Mower County votes more Democratic than ever
By Tim Ruzek
Post-Bulletin, Austin MN
Mower County turned a darker shade of blue this presidential election, but mostly just in the Austin area, according to Tuesday’s state voting figures.
That means Austin and the surrounding townships gave strong support this year to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, now headed to the White House in January.
Eastern and northern Mower County, however, have retained more support for Republican presidential candidates based on the 2004 and 2008 races.
State Sen. Dan Sparks, a DFLer from Austin, said he thinks that the presidential maps likely are on the right track for the county’s political affiliations — more liberal in the western, Austin area and more conservative to the east and north.
Sparks, who wasn’t up for election this year, said that’s also what typically has been seen in state legislative election maps.
It seems the "further to the east you get, it does get to be a little bit more conservative," Sparks said, although he couldn’t give specific reasons.
Sometimes, he said, rural areas have conservative values.
Austin, usually considered more of a "blue-collar, working town," historically has voted Democratic, Sparks said.
The Austin area makes up more than half of the county’s population.
This year, about 60 percent of Mower County voters (11,605 votes) backed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, with another 37 percent (7,075 votes) supporting Republican candidate John McCain.
Nearly 2 percent — 309 votes — went to Independent Ralph Nader.
In the ’04 presidential race, about 61 percent of Mower County voters (12,334 votes) supported Democrat John Kerry, with another 38 percent (7,591 votes) going Republican for President Bush’s re-election bid.
For that race, about 1 percent or 153 votes went for Nader, a Better Life candidate at the time.