NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

Washington’s 2021 general election certified; turnout is the third-worst in state history

Yes­ter­day evening, Wash­ing­ton State’s thir­ty-nine coun­ties fin­ished cer­ti­fy­ing the results of the 2021 gen­er­al elec­tion, which began in Sep­tem­ber with the mail­ing of bal­lots to mil­i­tary and over­seas vot­ers and is now com­plete after a three-week count­ing peri­od. There were 4,815,263 vot­ers in the elec­tion and 1,896,481 bal­lots were returned, for a total statewide turnout of 39.38%.

Few­er than four in ten vot­ers vot­ed for just the third time in a statewide gen­er­al elec­tion, going back to when record­keep­ing began. The turnout we just saw is the third worst gen­er­al elec­tion turnout in state his­to­ry, behind only 2017 and 2015.

Low par­tic­i­pa­tion is a long-run­ning trend that goes back almost a decade. 2013 and 2019 also saw poor turnout and rank among the top ten all time worst gen­er­al elec­tion turnouts in state his­to­ry. The last odd year elec­tion to have major­i­ty turnout was ten years ago, in 2011, when 52.95% turned out to vote.

The table below shows all odd year turnouts going back to 1973, when Wash­ing­ton began hold­ing state-lev­el elec­tions in odd num­bered years. As we can see, we’re in a slump that stretch­es back sev­er­al local elec­tion cycles. While even num­bered year turnouts have been healthy — 2018 and 2020 saw high­er than usu­al turnouts — odd num­bered years have been con­sis­tent­ly bad.

Turnout was of course not uni­form through­out the state, as we can see from the coun­ty by coun­ty num­bers. Twen­ty-two coun­ties had turnouts high­er than the state as a whole. Sev­en­teen coun­ties had turnouts that were worse.

Coun­tyReg­is­tered VotersBal­lots CountedTurnout (%)
San Juan14,5678,34957.31%
Wal­la Walla37,35416,60644.46%
Pend Oreille10,6214,17339.29%
Grays Har­bor49,40418,17936.8%

Some small coun­ties achieved major­i­ty turnouts: Colum­bia, San Juan, Wahki­akum, and Garfield. And some small to medi­um sized coun­ties achieved near-major­i­ty turnouts: Island, What­com, Jef­fer­son, and Clallam.

King Coun­ty was in the mid­dle of the pack, with 43.41% turnout over­all, com­ing in ahead of its two neigh­bors Pierce and Snohomish.

Pierce’s turnout was the third-worst in the state, with just 32.25%.

That’s not even a third.

Sno­homish man­aged just 35.92%.

Yaki­ma Coun­ty had the sec­ond worst turnout at 32.07%, and Franklin Coun­ty, which includes part of the Tri-Cities, saw the worst turnout of all: 27.82%.

Sno­homish, Pierce, Spokane, and Clark are the most pop­u­lous coun­ties in the state aside from King Coun­ty. They all had turnouts worse than the state as a whole, which helps explain why we could­n’t crack forty per­cent this year.

If you go back to the statewide chart above, you’ll notice that there has nev­er been such a pro­longed stretch of bad turnout in odd-num­bered years that is com­pa­ra­ble to the slump we’re in now.

There were some bad turnouts in the 1980s — 1985 and 1987 are among the top ten worst turnouts — but the eight­ies sim­ply don’t dom­i­nate the top of the chart like the teens (which are high­light­ed) do.

There is no rea­son to think 2023 or 2025 will be much different.

Over the course of a decade, regard­less of what has been on the bal­lot, turnout has been lousy. And that’s despite the removal of bar­ri­ers to vot­ing. Postage is now pre­paid on bal­lot return envelopes, there are more drop box­es, and it is now pos­si­ble to update one’s reg­is­tra­tion right up until the dead­line to vote. Even-num­bered year turnout since those reforms is up, but odd year turnout is not.

The sta­tus quo sim­ply isn’t work­ing for Wash­ing­ton. It’s won­der­ful that we have been able to elim­i­nate bar­ri­ers for vot­ing and improve bal­lot access.

But now we real­ly, real­ly need to tack­le elec­tion fatigue.

Phas­ing out odd year elec­tions will enable us to elect local posi­tions at the same time as fed­er­al and state posi­tions, sim­pli­fy­ing our vot­ing oblig­a­tions, sav­ing mon­ey, and giv­ing peo­ple more of a break in between elections.

The evi­dence shows that when local posi­tions are vot­ed on in even num­bered years, a lot more peo­ple par­tic­i­pate, which is a real­ly, real­ly good thing. We should want robust turnout for coun­ty coun­cil and exec­u­tive elec­tions, may­oral elec­tions, city coun­cil elec­tions, school board elec­tions, and so on. Local elec­tions are just as impor­tant as elec­tions for fed­er­al and state-lev­el office.

Most coun­ties in Wash­ing­ton already elect coun­ty-lev­el offices in even-num­bered years because that’s the default for code counties.

Char­ter coun­ties get a choice, and most (King, Sno­homish, What­com, etc.) have cho­sen to hold their elec­tions in odd-num­bered years. Pierce is the big excep­tion: it elects coun­ty-lev­el posi­tions in even-num­bered years. And because it does, turnout for its coun­ty posi­tions is para­dox­i­cal­ly bet­ter than King Coun­ty’s turnout.

