There is a wrongful narrative in the community that Freeport is a conservative city. I hypothesize that the conservative small towns surrounding Freeport is what creates this commonly held fallacy. To demonstrate, I researched popular vote data from recent elections, along with precinct voting data. It is important to study local precinct data, rather than just the local popular vote–especially when studying presidential elections. The Electoral College does not operate on a popular vote basis; thus, it is necessary to analyze presidential election results in a similar way. When analyzing election results on a local scale, voting precinct data is a good place to start. For this article, I am essentially turning Freeport into a microcosm of the US–a good way to think about this is to imagine each precinct as a state.
Like state citizenship, individuals’ precincts are determined upon the voter’s address. What I found was that the majority of Freeport’s voting precincts go blue. The graph “Freeport’s Voting Precinct Pattern in Recent Presidential Elections” demonstrates this trend. In the last five elections, the majority of all Freeport’s voting precincts have voted Democratically. In fact, in 2008, 95% of all Freeport’s precincts went blue. Although the average percentage of precincts voting majority Democrat in Freeport is lower than that, it is still incredibly high compared to the rest of the county. In fact, in most presidential elections, Freeport is the only city in Stephenson county with a precinct that votes majority Democrat. For example, in the elections of 2000, 2004, 2012, and 2016, Freeport was the only place in the county with a Democratically voting precinct. However, do not let this undermine your perception of the strength of the Democratic Party in the county. Even though Freeport is only one city in Stephenson County, in 2016, 47% of all voters were from Freeport, despite having low voter turnout. Freeport’s vote is incredibly important in the region.
But, like the Electoral College, I acknowledge that this is not the best way to analyze the political lean of an electorate as land does not vote, but rather people. For example, many of the precincts that voted Democratically, only did so on the basis of a few votes. As the chart “Freeport Voting Trend” demonstrates, the gap between Republican and Democratic votes is not as drastic as precinct data. But then why do these differences occur? As previously mentioned, there were some precincts that went blue on the matter of a few votes, and like the Electoral College, the precinct model is a winner-take-all system. However, the claim that Freeport is a blue city is still supported. In four of the last five presidential elections, a majority of Freeport voters voted Democratically. Yes, there have been close elections, but the data still indicates a liberal lean.
So, if precincts are not a good way to analyze the political tendencies of a constituency, why do it? My findings illustrate a unique aspect about Freeport. Geographically, voters are not politically segregated throughout the city, unlike the US. For example, a quick Google search will show you blue, red, and purple states and the geographic patterns that come with it. In metropolitan regions with big cities you will find that states are more Democratic than Republican (see the East and West Coast states), and in regions that are more rural, you will find that states are more Republican than Democratic (see parts of the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states). If Freeport voters were politically segregated we would expect the graph, “Freeport’s Voting Precinct Pattern in Recent Presidential Elections” to be more reflective of the graph, “Freeport Voting Trend.” But, that is clearly not the case. This indicates that Democrats and Republicans are not geographically segregated as they are in the US–which is interesting because like the US, Freeport has both rural and urban regions. In conclusion, Freeport is a blue city, despite that the rest of the county tries to mask it.
“Farah Tolu-Honary is a graduate of Freeport High School and now studies political science and international relations at Beloit College. Issues most important to her include climate change, income inequality, and foreign affairs.”