Go Blue

Finding a progressive home in precinct 11




915 Luttrell

3,098 sq. ft., 4 bdrm, 2 bath $299,900 Contact: Steve Hill Elite Realty 947-5000

The News Sentinel ran a little map graphic the other day, after the election, tracking how Knoxville voted. Not many surprises there—it looked just like the map Metro Pulse ran of the 2004 election a few weeks earlier. The center-city went strongly for Obama, while the suburbs tilted towards McCain. The map mimics similar ones printed up in places like USA Today and elsewhere, tracking how the Republicans are predominantly the party of rural America, while the Democrats dominate the dense urban centers.

Knox County’s urban center isn’t large enough to swing the state into the Obama column. But the pattern still holds. The predominantly African-American precincts in east and northwest Knoxville voted overwhelmingly for Obama, although race really didn’t make all that much difference. In most African-American precincts, Obama only outpolled Kerry’s 2004 performance by about 6 percent He did, however, pick up a couple of South Knoxville precincts that Kerry didn’t, uh, carry. Locally, as in Pennsylvania, McCain-Palin’s attempt to peel off blue-collar voters didn’t quite pay off.

Obama, as expected, also carried the youth vote, although not overwhelmingly. The University of Tennessee campus, which went for Bush in 2004, voted Obama by a mere 2 percent. And the erection of massive privatized dorms continues to eat into Fort Sanders’ old reputation as a bohemian bastion. Obama’s decisive 62 percent outperformed Kerry’s 2004 take, but wasn’t enough to make Obama’s percentage there the highest outside of the city’s predominantly African-American precincts.

That distinction goes precinct 11, dominated by Fourth and Gill and Old North Knoxville. While not quite Hyde Park, the neighborhood matches up surprisingly well with the “liberal elite” meme that McCain-Palin made so much of: A growing number of homeowners there are comfortably middle-upper income, college-educated, progressive-minded folks, many of them with university and media jobs. (And, since a good number moved in from out of state, I suspect some Bubbas might question whether they’re “real Knoxvillians”—even if the majority of folks who would meet the Palinesque parameters of such a definition probably live outside the city limits these days...)

However, if the progressive Obama voters of Fourth and Gill and Old North are some sort of elite, they’re definitely a new development. Even a decade ago, it would have been tough to imagine Luttrell Street crowded with quarter-million-dollar homes. Today, such sales are becoming common. And it’s easy to see why, with homes like this one. Offering lush landscaping, hardwood floors, elaborate moldings and a kitchen full of stainless steel, its got all the trappings of a high-end custom home in the suburbs, but convenient to downtown and UT.

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