For exam­ple, here’s King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive ver­sus Pierce Coun­ty Executive:

King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive, 2021
Total Votes for Exec­u­tive: 572,911
Coun­ty­wide turnout: 43.41% (607,869 votes)

Pierce Coun­ty Exec­u­tive, 2020
Total votes for Exec­u­tive: 439,785
Coun­ty­wide turnout: 82.26% (467,072 votes)

If King Coun­ty had vot­ed on its next Exec­u­tive last year instead of this year, hun­dreds of thou­sands more vot­ers would have weighed in. For com­par­i­son, King Coun­ty turnout was 85.35% in 2020, and over 1.1 mil­lion votes were cast on each of a set of nine char­ter amend­ments sub­mit­ted by the coun­ty to voters.

That’s approx­i­mate­ly dou­ble the num­ber of vot­ers who chose between Dow Con­stan­tine and Joe Nguyen to be the next coun­ty exec­u­tive this month.

And if we look at this year’s Port races in Pierce Coun­ty, we can see an even more dra­mat­ic dif­fer­ence. 467,072 Pierce Coun­ty vot­ers par­tic­i­pat­ed in last year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in total, and most of those vot­ers cast a vote for Executive.

But in this year’s Port of Taco­ma races — which are coun­ty­wide — few­er than 170,000 vot­ers par­tic­i­pat­ed. The dif­fer­ence between eighty-two per­cent and thir­ty-two per­cent is fifty. That is a huge, huge, huge number!

As Shore­line City Coun­cilmem­ber Chris Roberts has argued in this space, it is an undis­put­ed fact that more peo­ple par­tic­i­pate in choos­ing who their local offi­cials are when those offi­cials are cho­sen in even-num­bered years.

So let’s make a change. Let’s phase out odd year elections.

Yes, this will mean longer bal­lots. But vot­ers have made it clear they would pre­fer that to con­tin­u­ing to hold elec­tions for impor­tant local posi­tions in odd years.

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

New rules to bar oil/gas drilling in the vicinity of Chaco Culture National Historical Park

The Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion is mov­ing to imple­ment a twen­ty year ban on oil and gas leas­ing on fed­er­al land with­in a ten mile radius of Cha­co Cul­ture Nation­al His­tor­i­cal Park in north­west­ern New Mex­i­co, the sacred and majes­tic site of an Ances­tral Ple­bloan admin­is­tra­tive and cul­tur­al cen­ter cre­at­ed in the mid-nine­teenth cen­tu­ry and aban­doned about 1150 A.D.

The action, announced at the White House Trib­al Nations Sum­mit, revers­es poli­cies of the Trump regime. After ini­tial­ly hes­i­tat­ing, it adopt­ed a drill-baby-drill approach propos­ing to approve 2,300 oil and gas wells in the area.

U.S. Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary Deb Haa­land, the first Native Amer­i­can to hold the Cab­i­net post, said in a state­ment: “Cha­co Canyon is a sacred place that holds deep mean­ing for Indige­nous peo­ples whose ances­tors lived, worked and thrived in that high desert community.”

Visitor Center at Chaco Culture National Historical Park

The vis­i­tor cen­ter at Cha­co Cul­ture Nation­al His­tor­i­cal Park, with Faja­da Butte vis­i­ble in the dis­tance (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Haa­land, a for­mer mem­ber of Con­gress from New Mex­i­co, added: “Now is the time to con­sid­er more endur­ing pro­tec­tions for the liv­ing land­scape that is Cha­co, so that we can pass on this rich cul­tur­al lega­cy to future generations.”

Sit­u­at­ed in the remote Four Cor­ners area, reached by a rough road, Cha­co Cul­ture con­tains remains of stone build­ings and Great Hous­es that were once among the largest struc­tures in North America.

Larg­er build­ings were aligned to cap­ture cycles of the Sun and Moon, demon­strat­ing remark­able astro­nom­i­cal obser­va­tion and skill at construction.

The city was aban­doned, and par­tial­ly destroyed, about 1150 A.D., per­haps as the result of a drought. It remains a haunt­ing place, flanked by mesas and cliffs that glis­ten after an after­noon thun­der­storm. The vis­i­tor wan­ders through rooms and won­ders the dis­tance wood was car­ried and then sawed to con­struct a city in this high, dry set­ting. The park is also renowned for night skies free of light pollution.

Ancient ruins at Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Pueblo ruins at Cha­co Cul­ture Nation­al His­tor­i­cal Park. Cha­co Cul­ture con­tains the most sweep­ing set of ancient ruins north of Mex­i­co, includ­ing Chetro Ketl, the Pueblo Alto com­plex, Pueblo del Arroyo, and Pueblo Boni­to (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

The oil and gas indus­try has turned sec­tions of the San Juan Basin into a cen­ter of the car­bon cul­ture and economy.

It has “safe­ly pro­vid­ed oil and nat­ur­al gas in the Basin for decades while at the same time pro­tect­ing the cul­tur­al and his­toric trea­sures through­out the region,” said New Mex­i­co Oil & Gas Asso­ci­a­tion spokesman Rob McEntyre.

He crit­i­cized the Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion for putting “arbi­trary lim­its on devel­op­ment in the region.”

