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banner Friday, 7 January, 2000, 17:22 GMT
Washington

Washington is not as solidly Democratic as it once was, but the party will be expecting to win the state in the presidential election.

Key facts
Population: 5,532,939 (ranked 18 among states)
Governor: Gary Locke (D)
Electoral College votes: 11
Franklin Roosevelt's campaign manager used to call it the Soviet of Washington and its blue-collar workforce shored up Democrat support. But Republicans have gained support in the Pacific Rim and the Rocky Mountains, giving them control over both houses of the legislature and a Senate seat.

The state has an active electorate with numerous referendums. Voters supported an increase in the minimum wage indexed to inflation and the medical use of marijuana.

1998 Congress
House of Representatives: 5 Democrats, 4 Republicans
Senate: 1 Democrat, 1 Republican
In the 1990s Washington helped shape many cultural trends. Microsoft and Starbucks are both products of a state that has had a disproportionate amount of success and influence in recent years.

Soon after statehood was granted in 1889, Washington became a settlement of great ports and lumber settlements and Seattle became a key American city.

Voting record
1996: Clinton 50%, Dole 37%
1992: Clinton 43%, Bush 32%, Perot 24%
1988: Dukakis 50%, Bush 48%
In the 1930s it was a pioneering state for its use of hydroelectricity, which brought cheap electricity and made the state a magnet for manufacturing - aluminium plants, shipbuilders and Boeing.

Hanford, on the Columbia, also became one of the government's main nuclear weapons manufacturing sites. It was on these foundations that Washington built its post-war prosperity.

Now the booming economy rests less on the power of hydroelectricity than it does on the brains of Boeing and Bill Gates and the allure of Seattle and its lifestyle.

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Links to more States stories are at the foot of the page.


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