Adams County, Washington

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Adams County, Washington
Image:WA_Adams.png

Adams County is a county in the state of Washington.

Adams County is both Washington's poorest county on a per-capita income basis and also the most Hispanic as of the 2000 Census, with a growth that suggests that it is now majority-Hispanic. Much of this can be attributed to the use of Mexican immigrants as farm labourers in the area. However, these immigrants do not contribute significantly to Adams County's voting patterns. Unlike the Hispanic areas in Yakima County, Adams County's heavily Hispanic area still deliver Republican results; it is generally the strongest county in Washington for the Republicans.

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Political Demographics

The city of Othello (est. pop. 6,221) in the westernmost "panhandle" of the county holds a significant proportion of the Hispanic population, with nearly two-thirds of residents reporting Latino ancestry. By contrast, Ritzville (est. pop. 1,721) is just less than 1/40th Hispanic. Despite the significant demographic differences, Othello cast votes just over 2-to-1 for Bush in 2004; Ritzville was only slightly more Republican.

Adams County falls relatively in the middle for the extent to which the Hispanic population is established. The 2000 Census reported that 47.1 percent of the population as Hispanic, while only 17.4 percent of the population is non-citizen[1]. However, 41.4 percent of the population is reported as speaking Spanish instead of English at home, suggesting that the vast majority of Hispanics in Adams County do not speak English at home. Studies report that turnout among citizen Hispanics is generally low, especially among those in jobs such as farm labour[2].

Voting Patterns

Adams County is staunchly Republican. It supported Democrat Brian Sonntag's landslide bid for State Auditor in 1996, but voted for party-unendorsed Republican Will Baker in 2004 by a fairly solid margin. Although it does tend to be the most Republican county in competitive elections, its Republican population is sometimes more swayed in landslides than those of other counties. Sonntag failed to carry Grant and Douglas counties. However, in Maria Cantwell's 2006 mini-landslide, Adams County was the only area where Republican Mike McGavick broke 60 percent.

There were 31 precincts in Adams County in 2004. George W. Bush carried all of them by solid margins. Local races are somewhat more competitive. Democratic Secretary of State candidate Laura Ruderman carried a rural precinct just outside of Othello while losing to incumbent Republican Sam Reed in 2004. Othello #3, the only other precinct where Kerry broke 40 percent, is also sometimes competitive in close state races.

Outside of these areas, Republicans mostly dominate. Rural areas are little-populated but, without exception, cast heavily Republican votes. They are very similar to farming areas in neighbouring Lincoln County.

Adams County is among Washington's poorest counties. On economically liberal propositions successful enough to avoid being associated with liberal or Democratic politics, Adams County oftentimes will vote the "liberal" track. On 2006's Washington Initiative 920, which repealed the estate tax (affecting only multi-million estates with exceptions for farms), 57 percent of county voters voted against the repeal (the measure failed statewide with 62 percent opposing). However, the county also passed Washington Initiative 933, concerning property rights, with 57 percent, while 59 percent of state voters rejected it.

Adams County's social issue initiative voting has been consistently conservative, in 1998 rejecting the popular Initiative 692 to allow medical marijuana, and passing the unpopular Initiative 694 to ban partial-birth abortions.

Adams County has not supported a Democrat for President since 1936.

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