Ex‑U.S. Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary Bruce Bab­bitt, a for­mer Ari­zona gov­er­nor, put a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on drill-baby-drill in a recent post for Writ­ers on the Range.

“If you vis­it the area you will imme­di­ate­ly see the blight that comes from oil and gas pro­duc­tion: More than 30,000 wells have been drilled in the region, yet 10,000 of these are inac­tive and many will nev­er be plugged and reclaimed,” Bab­bitt wrote. “Sacred land­scapes have been trans­formed into an indus­tri­al waste­land lit­tered with rusty tanks and drill pads and con­nect­ed by now-aban­doned roads and pipelines.”

The extrac­tion of nat­ur­al gas has involved frack­ing wells as well as methane flush­ing and con­struc­tion of hold­ing tanks.

“We can­not sus­tain our Sacred Trust when sacred sites like Cha­co are destroyed, as the region is quin­tes­sen­tial to our very exis­tence,” the All Pueblo Coun­cil of Gov­er­nors said in reac­tion to the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion action.

Added Wil­fred Her­rera, for­mer gov­er­nor of the Lagu­na Pueblo and chair­man of the APCG: “Cha­co Canyon has a pro­found con­tri­bu­tion to the his­to­ry of humankind, and for all who have heard the call, we are grateful.”

The with­draw­al from leas­ing will not impact indi­vid­ual Indi­an allot­ments or min­er­al leas­es with­in the area owned by pri­vate, state and trib­al enti­ties, the White House said in its announce­ment. The U.S. Bureau of Land Man­age­ment will ini­tial­ly set aside fed­er­al land for two years as it does an envi­ron­men­tal analy­sis and gath­ers pub­lic com­ment before imple­ment­ing the two-decade ban.

Pet­ro­glyphs on the Una Vida Trail at Cha­co Cul­ture Nation­al His­tor­i­cal Park. Una Vida is a Cha­coan “great house” — “a large pre-planned mul­ti-sto­ried pub­lic build­ing with dis­tinc­tive mason­ry, for­mal earth­en archi­tec­ture, and a great kiva,” accord­ing to the Nation­al Park Ser­vice. (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

“We look for­ward to kick­ing off a broad­er region­al con­ver­sa­tion with the many peo­ple who care deeply about the Greater Cha­co land­scape on how we can best man­age the cul­tur­al and nat­ur­al val­ues unique to this spe­cial place,” said BLM Direc­tor Tra­cy Stone-Manning.

The drilling ban around Cha­co Cul­ture rep­re­sents the lat­est rever­sal of Trump Admin­is­tra­tion pub­lic lands pol­i­cy, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Southwest.

Weeks ago, the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion moved to restore the Bears Ears and Grand Stair­case-Escalante Nation­al Mon­u­ments in South­ern Utah, both evis­cer­at­ed by the Trump regime.

The Bears Ears Mon­u­ment, cre­at­ed at the urg­ing of Native Amer­i­can groups, was slashed from 1.3 mil­lion acres to 210,000 acres.

With oil and gas leas­ing around Cha­co Cul­ture, then‑U.S. Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary Ryan Zine ini­tial­ly held off leas­ing in the face of protests, but the depart­ment then pro­posed 2,300 wells in the area.

“The last admin­is­tra­tion couldn’t come to the view of just leav­ing it alone, so kept kind of propos­ing dif­fer­ent lease sales,” Deputy Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary Tom­my Tom­my Beau­dreau told a con­fer­ence orga­nized by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chicago.

Cha­co Cul­ture Nation­al His­tor­i­cal Park was named a UNESCO (Unit­ed Nations Edu­ca­tion­al, Sci­en­tif­ic and Cul­tur­al Orga­ni­za­tion) World Her­itage Site in 1987.

Sunday, November 21st, 2021

East Link from the air, part two: Get a bird’s eye view of station construction in Redmond

In 2023, less than two years after the com­ple­tion and open­ing of the North­gate Link exten­sion, Sound Tran­sit will inau­gu­rate ser­vice to ten new sta­tions serv­ing Mer­cer Island, Belle­vue, and Red­mond. The addi­tion of these new sta­tions will be the biggest expan­sion in the his­to­ry of the sys­tem, dwarf­ing the num­ber of sta­tions added as part of pre­vi­ous exten­sions in 2009, 2016, and 2021.

Last month, we took the wraps of a spe­cial project doc­u­ment­ing these ten new sta­tions from the air. The project, which took months to cre­ate, pro­vid­ed a primer on each new sta­tion along with eleven gal­leries of pho­tos. It was so well-received that we decid­ed to do a fol­low-up this month with two addi­tion­al gal­leries of pho­tos depict­ing con­struc­tion on two more sta­tions that will open in 2024, the year after East Link comes online, bring­ing light rail into Down­town Redmond.

The Down­town Red­mond exten­sion is actu­al­ly part of the larg­er East Link project, but its sta­tions won’t open at the same time that the oth­er East Link sta­tions do because they were fund­ed as part of ST3 in 2016 rather than ST2 in 2008.

Nev­er­the­less, Sound Tran­sit and the City of Red­mond had their act togeth­er, and coop­er­at­ed to ensure that design and con­struc­tion could pro­ceed on the final two sta­tions as soon as funds were available.

