Data Points: Hunting Valley

Sun. May 5, 2024 | Voting

Understanding the numbers in the Chagrin Gateway

Each week, we’re going to explore a precinct in our club area to better understand the electorate and identify keys to victory others might be missing. (see last week’s breakdown of Bentleyville)

While the bulk of the votes in our club area come from Pepper Pike, Orange and Chagrin Falls, smaller communities such as Bentleyville, Woodmere and Moreland Hills still maintain strong turnout and increase our numbers overall. All of these communities have been turning a darker shade of blue, but there’s one surprise precinct also trending our way over the last eight years—Hunting Valley.

A truly unique village, most of Hunting Valley’s votes are cast in Cuyahoga County. However, unlike every other community in the county, Hunting Valley covers two counties—Cuyahoga and Geauga. The Geauga County piece essentially covers both sides of County Line Rd. from just north of Fairmount Blvd. to a southern bend just north of Kinsman Rd. (Rt. 87). The Cuyahoga portion, which is covered by our club, includes 541 voters while the Geauga portion includes 133. Today, we’re exploring just that piece in Cuyahoga.

When folks outside of Hunting Valley think of the village, they might conjure up images of Rolls Royces pulling alongside each other to share the Grey Poupon. Or they dream of sweeping landscapes below stately mansions adorned with prize horses. While these perceptions may or may not be true, it’s been assumed as fact that Hunting Valley was not only one of the wealthiest communities in Ohio, it was likely one of the most conservative.

Given the past data and the tough logistics, it’s doubtful that many Democrats have spent much time campaigning on the ground in the village. Had they tried, the long walks down the driveways most likely would have ended with them being turned away at a guarded gate. While accessibility is always an issue in dense city precincts with locked apartment buildings, it can be even tougher in an area where visitors of any kind are not welcome. Hunting Valley is beautiful, but it is nearly impossible to canvass.

So, in 2012, when President Obama faced off against Mitt Romney, despite the campaign’s well-oiled outreach machine, they fell overwhelmingly flat—securing only 24.8% of the vote to Romney’s 75%. A complete blow out.

The race of 2016 set things off in a different direction. Yes, while Hunting Valley voters are more traditionally “fiscal conservatives” (think George H. W. Bush, or Steve Forbes, or Mitt Romney), they are not evangelical or MAGA conservatives. And when Donald Trump came on the scene, the GOP numbers dropped significantly.

Trump won Hunting Valley in 2016 with 53.5% of the vote compared to Hillary Clinton’s 39.8% —a GOP margin of victory shift from 50.2% just four years earlier to 13.7%—a whopping 36.5% swing to the Dems.

Four years later, the “Never Trump” movement was in full effect. Donald Trump won Hunting Valley again, but did it by only three. Not three percentage points, but three votes—215 to 212—all but erasing the 2-to-1 margin Republicans used to enjoy there.

Finally, in 2022, the precinct flipped completely blue in the U.S. Senate race as Democrat Tim Ryan toppled MAGA candidate, J.D. Vance—181 to 162—or 52.4% to 46.9%.

Today, as we face a tough election year, there are opportunities to not only hold our gains, but expand them. Hunting Valley’s electorate is small. And of the 541 voters there, 136 are registered Republicans with only 68 registered Democratic—leaving 337 unaffiliated. Plus, in this year’s GOP primary, Trump got just over half the vote (54) with Nikki Haley not far behind (42 votes). Of the 136 registered Republicans in Hunting Valley, only 39.7% went out and voted for Trump in the GOP primary. That is a huge opportunity.

Our job this year is to use our available means—postcards, phone calls, relationship marketing and engagement—to lock down the Dems and build a coalition of folks from the unaffiliated pool…then sprinkle in a healthy dash of Republicans who put country before party and want to defend democracy. We know it’s possible because we’ve done it before.

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