Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Revisiting the Politics and Demographics of Bay Area Enclavism

By Robert Stark

There is more nuance to the image of the Bay Area as a blue monolith. In the 2020 Democratic primary election, affluent suburban White communities were divided between Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg, and Asian areas were divided between Bernie Sanders, Bloomberg, and Biden. Sanders’ strength was in urban areas, Hispanic areas, much of the Silicon Valley, and even pockets of support among wealthy areas in San Francisco and Marin. Elizabeth Warren’s support came from areas most stereotyped as leftwing but more affluent than those for Sanders. With the 2020 general election, Biden won overwhelming, with much of San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley voting for Biden by 80-90% margins. Trump’s only strong support was in rural far eastern Contra Costa County. However, Biden only won by narrow margins around Alamo and Danville, which used to be a “Country Club Republican” stronghold that turned blue in the 2010s.

Source: LA Times

There is also more nuance among affluent White liberals than stereotyped. With the affirmative action vote, most of the White areas of San Francisco voted for affirmative action. Ultra-White Marin, voted yes as a county, the affluent White areas of San Mateo County were divided, Berkeley Hills was staunchly for it, Piedmont supported it more tepidly, and Contra County voted against it as a county. The SF Progressive Voter Index classifies the majority White Marina District and Pacific Heights as moderate, while the Castro, Haight Ashbury, and Noe Valley as ultra-left, alongside the mostly Latino Mission District. However, those areas of SF classified as moderate voted for affirmative action, albeit more tepidly than other parts of the City. Ranking the Bay Area’s affluent White areas from the most woke to moderate, I would place SF and the Berkeley Hills first, then Marin County, with Sausalito and Mill Valley the most liberal, while Tiburon and Kentfield/Ross are more moderate. Then the Peninsula, Los Gatos, and Piedmont, and then inland East Bay suburbs, such as Lafayette and Danville, as the most moderate.


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