “I don’t like the tunnel, but this vote doesn’t matter” wags.

        Peppering your spin with “many” to suggest an erratic majority on a contentious issue is just spicing up an irrelevant stew.

      3. AJ, I eagerly await your spin after the car tab increase gets ground into the carpet in two months. Mayhe you could hum a few bars for us here?

    2. How ironic the concept of “stayed home.” Didn’t we all stay home? :-) Tells us how truly lazy people are and the consequences for it.

  2. If you superimpose a line that traces the route of 99, 15th Ave NW and the West Seattle Bridge area or, in other words, the precincts that are the biggest stakeholders in the 99 replacement project, you will see a lot of light blue and green. In the north end of Seattle, the right side of the map is orange-yellow-green; the left side of the map is more blue-green. Same for the south end.

    It also looks like the more affluent neighborhoods were overwhelmingly in favor of Prop 1.

  3. I voted NO because I wanted a new or reinforced viaduct. Many of the NO votes were for that same reason.

    What this election showed is that the polls taken prior to it were accurate: the surface option had only about 20% support. Both sides, in their campaigns, tried to make the choice between tunnel and surface, which persuaded many elevated propoents to vote YES, because a tunnel is a lot better than nothing (surface).

    What this vote really showed is that a very large majority of Seattle voters want to be able to get around in their cars. The surface option was an effort to force people out of their cars, and Seattle voters overwhelmingly rejected that attempt to force people out of their cars.

    Had I been convinced that there really was no possibility of a viaduct, and that the vote was purely between a tunnel and surface, I would have voted YES, because at least the tunnel gives people an option to avoid surface streets downtown, even if it is much inferior to the viaduct.

    So, what this vote really meant was:

    Cars: YES
    Force people out of their cars: NO

    1. Voter turnout was less than 20%. I think the Nobody Cares either way message was much much stronger than the “Cars: Yes” message.

      1. But look at the polling before the votes. Basically they all showed the same thing: only about 20% of Seattle voters favored the “surface” (force people out of their cars) option.

        The actual vote backed this up.

  4. Are you able to do a real numbers analysis of correlation to the McGinn vote? It’s not obvious enough to me just by eye-balling the two maps.

    It makes more sense to me that this vote was about McGinn than it was about “Cars vs. Force People Out of Their Cars”. But I also think it was more about “Get on with it” than about McGinn. For all I know, people are weary of disasters and the WSDOT video really scared them.

    I’d rather see numeric analysis.

    1. I think it’s one in the same on McGinn and cars.

      He is widely seen as anti-automobile, and a tool of the hipster cyclistas. I don’t think he’s going to be able to shake that image. If you’re a Seattle bicyclista, Michael McGinn is your worst nightmare. He has accomplished what no one else could have: focused attention on the smug, self-entitled cyclista crowd, much to your electoral detriment.

      The $60 tab fee is going to be crushed because of all this. And I think you can safely kiss more bike lanes, etc., goodbye. It’s a real bitch to ride the wrong horse.

      1. Oh please, by definition there are more smug “motorists” than smug cyclists.

        I don’t see how anyone in their right mind could be anti-bicycle. They have very nearly zero environmental impact and don’t kill very many people last time I checked. Why is it when cars get 99% of the paved land in the country dedicated to them it isn’t self-entitled, but when bicyclists ask for bike lanes, they become self-entitled and anti-car?

      2. “It’s a real bitch to ride the wrong horse.”

        Wow, why are you trying to start a fight? You are the type of person that scares me, regardless of whether you are in a car, on a bike, or in a bus. You are following the righteous path and expect everyone to get on it.

        BTW, I walked to work today.

      3. Jake has a point. The $60 car tab tax is not going to pass. McGinn has done more harm to the cause than good.

      4. I think it’ll pass. McGinn won’t be out front because he’s unpopular. But the $60 is sensible (if inadequate) and covers a lot of stuff people like.

        This is Seattle. Regardless of what it looks like on news boards and blogs, stuff tends to pass.

