By Jeff Barton
There’s a strong correlation between how you see the future of the country and where you live in a divided Hays County.
Along the Interstate 35 corridor and, especially, in the voting precincts east of the highway or around the college in San Marcos, most people voted for Hillary Clinton for President, for a Democrat for Congress, and in favor of public safety bonds.
Moving west and north of I-35, voters were more and more likely to support Donald Trump, a Republican for Congress, and – with a few exceptions – to vote against the county’s bond Proposition 1 for public safety.
In far southeastern Hays, Precinct 414 runs along a major gateway entrance to San Marcos and the Texas State campus, along I-35 and up Hopkins past the football stadium along roads thick with college apartment housing and a few neighborhoods inhabited heavily by African-Americans and Latinos. Trump won just 21.6 percent of the vote there. It’s an area defined in part by where the San Marcos and Blanco rivers meet the black-land prairie.
At the opposite end of Hays County, in the northwest corner, in the affluent, large-lot subdivisions tucked among the rugged hills of the Pedernales River, President-elect Trump won 61 percent of the vote – and won 60 and 62 percent in the adjoining precincts, his best showing except for a smaller precinct on RR 12, heading west out of San Marcos between the county seat and Wimberley, where he won 66 percent.
In between these extremes is a gradient that runs largely along a southeast-northwest axis: voters move from being skeptical of Donald Trump and supportive of county bonds in the southeast to supportive of Trump and skeptical of the bonds in the northwest.
In the greater San Marcos area, even including Republican-leaning suburbs outside the city proper, Trump won just 36 percent of the vote, but the Prop 1 bond for a renovated jail and improved 9-1-1 system won 56 percent of the vote.
In greater Dripping Springs-Driftwood, Trump won 60 percent of the vote but Proposition 1 managed a little less than 45 percent. Wimberley, another Republican stronghold, a little further to the south, gave Trump a little less – 58 percent – and Proposition 1 a little more – 51 percent. The 9-1-1 improvements were particularly important to Wimberley emergency responders who have been hit hard by flooding in the past few years.
Moving north along the interstate corridor in eastern Hays County, Kyle area residents gave just 44 percent of their votes to Trump and split almost evenly on the Proposition 1 bond, with 49.6 percent supporting it.
The biggest percentage votes for both Hillary Clinton and the public safety bond came mostly on the east side, in Old Town and in Plum Creek. Western neighborhoods in the Kyle area, like Hometown Kyle, Arroyo Ranch, and Precinct 225, which includes Mountain City-Meadow Woods as well as subdivisions out FM 150 west, tended to give bigger margins to Trump and voted against Proposition 1.
In northeast Hays County, Buda was divided. Voters in greater Buda gave 49 percent to both Trump and Proposition 1. Again, voters on the east side of I-35 were more likely to favor Clinton and Prop 1 than voters on the west side of Buda, where voters in Precinct 232 (Ruby Ranch, Oak Forrest, parts of Hays Country Oaks) voted 62 percent for Trump and just 44 percent for Proposition 1.
County-wide Trump won 46.9 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Clinton. In the three Congressional districts that partition Hays County, Republicans won 47 percent of the vote compared to 46 percent for Democrats.
Proposition 1 passed narrowly, with 51 percent in favor. So Hays County, like the nation, was divided on election day.
There was a point of common ground, to some extent. The second county bond proposition, aimed at improving roads and sidewalks and attacking traffic congestion, won 54 percent of the vote and carried all four commissioner precincts in Hays County.
Even with roads, however, some split in the county was evident. Proposition 2 carried every voting box in San Marcos, Buda, and east of Interstate 35. Despite winning some boxes to the west, the only voting precincts where Proposition 2 lost were west of Buda and on the west side of Kyle (very narrowly, 49 percent in three different boxes), farther out FM 150 west in Kyle (44 percent), and in three boxes in the Dripping Springs-Driftwood area, though even here the road bonds won between 45 and 50 percent.