Salem is Oregon's capital, the seat of state government. But no one would call it the capital of Oregon's vaunted liberalism/progressivism.
(In the 2014 midterms we were the only state that added to its Democratic majorities in the state House and Senate; we reelected a Democratic governor and U.S. Senator; and we legalized recreational marijuana. Yay, us!)
Rather, Salem lies between two cities with much stronger liberal reputations, Portland and Eugene. Salem has just about the same population of Eugene, but nowhere near its blue cool'ness. Portland kicks our butt in this regard to an even greater extent.
Which is kind of depressing for progressives like me who live in or near Salem. I was cheered up, though, after a fellow political junkie sent me some charts about how Salemians voted in the 2014 presidential election.
The chart above shows how Salem compared with Marion County, Polk County (the two counties comprising the Salem city limits), and Oregon. Salem voted for Obama by just 2% less than the state as a whole, 53% vs. 55%. Marion and Polk county voters as a whole went for Romney.
Thus Salem appears to be almost as liberal as all of Oregon, while being more liberal than the two counties that contain it.
Six of the eight wards went for Obama, two of them (wards 1 & 2) overwhelmingly. Only two wards, 4 and 8, cast a majority of votes for Romney. Yet even in conservative-leaning South Salem and West Salem, Obama got 46% and 48% respectively.
So Salem is more liberal/progressive than many people give the city credit for.
If Salemians voted for local officials such as the Mayor and City Councilors in the same political fashion as they voted in the last presidential election, this town would have a much more liberal-leaning city government than it does now.
I can only hope... for 2016.