The Daily Pulse:

Knox County by Precinct: Tuesday's tapestry of a complicated community

For decades, I used to look forward to picking up the News Sentinel the Thursday after a presidential election, to scour the precinct reports, the listing of how each precinct voted. It's easier to find one's own vote there, sometimes in sharp relief.

Maybe more importantly, it's a dependably fascinating political census of our disarmingly complicated community. Knox County includes precincts--neighborhoods, if you'd like--that are several degrees bluer than Massachusetts, and precincts that are several degrees redder than Utah.

The daily didn't publish those precinct totals this time, perhaps because it's now all readily available online, at Knox County Election Commission's website. If you're a geek about political figures, it may keep you occupied for several hours.

To those who've been following them for a long time, most of our voting patterns aren't very surprising. We vote pretty consistently every four years. 

The most Democratic neighborhood on Tuesday was Precinct 12, the one that votes at historic Eastport School, now a senior citizens center in East Knoxville, near the historic Oddfellows Cemetery and Potters Field. With a big turnout of 1263-44, Eastport went 95.61 percent for Obama.

Its opposite, Gap Creek, in the very rural southeastern corner of the county, is once again the most Republican precinct in Knox, went 82.65 percent for Romney, just 15.16 percent for Obama.

Gap Creek is Precinct 92. In general, the higher your precinct number, the more rural your neighborhood, and the more Republican you are.

People who've bothered to count up all the votes in Knoxville precincts over the years--the exact total will be a guess at best, because some precincts straddle city limits lines--have repeatedly noted that, for years, the city of Knoxville itself votes Democratic in presidential elections, even as Knox County always tilts decidedly Republican. That seems to have been the case this time. Just adding up urban precincts up to Precinct 30--the precincts that comprise the core of Knoxville, including even including historically Republican Sequoyah Hills--Obama beat Romney almost two to one, 15,113 to 8,795.

Romney did win Sequoyah, by the way, by a landslide if not a blowout, 56.89 percent to 41.41 percent. Sequoyah's rarely more extreme than that, kind of like Fountain City, which always looks Republican, but just in a gentlemanly sort of way. (Fountain City Library went Romney, 510 to 442.

Going west beyond Sequoyah, adjacent Bearden often tilts Democratic, as did West High's precincts and Bearden Elementary. But get just past Bearden Hill, and 70-30 or even 80-20 splits favoring Republicans become more the norm. In general, the farther out into the country you go, the wider the gap gets.

By the way, speaking of gaps, the most evenly divided precinct in Knox County this year is Pond Gap School, near Bearden, where Obama had the slightest edge over Romney 493-475. I think they've earned that distinction before. Almost as close was the South Knoxville Community Center, which was a pro-Romney squeaker, and 68E, one of three precincts headquartered at Cedar Bluff Middle. Though that one comes with an asterisk that Cedar Bluff's other two precincts were much vaster Republican sweeps.

A few precincts are so Democratic that Troy Goodale beat perennial incumbent Jimmy Duncan for a seat in Congress. But this time it's interesting to see how the Green Party, designated on the ballot for the first time, showed on the precinct level. In the most ambitious race for a local Green contender, the U.S. Senate race against incumbent Corker that lacked a legit Democratic nominee, Green nominee Martin Pleasant, a Knoxville resident who earned less than 2 percent statewide, got double-digit percentages in several urban Knoxville precincts, especially Fort Sanders, John T. O'Connor Center, Green School (where most downtown residents vote, Green natually likes the Green Party), but most impressively at Central United Methodist, in the Fourth and Gill area, where Pleasant tolled 21.26 percent of the vote, almost two-thirds as much as the popular incumbent Corker won there, and maybe the highest precinct percentage any Green Party candidate has ever gotten.

However, the winner in that histocially liberal precinct and several other historically Democratic districts was the loony right-wing Democrat Mark Clayton, which only goes to show that we in the press didn't adequately do our job in getting the word out about that character, who from what little we know about him sounds pretty spooky, so far off the right-wing map he'd give Jimmy Duncan the heebie-jeebies.

Have a look for yourself at knoxcounty.org/election/, for further evidence that we're a more complicated place than we first appear.

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