That smart think­ing allowed the agency to even­tu­al­ly aim for a com­ple­tion date in 2024 rather than in, say, the 2030s. Red­mond’s two east­ern­most sta­tions will thus be part of the very first wave of ST3 projects to be completed.

Con­struc­tion on the Down­town Red­mond exten­sion is now hap­pen­ing in tan­dem with con­struc­tion on the more west­er­ly tracks and sta­tions — it’s just not as far along due to hav­ing start­ed lat­er. (The ground­break­ing was in 2019.)

So while there aren’t any sta­tion plat­forms to look at yet, we can show you some pret­ty cool struc­tures ris­ing from the ground here in NPI’s hometown!

When fin­ished, the East Link exten­sion, offi­cial­ly known as Line 2, will con­sist of twelve sta­tions that are locat­ed to the east of the main­line run­ning north/south:

  1. Jud­kins Park
  2. Mer­cer Island
  3. South Belle­vue
  4. East Main
  5. Belle­vue Downtown
  6. Wilbur­ton
  7. Spring Dis­trict
  8. Bel-Red
  9. Over­lake Village
  10. Red­mond Technology
  11. South­east Redmond
  12. Down­town Redmond

To see the pho­to gal­leries for the first ten sta­tions, along with bonus pho­tos for the Oper­a­tions & Main­te­nance Facil­i­ty East, fol­low this link. Do that first before you read on if you haven’t seen those images yet. Then, come back here and resume your tour. If you’ve already seen the pho­tos pub­lished in Part I, then it’s our plea­sure to be able to say wel­come back to the tour!

We’ll pick up where the pre­vi­ous post left off: in Microsoft-Land, the part of Red­mond that is home to the main Microsoft cam­pus. The Red­mond Tech­nol­o­gy Sta­tion will, until the Down­town Red­mond exten­sion opens, be the east­ern ter­mi­nus of Line 2. But already, Sound Tran­sit’s con­trac­tors are prepar­ing the right of way for the tracks that will allow trains to go into the heart of Redmond.

After leav­ing Red­mond Tech­nol­o­gy, trains will trav­el east along­side State Route 520, pass­ing under­neath the inter­change with 51st Avenue and over the exit ramp to West Lake Sam­mamish Park­way. After cross­ing the Sam­mamish Riv­er, trains will trav­el next to Mary­moor Park until they arrive at their next stop.

Southeast Redmond Station

This sur­face lev­el sta­tion will be locat­ed next to the Red­mond Inn at the con­flu­ence of State Route 520 and Red­mond Way in the city’s south­east­ern sec­tor. It will have a large 1,400 stall park­ing garage for com­muters who live on the Sam­mamish Plateau and in Red­mond’s north­ern res­i­den­tial neighborhoods.

Click any of the images above to launch the light­box for a bet­ter view

The sta­tion is being built across from the com­plex that present­ly hous­es Blaz­ing Bagels’ Inter­galac­tic Head­quar­ters and New­port Cus­tom Shutters.

“The effi­cient foot­print of the sta­tion allows for a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the site to be used for tran­sit-ori­ent­ed devel­op­ment,” con­trac­tor Hewitt says.

“Specif­i­cal­ly locat­ed between the high­way and future tran­sit ori­ent­ed devel­op­ment, the park­ing garage acts as a buffer to mit­i­gate traf­fic noise, become a visu­al bar­ri­er to [State Route] 520, and help achieve a more pleas­ant pedes­tri­an expe­ri­ence in the neigh­bor­hood. The train­way itself pass­es under the garage. This reduces patron trav­el dis­tance for those arriv­ing to the sta­tion by bus and by car, aid­ing in mak­ing tran­sit a more attrac­tive option for the neighborhood.”

“The sta­tion design focus­es on pro­vid­ing a com­fort­able and safe expe­ri­ence for patrons. Pedes­tri­an safe­ty is empha­sized by pro­vid­ing an option for grade-sep­a­rat­ed access from the park­ing garage to the sta­tion platform.”

“Ample weath­er pro­tec­tion has been pro­vid­ed for patrons wait­ing for bus­es and para­tran­sit, and the sta­tion is designed to max­i­mize views to the adja­cent Mary­moor Park for patrons await­ing the arrival of their train.”

Here’s a bonus image:

Southeast Redmond Station, view five (East Link aerial tour)

New hous­ing under con­struc­tion across from the forth­com­ing South­east Red­mond Sta­tion (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Downtown Redmond Station

This sta­tion will be the east­ern ter­mi­nus of Line 2 when it opens in 2024. It is an aer­i­al sta­tion, sus­pend­ed above NE 166th between Red­mond Town Cen­ter and Cleve­land Street in Red­mond’s com­mer­cial core.

Click any of the images above to launch the light­box for a bet­ter view

By choos­ing an aer­i­al align­ment for Down­town Red­mond, Sound Tran­sit and the City of Red­mond ensured that there would be no at-grade cross­ings near the line’s ter­mi­nus, which will cre­ate a safer expe­ri­ence for everyone.

The trip from down­town Red­mond to down­town Belle­vue on Link will take just sev­en­teen min­utes, very sim­i­lar to trav­el time by car, and less than half the time it takes to get between the two down­town on Metro’s RapidRide Line B.

