Thankfully, Salem's reputation as a conservative town has been undermined further with the recent release of November 2014 election results by precinct.
We now know that Salem resoundingly said Yes! to legalizing recreational marijuana via Measure 91: 53% vs. 47%.
Remember that this was a midterm election with a lower turnout than general elections, especially among liberal leaning folks. Thus these results likely underestimate Salem's support for Measure 91.
Here's a chart showing how Salem compared with Marion and Polk counties, plus Oregon.
Given the very strong Yes vote for Measure 91 in the Portland area, 90% in one precinct according to an Oregonian story that mapped the results, it isn't surprising that Salem lagged a bit behind Oregon as a whole in its support for legalizing marijuana.
However, Marion and Polk counties each rejected Measure 91 by a 48/52 vote. So as noted in my previous post, "Salem, Oregon is more liberal than many people think," (also made possible by results given me by a fellow political junkie):
Salem appears to be almost as liberal as all of Oregon, while being more liberal than the two counties that contain it.
This conclusion is borne out by Measure 91 results by ward in Salem.
As with the Obama/Romney vote in 2012, only Ward 4 and Ward 8 (far south Salem and west Salem) bucked the liberal trend in the other six wards. Wards 1 and 2 were the progressive hot spots in Salem this election also. Here's a ward map.
We can draw a couple of conclusions from these election results.
First, our so-called "community newspaper," the Statesman Journal, is out of touch with how Salemians feel about recreational marijuana. As I noted in a blog post, the paper's editorial opposing Measure 91 was so bad, it actually made the case for legalizing pot.
The times are a'changing, but not at the Statesman Journal -- which is part of the Gannett media empire and has become a near-clone of Gannett's USA Today: shallow and frothy with little substance, especially when it comes to local news.
Second, Salem's Mayor and City Council also don't reflect the views of the citizens they claim to represent. Medical marijuana dispensaries are being charged onerous fees by the City of Salem, which only recently lifted a ban on new dispensaries.
Yet it seems clear that if Salem voters were in favor of legalizing marijuana for all adults by a 53%/47% divide, making marijuana available for medical purposes probably has considerably more support.
Soon, I hope, Salem will have City officials who truly represent the majority of residents here.