Forty years later and seven presidents selected, Clallam County seems to know how to pick them.
Multiple news outlets and election trackers confirm Clallam’s choices as the longest accurate streak in the nation since 1980, when residents chose Ronald Reagan.
With the Clallam County Auditor’s Office reporting about 1,800 ballots left to count as of press time Tuesday, President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris received 50.4 percent (23,801) to incumbent President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence’s 46.7 percent (22,050). Clallam has an 82.5 percent turnout as of Nov. 10.
According to the Secretary of State’s website, Clallam voters chose the president every time except in 1976 (Gerald Ford, rather than Jimmy Carter), and 1968 (Hubert Humphrey, rather than Richard Nixon) with county voter data for presidential elections unavailable prior to 1936 by press time.
In interviews with the Peninsula Daily News, Dick Pilling, former chair of the Clallam County Republican Party and present state committeeman, commented on the county’s “perfect string” and joked, “Maybe we could just dispense with all this election nonsense and just poll Clallam.”
Liz Bumgarner, chair of the Clallam County Democratic Party, said the county is home to a large variety of people who are independent, proactive and solution-oriented.
“They are people who don’t sit around saying, ‘Oh woe is me.’ … It’s not only that they’re smart; the people who are here — small business people, farmers, people who have been here for years — are used to taking action.”
Here’s a look at Washington compared to Clallam’s voting trends in previous presidential elections through 1980:
State: Hillary Clinton 54.3 percent; Trump 38.1 percent
Clallam: Trump 47.6 percent; Clinton 44.8 percent
State: Barack Obama 56.2 percent; Mitt Romney 41.3 percent
Clallam: Obama 48.8 percent; Romney 48.4 percent
Note: a difference of 143 votes
State: Obama 57.7 percent; John McCain 40.5 percent
Clallam: Obama 50.6 percent; McCain 47.3 percent
State: John Kerry 52.8 percent; George W. Bush 45.6 percent
Clallam: Bush 18,871; Kerry 17,049 (other votes, percentages unavailable)
State: Al Gore 50.2 percent; George W. Bush 44.6 percent
Clallam: Bush 49.5 percent; Gore 42 percent
State: Bill Clinton 49.8 percent; Bob Dole 37.3 percent
County: Clinton 42.6 percent;Dole 42.1 percent
Note: a difference of 153 votes
State: Clinton 43.4 percent; George H.W. Bush 31.2 percent; Ross Perot 23.7 percent
Clallam: Clinton 37.7 percent; Bush 34.1 percent; Perot 27.1 percent
State: Michael Dukakis 50.1 percent; Bush 48.5 percent
Clallam: Bush 49.1 percent; Dukakis 48.8 percent
Note: a difference of 77 votes
State: Ronald Reagan 55.8 percent; Walter Mondale 42.9 percent
Clallam: Reagan 57.3 percent; Mondale 40.9 percent
State: Reagan 49.7 percent; Jimmy Carter 37.3 percent
Clallam: Reagan 51.6 percent; Carter 36 percent
What about Sequim?
Despite Clallam’s picking abilities, precincts in the Sequim School District boundaries don’t appear to align with the rest of the county.
Available precinct data on the county’s elections website dates back to 1996 for presidential voting per precinct, which shows the Sequim area leaned Republican every four years, from 1996-2016.
Bob Dole (1996), George W. Bush (2000, 2004), and Mitt Romney (2012) won nearly two-three times more Sequim-area precincts than their Democratic challengers. However, John McCain won one more precinct than Barack Obama in 2008, and Trump won four more than Hilary Clinton four years ago.
Precinct totals might not be as revealing though, as population totals vary. For example, Trump edged Clinton by 284 votes in the Sequim precincts in Clallam.
So far, Biden won 25 of Sequim’s Clallam precincts to Trump’s seven.
Of those, two are significantly narrow leads among neighborhoods, with a difference of two votes (for Biden) in Monterra and six (for Trump) in Prairie North.
In the City of Sequim’s six precincts, all favored Biden as of Tuesday by 838 more votes. Those same precincts leaned Democratic in 2016 too, by a smaller margin: 222 votes. The precincts split in 2012, however, with 11 votes more in the city going to Romney.
For more information on local races, visit clallam.net/elections and www.sos.wa.gov/elections.
Executive Editor Leah Leach and Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb of the Peninsula Daily News contributed to this story.