Was Racially Polarized Voting On Display In Wash. Primary?

Sep 26, 2012

There’s more evidence that a Hispanic last name on the ballot can hurt a candidate’s chances. A statistical analysis released Wednesday reveals patterns of racially polarized voting in a Supreme Court race on Washington’s August primary.

Steve Gonzalez actively campaigned statewide to keep his seat on the Washington Supreme Court and spent some $300,000. His opponent, Bruce Danielson, raised no money and didn’t even campaign. Even so, Danielson outpolled Gonzalez two-to-one in some parts of the state. University of Washington political scientist Matt Barreto says a court-approved statistical analysis of the voting patterns reveals Gonzalez’s last name hurt him.

Barreto: “We now actually have data that shows very clearly that in places like Yakima and Grant counties and other counties in central Washington there was a clear racial correlation with the voting results.”

Gonzalez still won the vote statewide. Barreto is part of a coalition pushing for a controversial state Voting Rights Act. It would allow lawsuits against local governments where there’s evidence of racially polarized voting.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network