      5. It’ll be interesting to watch the face of the smugsters around here on election night. “What?! Seattle told us to go to hell? But we’re such nice people!”

      6. If your argument is that Seattle is going to suddenly find religion on pro-car rhetoric, you’re about to get a rude awakening Jake.

      7. Get religion? Nah. But boy is it ever gonna be a hoot to watch ya cry yer eyes out. I love it when that happens, regardless of who it is. The Republicans did it when their boy Dino couldn’t get elected, and now you will do it when the voters fart in your general direction on your war against motorists. But hey, keep it up. See how well it works for ya.

      8. Anandakos, I can hear you now: “How could they? How could those stupid voters fail to see what nice people we are? Don’t they see that we know what’s best for them, the stupid assholes?”

        November’s gonna be a lot of fun. Whine on, harvest moon!

  5. Those are two very similar maps. After McGinn’s election, it was commented that the McGinn mayoral vote map correlated very strongly with geographics – hilltop/hillside neighborhoods with a view voted for Mallahan, while neighborhoods without voted for McGinn. It’s pretty easy to draw a property-value correlation there, and thus a reflection of wealth.

    The wealthy, who can afford to commute by car through the city (and pay parking, insurance, etc), voted for the tunnel. The poor, who cannot, voted against it.

    1. I supported McGinn originally. I believed him when he said he wouldn’t try to obstruct the tunnel. Which, by the way, I’ve never liked. I’d have much preferred to repair the existing viaduct, but it was clear a long time ago that this simply wasn’t going to happen.

      So it was either a tunnel or nothing. McGinn flat-out lied on that issue. Politicians lie all the time, but they’re usually smart enough to be vague about it, and then to read the signals all the way along. McGinn couldn’t do that. Instead, he has made it clear that he absolutely hates anyone who drives a car here.

      Well, guess what? Most of us drive, especially those of us who cast votes. So, even though I didn’t like the tunnel, I voted for it. And trust me, when it comes time to deal with McGinn, I’ll not just vote against him but will contribute money to his opponent. That’ll be a first for me in Seattle politics.

      You can thank Michael McGinn for my forthcoming involvement in Seattle politics. I doubt I’m alone. He is a disaster, and will be swept aside. He might even be recalled, if he doesn’t watch out. And those of you who think nothing has changed with respect to bicycles and street cars and other mass transit and urban planning boondoggles, you’d better think again.

      1. Why did you vote for him in the first place? Clearly your values don’t coincide with McGinn’s…at all. Besides his tunnel-neutral campaign position, where did you share common ground? If I were you I would have voted for any of his opponents.

      2. I must have missed the part where McGinn actually obstructed the tunnel in any way. Unless complaining about it counts as obstructing – he did that plenty.

      3. Brett, I’ve always tended to vote for the most liberal candidate without thinking much about it. That works on a national level, where liberal rarely means crazy. But in Seattle, it’s a different ballgame. Now I realize it.

      4. At the moment, there are no grounds. But give it time. The [ad hom] Mayor could get frustrated enough to really step in it, at which point the recall would happen. Or maybe he’ll just do the right thing and quit. Anyone know how bad the [ad hom] needs the salary?

    2. One more thing. Anyone who spends any amount of time in a car near Lake Union will be voting against anything that will fund the expansion of street cars. If you actually think people will vote to do that, then you have truly slip’d the surly bonds of earth and touched the face of God.

      If I were the McGinn/cyclista crowd, I’d do a 180 on that referendum and have it pulled off the ballot. Do you know what it means to “lead with your chin?” If not, you’re about to find out.

      1. I drive near Lake Union all the time. I’ll be voting for the vehicle fee.

        I like the phrase bicyclista that you’ve come up with. It’s very hip. First time I’ve heard it.

      2. Well, then I guess you’ve slip’d the surly bonds of earth and touched the face of God. It amazes me that you actually want to spend taxpayer money for more of those Paul Allen streetcars that totally screw up the place.

      3. Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait for a couple of months, then. God, the whine-fest on this blog will be beautiful to behold!

