Washington’s polarized political landscape has long been seen in the results of statewide elections, with counties around Puget Sound reliably Democratic blue and those east of the Cascades solidly Republican red in votes for president, governor or the U.S. Senate.

Cornell Clayton.

“The urban-rural sorting has been taking place for years,” said Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute of Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University. Democrats have increasingly become the party of urban cosmopolitan voters and Republicans a rural nationalist party.

“In the suburbs, that’s where the battles have been waged,” he said.

Clayton agreed that the shift isn’t tied solely to Trump and his impact on the political landscape: “Trump is a symptom as much as a cause.”

As long as the parties are aligned with issues that speak to a voter’s cultural identity, it’s probably less likely that they will “split their ticket” between Democratic and Republican candidates, he said.

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