Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008 | A wide majority of voters in San Diego’s liberal mid-city and southeastern regions agreed on one thing last Election Day: Barack Obama deserved to be president. They gave him the highest levels of support in the city.

But the two areas of the city went in opposite directions on Proposition 8, the anti-gay-marriage initiative that the president-elect opposed. According to an analysis of election records, no other parts of the city produced more lopsided results.

How San Diego Voted
Click on the map to see which San Diego precincts went most heavily for Barack Obama and which went most heavily for John McCain

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Source: San Diego County Registrar of Voters

More than two-thirds of mid-city voters opposed Prop. 8, while those in the minority-dominated southeastern San Diego supported it by about the same margin. This mirrors statewide exit poll results that suggest black and Latino voters helped provide crucial support to Prop. 8.

The analysis reveals which of the city of San Diego’s 924 precincts and City Council districts went the most for Obama or Republican nominee Sen. John McCain, and which supported or opposed Prop. 8 by the largest margins.

San Diego City Council District 4, which encompasses much of southeastern San Diego and traditionally elects a black council member, supported Prop. 8 with the highest levels in the city — about two-thirds in favor. Its voters also gave the second-highest margin of support to Obama of any of the eight council districts, awarding him 71 percent of the vote.

Only District Three, which encompasses mid-city neighborhoods like Hillcrest and Normal Heights, gave Obama more support: 78 percent. But its voters rejected Prop. 8 by the largest margin in the city, with 72 percent voting against.

Exit polls suggested that blacks in California supported Prop. 8 by a margin of 70 percent to 30 percent and Latinos by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent. Political commentators attributed the levels of support to the conservative views on some social issues held by many black and Latino voters.

Prop. 8 ultimately passed with 52 percent of the vote statewide.

The election results reveal how voters can confound the expectations of journalists who “tend to treat people in various groups has as being homogenous and fitting into ideological boxes,” said Brian Adams, a political science professor at San Diego State University.

Just because black voters tend to vote Democratic doesn’t mean they lean to the left on every issue, he said.

In fact, The New York Times reported that a review of Gallup poll data found that the views of African-Americans on moral issues “are virtually indistinguishable from those of Republicans.”

The analysis of the official citywide results also reveals that:

  • McCain did the best in San Diego City Council District 5, which includes wealthy parts of North County that are within the city limits. He got 48 percent of the vote in the district.

On an individual precinct level, McCain scored the best in five precincts in Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Peñasquitos and Scripps Ranch. He got the highest percentage of the vote in any precinct in the city — 63 percent — in a precinct next to the Rancho Bernardo Inn Golf Course.

  • Precincts in the southeastern San Diego neighborhoods of Lincoln Park, Mountain View, Mount Hope and Lomita handed the largest margins of victory to Obama, giving him at least 90 percent of the vote. Four of the top Obama precincts are clustered near Imperial Avenue and Interstate 805.
  • The highest margins of support for Prop. 8 came in five southeastern San Diego precincts in Paradise Hills, North Bay Terraces and South Bay Terraces; they all supported the initiative with at least 72 percent of the vote.
  • Voters in the top Obama precincts gave heavy support to Prop. 8. For example, a precinct with a polling place on Logan Avenue just east of the 805 gave Obama his highest victory percentage in the city — 92 percent — and supported Prop. 8 by a wide margin of 78 percent to 22 percent.
  • Not surprisingly, five precincts in the gay and lesbian strongholds of Hillcrest and North Park voted against Prop. 8 by the largest margins in the city.

Randy Dotinga is a San Diego-based freelance writer. Please contact him directly at with your thoughts, ideas, personal stories or tips. Or set the tone of the debate with a letter to the editor.

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