    3. “The wealthy, who can afford to commute by car through the city (and pay parking, insurance, etc), voted for the tunnel. The poor, who cannot, voted against it.”

      So, Capitol Hill is “poor” neighborhood? I honestly don’t know if it is or not, but it sure looks like a slum. I can’t stand Capitol Hill. The streets and sidewalks are filthy. Graffiti. Lots of bums. But there are some nice views from the hill.

      So, is Capitol Hill, which voted strongly against the tunnel a “poor” neighborhood? Or not?

      1. Depends on what part of capitol hill. The part with million dollar houses? The part packed with 1bd apartments? The condos on the cliffside with a view of Lake Union?

      2. The blue patches of capitol hill are primarily lower-end apartments. The green patches on capitol hill are primarily condos / SFRs. And the green patch on First Hill is higher-end apartments.

        But if you’re going to make me get more specific, according to the 2000 census, the part of Capitol hill I’m talking about has a median income in the 25k-50k range – basically the same as the entire southern portion of the city. By Seattle standards, that’s below average. I’d call it “poor” in comparison to the neighborhoods that voted Yes.

    4. So perhaps the message should have been “If you vote yes, your taxes will go up to fund a tunnel you’ll never use.”

      Problem is, the core of the NO forces were the super-liberal, latte-sipping, Capitol Hill hipsters who only know what they think.

  6. Wow. Green and Yellow precincts (50-69%) spread uniformly across the city. Huge win for the Yes forces.

    1. Also a huge failure on the part of the No forces.

      The average Seattle voter still believes that the tunnel will have downtown exits. The average Seattle voter still believes that the package includes transit funding. The average Seattle voter still believes it won’t be tolled. The average Seattle voter doesn’t know about the Seattle-pays-for-cost-overruns clause.

      Since the No campaign didn’t do so much as send out one flyer, and only nerdy blog readers bothered to dig into this issue, we really should have seen this coming from a mile away.

      I liked the first tunnel plan – cut and cover on the waterfront. It made sense to me, and had excellent synergy with the seawall replacement. I can live with this tunnel, even though I think it’s an oversized project. I’m mostly just worried about how Olympia is going to screw us.

      1. They should’ve just repaired the viaduct. Would’ve cost $800 million and lasted another 50 years. But fixing things is never glamorous, plus the downtown real estate pukes would’ve never settled for that.

        If there’s one amusement here, it’s the puncturing of Seattle’s “world class” pretense. Folks, the definition of a world-class city is one that can get someone else to pay for its boondoggles. That didn’t happen here. You can say that the state paid for this, but given King County’s outsized subsidy of the state government, I’d say that we pay for it one way or the other.

      2. I think the majority of voters knew the basics. Obviously many didn’t. On the flip side, the non-knowlegable ones might not be aware of how well a lot of big public jobs do compared to their budgets (520’s bridge components, Sound Transit’s tunnels, any school happening these days).

        Jake, speaking as a contractor (buildings, not viaducts), the retrofit seemed wildly implausible. I assume it would involve a whole new set of foudations tying to a new exoskeleton. Then a rebuild of the roadway platform, i.e. the structure below the pavement. This would be a huge project. The result would remain way below code both for the viaduct and for the existing tunnel, both of which are too narrow. It would look very different. And there’s no way in hell it would last 50 years.

        One retrofit proponent claimed that rising sea levels were a problem for the tunnel, and saving the viaduct was the solution. This was amusing. The viaduct’s legs would be in the water, and that would be corrosive salt water to boot! It would be easier to build an oval-shaped berm to protect one tunnel entrance (with road above) than to build protections for every column along the viaduct route. Of course we’ll probably end up raising the waterfront a few feet when it becomes necessary anyway, making it a non-issue aside from tsunami situations…fitting doors onto the entrance would solve that.

      3. matt hays, the retrofit proponents were a couple of retired state highway engineers with lots of experience. They didn’t hava a financial interest. They just wanted to do it quick and cheap. I believed ’em then, and still do.

