Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fresno County-Voted Twice for Obama

President Obama won Fresno County in 2012, with vote-by-mail ballots counted in the final days putting him ahead of Republican "Mitt" Romney.  Obama is the first Democratic presidential nominee to win Fresno County twice since Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s.

Obama won Fresno County by 5,691 ballots in 2008 (Obama 136,706 vs. McCain 131,015).  In 2012, he won it by a slightly narrower margin, 4,639 votes (Obama 129,129 vs. Romney 124,490).

Fresno County was a Democratic stalwart in the mid-20th century.  Between the Herbert Hoover landslide of 1928 and the Ronald Reagan landslide of 1980, Fresno County voted for a Republican for president just once -- Richard Nixon in his 1972 re-election landslide.  From 1980 to 2004, Fresno County was reliably Republican, favoring a Democrat in just one presidential election (a narrow win for Bill Clinton in 1992).

The San Joaquin Valley voted more Democratic than the nation in the 1950s and '60s.  Adlai Stevenson won eight California counties, including Fresno, Madera and Kings, in 1952.  Stevenson won thirteen California counties, including Fresno, Madera, Kings, Merced and Stanislaus, in 1956.  Hubert Humphrey won 21 California counties in 1968, including Fresno, Madera, Kings, Merced and Stanislaus.  Into the 1980s, Fresno County was competitive.  In 1988, Democrat Michael Dukakis narrowly lost Fresno County (94,835 Bush vs. 92,635 Dukakis).

On General Election Day, 2012, Registrar of Voters Brandi Orth operated "drive-thru" vote-by-mail ballot return locations at nine sites across the county.  They were open during the same eleven hours as polling places.

Agribusiness is the foundation of the Fresno County economy.  The 2007 U.S. Census of Agriculture found that Fresno County was the top county in the nation in terms of total value of agricultural products sold ($3.73 billion).  Fresno County was no. 2 in the country in terms of "value of crops" and no. 4 in terms of "value of livestock, poultry and their products sold."  Its 6,081 farms covered 1.6 million acres of farmland.  Fresno County grew the most acres of grapes and tomatoes in the nation in 2007.

Final 2012 election results for California show that just three counties shifted from favoring Obama in 2008 to supporting Romney in 2012: Butte, Nevada and Trinity.