Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Diminishing Returns

So I got home last night to find my invisible friend Schmedley packing furiously.

"Its time to go," said the imaginary elephant of my childhood, "Washington State has pitched into the abyss."

"I take it you saw that they certified Dino Rossi as Governor."

"It's horrible! Red state mania! We're all going Right-wing!" he gave me a hard look and added, "Conservatives are not friendly to Imaginary Americans."

"Its not that horrible," said I. "We had the initial returns. It showed a slim Rossi lead. Each time we counted, the lead got thinner. From a few thousand to a few hundred to a slender 42 votes. The Seattle Times had an article showing that if the people who wrote in Ron Simms had voted Gregoire, she would have won."

"And Mike the Mover!" opined Schmedley, "How could we not reach out to such an important voting block of nine people! The electorate hates us!"

"I'd say the electorate was more disinterested than disgruntled in the governor's race. It's easy to blame the candidate, but Gregoire ran a relatively "cool" and dispassionate campaign, on the assumption that people were generally content with Locke, and she would continue his policies. They attempted to show that Rossi was a right-wing nut, like previous GOP candidates, and when he failed to reinforce that image, got enough to pull out the barest of majorities. This state went large for Kerry, even larger for Murray. We're a bluish purple."

Schmedley looked at me hard, "It must be a conspiracy! I call shenannigans!"

"Possible. With such a razor-thin lead, it's even likely, from both sides. During the recount, the Dems were doing everything in their power to find uncounted votes, while the GOP was trying to keep those votes from being counted. Some valid problems were identified and addressed. But the way we elect here is pretty darned stable, in comparison to, say Ohio or Florida."

Schmedley sniffed, "We could demand a recount."

"That's part of the process," said I, "and even our Republican Secretary of State supports Gregoire's right to do so. But the Dems need to foot the bill and it needs to be state-wide. A recount of a few counties that just turns the election by an equally thin majority would be just as frustrating and suspicious as the squeaker we have, if not moreso."

"You're going to tell me its going to be all right," said the elephant.

"No, I'm not. It's going to be a challenge. Rossi is Big-D, as in Development. He's going to be tough on the environment. Locke was very pro-business in the first place, and Rossi is going to suck up even harder. He's also walking into the teeth of a healthy budget deficit. The good news is that the Dems hold the legislature, and Rossi has had a history of seeking consensus and putting together a deal. That's the Rossi that has been showing up the past couple days, as opposed to the Olympia outsider image that he was running on."

Schmedley thought for a moment, then said, "Maybe I'll move to a more friendly state, anyway. Maybe California."

I put my hand on the elephant's shoulder. "We have to talk."

More later,