        But it doesn’t matter, ’cause that one got shot down right away. It never had a chance. The contractors and the unions wanted a big, expensive project. The real estate pukes wanted more space. The eco freak types wanted nothing.

        So, in the end, it was a tunnel or nothing. Rotten choice. Repairing the viaduct made the most sense to me, but the #2 choice was a tunnel. The surface option was never an option as much as it was an attempt by the smugsters to make it as hard as possible to drive here.

      4. “Highway engineer” sounds impressive but it’s a small piece of the puzzle in figuring things out. Even if thse engineers happened to have professional knowledge of retrofits (most have very little, if any):

        1. Most engineers aren’t very connected to construction or mitigation of construction impacts, which would be a major cost element for a retrofit. Without construction knowledge, they’d only be guessing about how their concepts would be constructed, how much space would be needed, how long it would take, etc.

        2. Very little information was available about ground conditions or adjacent building conditions, factors with far more study on the tunnel. Another set of variables.

        3. I don’t think they even mentioned the Battery Street Tunnel. Or Aurora of course.

        The world is full of engineers with wild ideas, sort of like any scientific discipline does. In this case, unless you believe in conspiracy theories, WSDOT heard the idea, presumably came up with serious flaws, and didn’t see fit to study the idea in depth. That makes sense.

        The preservationists could have come up with a more professional analysis of some kind to help make their case. Maybe a few hundred hours by a team including the basic engineering disciplines and a builder or two. The fact that they didn’t is pretty damning evidence.

      5. Well, like I say, it doesn’t much matter. It’s been obvious for a long time that the fix was in for the tunnel. I didn’t like it, but Seattle’s a port city and no port city has clean government. We get what we get. At least it wasn’t the crazy surface option. We can agree on that, anyway. But when it comes to city government here, I don’t trust ’em one bit.

  7. Since it is now agreed that not only Seattle, but all of the state will be paying for “cost overruns”, I wonder how King County and the State might have voted on the project.

    1. Another thing the voters didn’t get was that much of the cost risk has passed. There are still cost risks of course. But the two past ones are huge:

      1. the initial contract price. The State lucked out by setting the contract price during today’s typical fire sale pricing environment.

      2. Design errors and omissions. It’s a design-build contract. Big advantage. Normally, the contractor can list the stuff the design team forgot and charge extra. With design-build, it’s their responsibility. Of course they probably covered their risk with a higher contract price, but now this variable is gone.

      3. Item 3 isn’t “past” but it’s probably #1 overall: The project scope isn’t changing. When projects explode in price, typically scope increases are a big part. In Boston it was stuff like “add a bridge over Charles River” and so on, coupled with 20 years of inflation.

      It passed handily even though the public didn’t know this stuff. Some people probably believed the “big dig” comparisons opponents claimed.

      1. Of course, a lowballed fixed-price contract leads to the final problem with the Big Dig: crappy construction quality.

        There are still pretty good odds of the contractor taking the money, half-finishing a tunnel which leaks, and then leaving. And what then?

        Well, then I guess the anti-tunnel forces “won”…

  8. It’d also be interesting to see a map of voter turnout: precinct by precinct what was the percentage of turnout?

      1. It’s almost like Seattle’s liberal hipster establishment decided to hold an election for their own amusement and to get the warm and fuzzy feeling of having done something. Did they actually want to win at all? Because it seems like they did everything wrong if they did.

      2. Same for the $60 car tab fee. They’ll lose that one, but at least they’ll claim the whining rights.

  9. would somebody please refresh my memory as to why a cut & cover tunnel along the waterfront was deemed inappropriate for SR99?

      1. It was rejected primarily due to severe construction pacts. Waterfront businesses would’ve essentially been shut down for a few years. There was no way to provide pedestrian access to and along the waterfront with the tunnel corridor torn up for construction.

        And yes, Lack, this was discussed.

      2. We are somehow going to be able to provide this access while the seawall is being rebuilt? I thought all the fill dirt in the corridor had to be dug out and replaced anyway.

        I don’t find this anywhere in WSDOT’s documents, but I’ll dig through them more after work.