This sta­tion will be with­in walk­ing dis­tance of NPI’s head­quar­ters in down­town Red­mond at NE 83rd Street and 164th Avenue, as well as the Leary Way his­toric dis­trict, Red­mond Town Cen­ter, and the Sam­mamish Riv­er Trail. The Red­mond Cen­tral Con­nec­tor trail will be adja­cent to the new sta­tion, pro­vid­ing direct access to the Sam­mamish Riv­er Trail plus the East Lake Sam­mamish Trail.

“The Down­town Red­mond sta­tion entrances, enclosed in glass, act as bea­cons to the neigh­bor­hood wel­com­ing patrons to the sta­tion and con­nect­ing rid­ers to Belle­vue, Seat­tle, and beyond,” Hewitt says.

“A large plaza has been cre­at­ed at the west sta­tion entrance, pro­vid­ing a future gath­er­ing space for the city and com­mu­ni­ty. This civic gath­er­ing space includes an inte­grat­ed art pro­gram to liv­en up the plaza.”

“Com­mu­ni­ty char­rettes were crit­i­cal to ensur­ing that all voic­es were heard dur­ing the ear­ly design and plan­ning process,” the firm adds.

“The inter­ac­tion between all modes of trav­el was a pri­or­i­ty in the dis­cus­sion between stake­hold­ers, and result­ed in a well-orches­trat­ed plan for bus cir­cu­la­tion, sta­tion access, bicy­cle and pedes­tri­an circulation.”

Here’s a bonus image:

View to the east of where the ini­tial gird­ers have been erect­ed, show­ing the rest of the con­struc­tion site where the future Down­town Red­mond Sta­tion is being built (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

And that does it for this adden­dum to our East Link aer­i­al tour!

Project safety information

All our flights were con­duct­ed in accor­dance with FAA reg­u­la­tions using reg­is­tered air­craft at times when con­struc­tion work­ers were not present.

Sunday, November 21st, 2021

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (November 15th-19th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, Novem­ber 19th, 2021.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

BUILD BACK BETTER ACT PASSES: On Fri­day, Novem­ber 21st, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed the Build Back Bet­ter Act, which com­bines ele­ments of Pres­i­dent Biden’s Amer­i­can Jobs Plan and Amer­i­can Fam­i­lies Plan into one bill.

The Build Back Bet­ter Act is the cen­ter­piece of Pres­i­dent Biden’s 2021 leg­isla­tive agen­da, along with the Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act.

The leg­is­la­tion would:

  • pro­vide child­care for chil­dren under the age of six;
  • make preschool universal;
  • expand Medicare to cov­er den­tal, hear­ing, and vision care;
  • pro­vide up to twelve weeks of paid fam­i­ly and med­ical leave;
  • low­er the cost of pre­scrip­tion drugs by requir­ing the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices to nego­ti­ate max­i­mum prices for cer­tain brand-name drugs under Medicare;
  • invest in elec­tric vehi­cle infra­struc­ture and projects to mit­i­gate cli­mate damage
  • increase Pell Grants
  • … and expand appren­tice­ship oppor­tu­ni­ties, among oth­er provisions.

“With the pas­sage of the Build Back Bet­ter Act, we – this Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gress – are tak­ing our place in the long and hon­or­able her­itage of our democ­ra­cy, which – with leg­is­la­tion that will be the pil­lar of health and finan­cial secu­ri­ty in Amer­i­ca.  It will be his­toric in forg­ing land­mark progress for our nation,” said Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi, D‑California, in floor remarks urg­ing adop­tion of the bill.

“Today, Pres­i­dent Biden and House Democ­rats chose left­ist spe­cial inter­est groups and ille­gal immi­grants over the needs of hard­work­ing Amer­i­can fam­i­lies,” said House Minor­i­ty Leader Kevin McCarthy, R‑California. “While Democ­rats are ignor­ing the needs of Amer­i­can work­ers and fam­i­lies, Repub­li­cans are pay­ing atten­tion: we will con­tin­ue to fight against their rad­i­cal, failed agenda.”

The vote was 220 to 213. A yes vote was to send the leg­is­la­tion to the Senate.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Vot­ing Nay (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

CENSURING PAUL GOSAR: The House on Novem­ber 17th passed a res­o­lu­tion (H. Res. 789), spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jack­ie Speier, D‑California, to cen­sure Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Paul Gosar, R‑Arizona, and remove him from two com­mit­tees, after he post­ed an altered car­toon video on his social media accounts that showed him attack­ing Pres­i­dent Biden. Speier said: “Incit­ing vio­lence begets violence.”

An oppo­nent, House Minor­i­ty Leader Kevin McCarthy, R‑California, said Gosar delet­ed the video on his own and affirmed that “he does not believe in vio­lence to any­one,” and McCarthy claimed that the House had failed to cen­sure Democ­rats for sim­i­lar­ly inflam­ma­to­ry behav­ior toward Pres­i­dent Trump.

The vote was 223 yeas to 207 nays, with two Repub­li­cans vot­ing aye.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Vot­ing Nay (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

ENSURING ACCESS TO EDUCATION FOR VETERANS: The House on Novem­ber 15th passed the Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fair­ness for Sur­vivors Act (S. 1095), spon­sored by Sen. Jer­ry Moran, R‑Kansas, to pro­vide greater tuition and job train­ing ben­e­fits for sur­vivors of deceased mil­i­tary veterans.

