Jackson is a county divided
A strong north-south political schism continues to dominate Jackson County based on an analysis of the 2020 presidential election results.
A New York Times interactive map of voting precincts in Jackson County shows most of the county remains solidly red, including a good chunk of Medford, while the south part of the county, particularly around Ashland and Talent, tracks deep blue.
Former President Donald Trump won Jackson County, but President Joe Biden garnered a bigger share of the vote than Hillary Clinton in 2016.
In 2016, Trump won Jackson County with 49.27% of the vote to Clinton’s 40.66%. The remaining votes went to third-party or write-in candidates.
Trump expanded his lead slightly in the county to 50.23% in 2020, but Biden received 46.77% of the vote, about 6% more than Clinton.
To view the Times map, go to nytimes.com/interactive/2021/upshot/2020-election-map.html.
Jacksonville, which typically voted red a couple of decades ago, is now firmly in the blue camp, with Biden beating Trump there by 15 points. Rural areas outside of Jacksonville voted for Trump.
A large precinct that includes Ruch gave the former president a 5.5 point lead, but just to the west another precinct that includes Applegate gave Biden a 3-point edge.
Three precincts in south Medford voted overwhelmingly for Biden.
The precinct surrounding Rogue Valley Manor but south of Barnett Road shows Biden with an 8.4-point edge. The precinct just north of the Manor had Biden ahead by 14 points. Another precinct just to the west, which crosses Interstate 5, had Biden up 9 points.
The strongest support for Trump in Medford came from a precinct that is roughly bisected by Delta Waters Road, which gave the former president a 16-point lead. A neighboring precinct that includes the Medford airport gave Trump a 10-point lead.
Central Point precincts overwhelmingly supported Trump, giving him a 25- to almost 40-point lead.
White City and nearby rural areas gave the former president a 51-point lead over Biden. Eagle Point and other rural areas to the north generally had up to a 50-point advantage for Trump.
Ashland proved again that it is the epicenter of blue in the county, with Biden up more than 70 points over Trump. Areas surrounding Ashland, including Talent, had Biden ahead by up to 40 points.
Phoenix also went blue, giving Biden a 13-point lead, but a large precinct that surrounds Phoenix gave Trump a very slight 0.4-point edge.
Neighboring counties are more red than Jackson. All of Klamath County’s precincts voted for Trump by a large margin.
Josephine County, with the exception of a precinct surrounding Williams, was firmly in the red. Douglas County was a Trump stronghold.
Along the coast, the voting patterns were mixed. Brookings and much of the nearby areas went red, but Port Orford, Bandon and surrounding areas went blue.
Apart from one precinct in north Coos Bay, the precincts surrounding this coastal city voted overwhelmingly for Trump.
In general, Jackson County has some of the bluest areas in Southern Oregon. The closest area with significant populations of voters who voted for Biden is Lane County, particularly around Eugene.
Cathy Shaw, an Ashland author and retired democratic political strategist, said the voting patterns in Jackson County reflect a trend that is occurring throughout the nation.
“People want to live next door to people who share a political ideology, or go to the same church or their kids go to the same schools,” she said.
Senate District 3, which encompasses all of south county including Medford, is an example of how this portion of the county has trended blue, she said.
When the late Sen. Alan Bates won the district in 2004, he faced a 6-point registration advantage for Republicans.
By the time Sen. Jeff Golden ran in 2018, the district had a 12-point registration advantage for Democrats.
Most of the county is fairly well locked in to the Republican or Democratic camps, she said, except for the precinct surrounding the Manor, which can swing in either political direction depending on the issues and candidates. People there are typically well educated, well informed and supportive of education.
“They are a bit of an anomaly,” she said.
The county still has almost 4,000 more Republicans than Democrats, but the single largest block of voters is the nonaffiliated voters.
In the future, Shaw said, she’ll be closely watching Jackson County’s largest city, which could eventually determine the political direction of this area.
“The thing that will determine whether Jackson County turns Democratic is Medford,” she said.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.