Thursday, August 21, 2008

Primary: Results

So votes are still trickling in (ballots mailed by Tuesday are still showing up), and the political factions are in full spin mode. The state results are here, and those for King County here.

But here's the important number - 27.3%. That's the percentage of registered voters that voted on Tuesday. In King County, the largest of the counties, that number is even lower - 19.75%. The Secretary of State predicted 45% interest in the new "Top Two" system, so I would be concerned about such forecasts in the future. But the upshot of this is we are dealing with a very small sample size, which makes it difficult to determine any firm trends.

Pretty much, if I have to have make a judgment on this election, it is that we loves us our incumbents. You shan't see any Supreme Court battles this fall, since Johnson, Fairhurst, and Stephens (the last running unopposed) all cleared the 50% bar for re-election. And pretty much everyone who is IN office has a healthy lead on everyone who is NOT in office, with two telling exceptions. One is Commissioner of Public Lands, which despite poor management is merely a dead heat, and the other is down here in the 47th State Rep race, where Geoff Simpson came in BEHIND Republican challenger Mark Hargrove, with a significant dissident vote for Leslie Kae Hamada. In both cases the incumbents are plagued with issues in their personal lives.

We also, in the self-destruction that democracy is prone to, approved putting I-26 on the ballot, which is pretty much an incumbency-guarantee plan. Not only that, we put the more odious of two options there for the general. I don't think it will help.

The primary also creates spin problems for both parties. If Gregoire 'put away" Rossi by outpolling him by four points in a crowded field, then didn't Reichert 'put away' Burner by outpolling her by three? Similarly, if Reichert is "endangered" by not getting 50% of the vote, then doesn't the same argument apply to Gregoire?

No, the number that matters is the low turnout. There few great surprises or driving issues for this election, and the results are pretty much what people would expect - there are even enough Republicans on Queen Anne Hill to guarantee a Republican challenger for Jim McDermott (who only got 73% of the vote, which may be a new low for him). This should continue in the fall, unless there is SOME OTHER ELECTION going on that might drive people to the polls.

Let us take a moment, though, to mourn for the small parties - Greens, Commons, Constitutionalists, Libertarians, and Independents of every stripe. The new process guarantees that your attempts will only be seen by the hardcore voters that already have declared for a particular party (which is not you). The newborn GOP (Graveyard of Progress) Party almost had the same fate, but did manage to eek out a second place in a minor category. Best of luck to it in the general campaign.

More later,