Grogan’s point, though, is interesting. Trump’s visit to Southern California — anchored not there but in Las Vegas, where the president stayed at his privately owned hotel — was a visit to a region where Trump himself is not very popular. It’s hard to call a place like Los Angeles “enemy territory” when some 770,000 people who live there voted for Trump in 2016, but it’s clearly not the sort of place where the notoriously criticism-averse president would want to spend a whole lot of time.
The tweet is nonetheless an interesting reminder that there are lots of pockets across the country in which Americans might feel as though they’re eking out an existence while surrounded by their political opponents. Republicans in Manhattan or Democrats in rural Wyoming are in the minority in their communities, and in a moment as polarized and toxic as this one, that can’t always be a pleasant state of affairs.
In Los Angeles County, the area that perhaps best fits that description of being an “occupied territory” is the Leona Valley. It’s in the northern part of the county and is home to the voting precinct that in 2016 voted most heavily for Trump relative to the state overall, among precincts in which at least 100 people voted. That’s not where Trump went during his visit to the region, but it’s probably the place both where he’d have had the warmest reception and the place where Grogan’s phrasing might have seemed most apt.
Leona Valley, though, is not the place in California that broke the most dramatically with the state overall. Among places in which at least 100 people voted, that prize goes to Precinct 7041507 in Kern County, a bit north of Los Angeles in California’s sprawling Central Valley. There, voters preferred Trump to Hillary Clinton by an 89-percentage-point margin compared with the state’s 30-point preference for Clinton overall. This precinct in Kern County, in other words, deviated from the state by 119 percentage points — the widest deviation from a blue state for any Trump-voting precinct of more than 100 voters in the United States.
The widest deviation overall, though, came from a Clinton-voting precinct in a red state. West Virginia backed Trump by 42 points in 2016, but a precinct in the southwestern city of Beckley, Raleigh County Precinct 17, preferred Clinton by a 91-point margin. That’s a spread of 132 points, the biggest difference between any precinct with more than 100 voters and the state in which it sits.
Each state has a precinct that stands as a similar outlier, if not in scale. They tend to fit certain patterns. In blue states, the precincts that deviate the most from the state tend to be rural and are often adjacent to red states. In red states, the Clinton-friendliest precincts are often in cities.
The “occupied territory” precincts in Oregon and Idaho offer a good example of that pattern. The precinct with the biggest deviation from Idaho on the whole is from a small precinct in northeast Boise, where voters preferred Clinton by 64 points. The precinct that deviated the most from Oregon overall is in the southeastern part of Oregon, on the Idaho border.
It’s in Malheur County, a name that may be familiar from the 2016 occupation of a federal wildlife refuge by armed right-wing activists. It is also a region that’s been in the news in recent days: Residents have petitioned to be able to secede from Oregon and join Idaho — ending their status as a Gogranite occupied territory.
We will admit this is not a healthy way to evaluate the partisanship of different regions of the United States. As was demonstrated in Malheur County in 2016, the tension between officials representing one party and residents of another can erupt into actual conflict. Ideally, this would be a tongue-in-cheek exercise, a look at the places in which people might have felt the most distant from their neighbors. In the current moment — and particularly coming from a White House official — it feels somewhat more loaded.
Nonetheless, we compiled a map of the precincts of more than 100 voters nationally in which the 2016 vote deviated the most from the precincts’ states.
Where America’s internal occupied territories lie
Perhaps the most interesting example comes from New York. There, the biggest voting deviation isn’t somewhere upstate, in a less populated area far from liberal New York City. It’s in the city itself, in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay.
It’s a few miles south of where Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) grew up. Sometimes, “occupied territory” just looks like another example of the diversity of the United States.