A sup­port­er, Rep. Mark Takano, D‑California, said the bill would “ensure the sur­vivors and depen­dents of those who brave­ly serve our coun­try are not hin­dered by tuition costs when pur­su­ing their education.”

The vote was unan­i­mous with 424 yeas.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (5): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrad­er; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (9): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaime Her­rera Beutler

Cas­ca­dia total: 15 aye votes, 2 not voting

REQUIRING VA TO OBTAIN GUIDANCE FROM VETERANS LIVING IN U.S. TERRITORIES: The House on Novem­ber 18th passed a bill (H.R. 3730), spon­sored by Del­e­gate Gre­go­rio Kilili Cama­cho Sablan, D‑Northern Mar­i­ana Islands. It would require the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs to form an advi­so­ry com­mit­tee to con­sult the agency on issues fac­ing vet­er­ans who live in Puer­to Rico and the oth­er U.S. ter­ri­to­ries. The vote was 420 yeas to 4 nays.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (5): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrad­er; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (10): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 17 aye votes

IMPROVING SECURITY PROCEDURES AT U.S. AIRPORTS: The House on Novem­ber 18th passed the TSA Reach­ing Across Nation­al­i­ties, Soci­eties, and Lan­guages to Advance Trav­el­er Edu­ca­tion Act (H.R. 5574), spon­sored by Rep. Dina Titus, D‑Nevada. The bill would require the Trans­porta­tion Secu­ri­ty Admin­is­tra­tion to take mea­sures for increas­ing com­pre­hen­sion of air­port secu­ri­ty mate­ri­als, includ­ing accom­mo­da­tions for for­eign lan­guage speak­ers and those with vision or hear­ing impair­ments. The vote was 369 yeas to 49 nays.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (5): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrad­er; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (10): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 17 aye votes

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

GRAHAM STEELE, ASSISTANT TREASURY SECRETARY: The Sen­ate on Novem­ber 16th con­firmed the nom­i­na­tion of Gra­ham Steele to be assis­tant sec­re­tary for finan­cial insti­tu­tions at the Trea­sury Depart­ment. Steele was a senior staffer on the Sen­ate Bank­ing Com­mit­tee from 2015 to 2017, and since then has been a Fed­er­al Reserve staffer and an offi­cial at Stan­ford’s busi­ness school. A sup­port­er, Sen­a­tor Sher­rod Brown, D‑Ohio, said “the staff of many of my col­leagues on both sides of the aisle can attest to his com­mit­ment to ser­vice and the abil­i­ty to find com­mon ground.” The vote was 53 yeas to 42 nays.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Mike Crapo

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Jim Risch

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 5 aye votes, 1 nay vote

ROBERT BONNIE, AGRICULTURE UNDERSECRETARY: The Sen­ate on Novem­ber 16th con­firmed the nom­i­na­tion of Robert Bon­nie to serve as the Agri­cul­ture Depart­men­t’s under sec­re­tary for farm pro­duc­tion and con­ser­va­tion. Bon­nie was an Agri­cul­ture offi­cial in the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, then joined a Duke Uni­ver­si­ty envi­ron­men­tal insti­tute from 2017 through 2020.

The vote was 76 yeas to 19 nays.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 6 aye votes

JONATHAN KANTER, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Sen­ate has con­firmed the nom­i­na­tion of Jonathan Kan­ter to serve as assis­tant attor­ney gen­er­al head­ing the antitrust divi­sion of the Jus­tice Depart­ment. Kan­ter, cur­rent­ly part­ner at his own law firm, was pre­vi­ous­ly an antitrust lawyer both in pri­vate prac­tice and at the Fed­er­al Trade Com­mis­sion. The vote was 68 yeas to 29 nays.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

ADDITIONAL SENATE VOTES: The Sen­ate con­firmed the nom­i­na­tion of four indi­vid­u­als for posi­tions in the exec­u­tive branch on Novem­ber 17th, 2021. Two of the four nom­i­nees are from the Pacif­ic Northwest.

  • Charles F. Sams III, of Ore­gon, to be Direc­tor of the Nation­al Park Service;
  • Julianne Smith, of Michi­gan, to be Unit­ed States Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the Coun­cil of the North Atlantic Treaty Orga­ni­za­tion, with the rank and sta­tus of Ambassador;
  • Lee Sat­ter­field, of South Car­oli­na, to be an Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of State (Edu­ca­tion­al and Cul­tur­al Affairs);
  • Jef­frey M. Hov­e­nier, of Wash­ing­ton, to be Ambas­sador to the Repub­lic of Kosovo.

These nom­i­nees were all con­firmed with­out oppo­si­tion and with­out roll call votes.

Last Week In Congress will be on hiatus next Sunday

This is Thanks­giv­ing Week, so no votes are planned this week in either the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives or the Sen­ate. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Edi­tor’s Note: The infor­ma­tion in NPI’s week­ly How Cas­ca­di­a’s U.S. law­mak­ers vot­ed fea­ture is pro­vid­ed by Tar­get­ed News Ser­vice. All rights are reserved. Repro­duc­tion of this post is not per­mit­ted, not even with attri­bu­tion. Use the per­ma­nent link to this post to share it… thanks!

© 2021 Tar­get­ed News Ser­vice, LLC. 