      3. Seawall will be replaced in much smaller segments; much less disruptive. And I’ve never heard anything about replacing all the fill behind the seawall; no reason to disturb most of that, with the new tunnel going under downtown highrises, not along the waterfront.

      4. Lunch break!

        My understanding was the the low quality of the fill dirt used under Alaskan and the Viaduct was a major contributor to the earthquake hazard. It’s got a lot of sawdust and city garbage from a century ago mixed in with the actual dirt. I was under the impression that this is why there’s such a high risk of soil liquefaction, and that nothing built on top of it, from an elevated highway to a city street to a bike path, could be made properly earthquake safe. Nor could any seawall be earthquake safe with such unstable fill behind it.

        But if breaking the project up into segments is all that it takes to not disturb local businesses, the fill replacement can easily be broken up into segments like the seawall.

      1. If the cut and cover tunnel along the waterfront was axed because “pedestrian access” could not be provided and nobody called “foul”, everyone was asleep at the switch. Seattle got what it deserved.

        I lived in San Francisco during the BART tunnel construction down Market. That tunnel is four stories deep and consumed most of the width of Market. They just laid I-beams over the gap and decked over them. Cars were confined to the outer two lanes; buses and streetcars had the middle four as they do today.

        I’m sure the decking wasn’t cheap, but a new block could have the first six feet of fill dug out and the new deck thrown over the hole in less than a month. Then they would excavate around the pipes from the end open to the already excavated next section and hang the pipes from the I-beam lattice.

        Sure, it would have been impactful to dig along the waterfront, but it could have been done while keeping access across Alaskan Way.

        The biggest hurdle for a waterfront tunnel I saw was the enormous elevation change between the Battery Street tunnel floor and the floor of any tunnel under Alaskan Way. The grade up from the upper deck is steep enough. Add another fifty feet and you’ve really exceeded the standard gradients for freeway class roadways by quite a bit.

  10. Tim to move forward guys! Tunnel proponents by the way were just as passionate in their way as opponents were and some, like me, are pro-transit, but like me, they believe that being pro-transit means being able to support projects that get people moving efficiently from A to B sometimes via C, D or E.

    I am sure that most of the anti-tunnel areas also voted for McGinn in 2009 and probably will again in 2013. I hope not, but they probably will.

    1. I would be willing to make you an enforceable, public, money-escrowed $1,000 bet that McGinn doesn’t serve more than one term as mayor.

      1. I will support McGinn in 2013, but wouldn’t take that bet.

        He’s never going to get any sizable campaign contributions. All the big-money contributors were never behind him in the first place, and he’s pretty toxic right now to the causes he had behind him in ’09.

        The business establishment in this city is going to put one of their own back in office in 2013, and there’s no way McGinn can raise enough money to save his ass.

    2. Quite the pre-whine there, Tim. You seem to be forgetting that the [ad hom] Mayor has an approval rating of 23%. Your guy is less popular in Seattle than Barak Obama is among the ranchers of Eastern Oregon. But yeah, you keep telling yourself that “big business” did this to him. Do you realize just how stupid you sound?

      1. Not implying they did this too him. Just stating the obvious fact that they won’t support him.

      2. Neither will anyone else, other than his core constituents: the drunks, the beggars, the bicyclists, and the terminally stupid. Oh yeah, and the urban planners.

  11. I’m a liberal, an environmentalist, I earn less than $40K a year, and yet I voted for the tunnel. Happily too, I’m a full supporter and not just a “do something”-er. Guess I’m a terrible person.

      1. I actually,own a car, in fact I love to drive. I love to drive out on the open roads or on twisty mountain switchbacks, not in bumper-to-bumper traffic creeping up and down Seattle’s hilly terrain.

      2. Well, I’m not quite sure why you want to dig a giant tunnel which you will never use, and which according to studies practically nobody else will use either. Do you have an explanation?

        Of course, it does seem like a fait accompli. State government officials quite literally decided in a back room to build the deep bore tunnel, and to hell with the EIS process. So whatever, what will happen will happen. Big waste though.

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