A breakdown of last month’s presidential election vote further reinforces the sharp political boundary the Interstate 435 beltway has become in Johnson County.
“When you look at Johnson County over the last decade the big divide is the 435 loop,” said Patrick Miller, a political science professor at the University of Kansas. “Clinton won most of the territory within that area.”
It’s a very different Johnson County south and west of I-435. That sprawling area is solidly Republican although Miller said a bit of blue is creeping across 435.
“That will be a trend to watch,” he observed.
The overall Johnson County vote had President-elect Donald Trump defeating Hillary Clinton with 46.7 percent of the vote vs. 44.1 percent.
Trump’s greatest level of support in Johnson County was 78 percent in one Overland Park precinct, his lowest was 20 percent in a Roeland Park precinct.
Clinton’s best performance was 68 percent in one precinct in Fairway, her lowest was 24 percent in an Overland Park precinct.
In the Third District Congressional race, which includes Johnson, Wyandotte and part of Miami counties, incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder defeated his challenger Jay Sidie with 51.3 percent of the vote vs. 40.6 percent.
Sidie failed to win his own home turf of Mission Woods, losing to Yoder by 11 votes, 61-50.
The average voter turnout for the county was 73 percent. It ranged from a high of 85 percent in one Mission precinct to a low of 53 percent in one precinct in Overland Park.
Miller attributed the difference in voting patterns between Northeast Johnson County and the rest of Johnson County to different demographic patterns. Northeast JoCo has a comparatively higher education and income level, he said.
And people have different preferences about how and where they want to live.
“People who tend to identify themselves as more conservative look at bigger home lots, aren’t as interested in pubic transportation, larger cities or walkable communities,” he said. “They look at areas like Olathe, Gardener and south Overland Park.”
Those choosing to live inside the 435 loop tend to be more interested in walkable neighborhoods and being close the big city amenities of Kansas City. The area also has a younger and more diverse population, Miller said.
“People look for different kinds of cities and unconsciously form different ideologies,” he said.
Miller also said what’s happening in Johnson County also is occurring in other metropolitan areas around the country with more Democrats being found in the older suburbs while Republicans trend toward the exurban area.