Friday, November 19th, 2021

House of Representatives approves historic Build Back Better Act, sending it to the Senate

This morn­ing, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives vot­ed almost along par­ty lines to pass the cen­ter­piece of the Biden-Har­ris 2021 leg­isla­tive agen­da, send­ing it to the Unit­ed States Sen­ate for fur­ther consideration.

At 6:44 AM Pacif­ic, by a vote of 220–213, the House adopt­ed H.R. 5376, known as the Build Back Bet­ter Act, after Biden’s cam­paign slo­gan, with all but one Demo­c­rat in favor and all Repub­li­cans opposed. The House had orig­i­nal­ly been slat­ed to vote last night, but top House Repub­li­can Kevin McCarthy used his “mag­ic minute” speak­ing priv­i­leges to stage an eight hour talk­ing filibuster.

(The “mag­ic minute” refers to the abil­i­ty of the House Speak­er, House Major­i­ty Leader, or the House Minor­i­ty Leader to stretch a minute-long speech on the House floor into a speech last­ing any amount of time.)

McCarthy ceased fil­i­bus­ter­ing short­ly after 2 AM Pacific.

A few hours lat­er, the vote com­menced successfully.

“I thank Speak­er Pelosi and the House lead­er­ship and every House mem­ber who worked so hard and vot­ed to pass this bill,” said Pres­i­dent Joe Biden.

“For the sec­ond time in just two weeks, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives has moved on crit­i­cal and con­se­quen­tial pieces of my leg­isla­tive agenda.”

“Now, the Build Back Bet­ter Act goes to the Unit­ed States Sen­ate, where I look for­ward to it pass­ing as soon as pos­si­ble so I can sign it into law.”

“With the pas­sage of the Build Back Bet­ter Act, we – this Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gress – are tak­ing our place in the long and hon­or­able her­itage of our democ­ra­cy, which – with leg­is­la­tion that will be the pil­lar of health and finan­cial secu­ri­ty in Amer­i­ca,” said Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi. “It will be his­toric in forg­ing land­mark progress for our nation. We talk about his­to­ry as we look and pre­pare for the future.”

Speaker Pelosi celebrates passage of Build Back Better

Speak­er Pelosi cel­e­brates the pas­sage of Build Back Bet­ter Act (Pho­to: Speak­er’s office)

“Much has been said since the dis­tin­guished Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship spoke last evening. Much has been said on this Floor. But the facts are these: fol­low­ing the vision of Pres­i­dent Biden, guid­ed by the exper­tise and ener­gy of our Chairs, Mem­bers and staff, we have a Build Back Bet­ter bill that is his­toric, trans­for­ma­tive and larg­er than any­thing we have ever done before.  We are Build­ing Back Better.”

“If you are a par­ent, a senior, a child, a work­er, if you are an Amer­i­can, this bill – this bill is for you, and it is bet­ter – it’s bet­ter in terms of health care.  It’s bet­ter if you are a senior, your cost at the phar­ma­cy will be cut to a frac­tion, with annu­al costs capped under Medicare Part D, annu­al ben­e­fit from the Medicare hear­ing ben­e­fit.  It’s bet­ter if you have dia­betes: when you go to the phar­ma­cy, instead of pay­ing hun­dreds for insulin, you’ll pay no more than $35 per month.”

“Because of Democ­rats, mil­lions of kids will not have to live in pover­ty, seniors will have the health care they deserve at low­er costs, and fam­i­lies and small busi­ness­es will have what they need to thrive,” said DNC Chair Jaime Har­ri­son. “Because of Democ­rats, our econ­o­my will be stronger and work­ing Amer­i­cans, no mat­ter their back­ground or where they come from, will once again be a priority.”

“Amer­i­cans elect­ed Pres­i­dent Biden and Democ­rats because they want­ed a gov­ern­ment that works for them, and lead­ers who would roll up their sleeves and get things done. While Democ­rats are step­ping up and deliv­er­ing for the Amer­i­can peo­ple, every sin­gle House Repub­li­can showed that they only care about their extreme, obstruc­tion­ist agen­da. While Democ­rats will spend 2022 high­light­ing how Democ­rats deliv­ered, Repub­li­cans will have to answer to their con­stituents why they oppose low­er health care costs and pre­scrip­tion drug prices, child care fund­ing, and tak­ing on the cli­mate crisis.”

“The Build Back Bet­ter Act rep­re­sents an incred­i­ble oppor­tu­ni­ty to address the great­est exis­ten­tial threat of our time – cli­mate change – while cre­at­ing good-pay­ing, unions jobs and build­ing a sus­tain­able, resilient econ­o­my,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam Smith. “This bill is the largest invest­ment to com­bat cli­mate change that our nation has ever seen, with mas­sive invest­ments in clean ener­gy and zero-emis­sions tech­nol­o­gy. The Biden-Har­ris Admin­is­tra­tion and Democ­rats in Con­gress have com­mit­ted to mak­ing cli­mate change a top pri­or­i­ty and this leg­is­la­tion fol­lows through on that commitment.”

“As a mom and pedi­a­tri­cian, I’ve seen first­hand the urgent need for a his­toric invest­ment in mid­dle class fam­i­lies to ease the grow­ing bur­dens they are fac­ing. That’s why I am delight­ed that the Build Back Bet­ter Act not only makes sig­nif­i­cant invest­ments in America’s future, it low­ers costs for work­ing fam­i­lies by extend­ing the month­ly Child Tax Cred­it, cap­ping the cost of child care, and set­ting every child up for life­long suc­cess with uni­ver­sal preschool,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kim Schrier.

“This bill will also make health care more afford­able for Wash­ing­to­ni­ans by cap­ping pre­scrip­tion drug costs for seniors, low­er­ing pre­mi­ums for peo­ple who buy insur­ance on their own, and stop­ping drug com­pa­nies from price gouging.”

“When we invest in women, fam­i­lies, and care­givers, we pow­er an eco­nom­ic recov­ery that ben­e­fits all of us,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mar­i­lyn Strick­land. “With the Build Back Bet­ter Act, Con­gress will deliv­er life-chang­ing ben­e­fits for fam­i­lies in the South Sound and across our nation — all with­out adding to the nation­al debt. I urge my col­leagues in the Sen­ate to join me and vote in favor of this trans­for­ma­tion­al bill that will address hous­ing, low­er health care costs, afford­able child care and in-home care, edu­ca­tion, cli­mate change and much more.”

To pass in the Sen­ate, the bill will need to get the votes of every mem­ber of the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus, includ­ing Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

The bill, which is being con­sid­ered under Con­gress’ rec­on­cil­i­a­tion rules to pre­vent Sen­ate Repub­li­cans from fil­i­bus­ter­ing it, will be sub­ject­ed to the Sen­ate amend­ment pro­ce­dure known as vote-a-rama, which is when a flur­ry of amend­ments are con­sid­ered in rapid suc­ces­sion for a long peri­od of time.

If all Sen­ate Repub­li­cans are present, the bill will need Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Har­ris’ tiebreak­ing vote to return to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. (The Sen­ate isn’t expect­ed to leave the bill unchanged, so it will need to return to the House.)

Har­ris has already cast thir­teen tiebreak­ing votes so far this year, and could be cast­ing sev­er­al more before the Build Back Bet­ter Act gets to Biden’s desk.

There are a lot of pro-fam­i­ly, pro-hous­ing, pro-jobs, pro-cli­mate invest­ments in the Build Back Bet­ter bill. For exam­ple, the legislation:

  • pro­vides for paid fam­i­ly and med­ical leave at the fed­er­al level
  • increas­es Pell Grants
  • makes preschool uni­ver­sal­ly available
  • expands appren­tice­ship opportunities
  • appro­pri­ates funds to fight pol­lu­tion in dis­ad­van­taged communities
  • low­ers the cost of pre­scrip­tion drugs
  • per­ma­nent­ly extends the Chil­dren’s Health Insur­ance Pro­gram (CHIP)
  • bol­sters pan­dem­ic prepa­ra­tion and pub­lic health research
  • adds mon­ey for pro­grams like the Nation­al Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Lifeline
  • helps com­mu­ni­ties imple­ment next gen­er­a­tion 9–1‑1 services

Repub­li­cans have denounced the bill as big social­ism with­out both­er­ing to specif­i­cal­ly crit­i­cize what’s in it — prob­a­bly because they know that what’s in it are pri­or­i­ties Amer­i­cans real­ly, real­ly, real­ly want. They have spent years hap­pi­ly vot­ing for gar­gan­tu­an tax cuts and bloat­ed defense spend­ing bills that con­tain even more mon­ey for the mil­i­tary than request­ed by the Pentagon.

But now, they sim­ply can­not bring them­selves to vote for a bill that will invest $2 bil­lion in rur­al rental hous­ing projects, or $1.7 bil­lion for agri­cul­tur­al edu­ca­tion, or $100 mil­lion for repair and reha­bil­i­ta­tion of rur­al homes.

They rail against “big gov­ern­ment,” but the truth is, they actu­al­ly love big gov­ern­ment. It just has to be the right kind of big government.

The CIA, the FBI, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the NSA, and many less­er-known agen­cies are all part of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, and Repub­li­cans have been hap­py to make them big­ger while leav­ing oth­er agen­cies bereft of resources to sup­port the needs of the peo­ple of the Unit­ed States.

The real­i­ty is that a coun­try of hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple can­not effec­tive­ly be served by a small gov­ern­ment. It is not the size of gov­ern­ment that’s impor­tant; it’s how effec­tive it is. As pro­gres­sives, we believe that gov­ern­ment should be as effec­tive as pos­si­ble. The invest­ments in this Build Back Bet­ter bill will raise Amer­i­cans’ qual­i­ty of life and help us catch up to where oth­er advanced democ­ra­cies have been for years. This leg­is­la­tion is his­toric, and sore­ly needed.

We are proud of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal and the Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus for using their lever­age to get this bill into con­crete form and passed off the House floor. There is still the hur­dle of get­ting through the Sen­ate, but we’re so much clos­er to hav­ing the Biden-Har­ris Jobs & Fam­i­lies plan signed into law than we were back in the sum­mer. Onward and forward!

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

Supreme Court to Redistricting Commission: Tell us exactly what you did on Monday night

The Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court this evening for­mal­ly respond­ed to the news that the 2021 Wash­ing­ton State Redis­trict­ing Com­mis­sion had failed in its efforts to draw new leg­isla­tive and con­gres­sion­al maps for the Ever­green State, direct­ing the Com­mis­sion’s Chair, Sarah Augus­tine, to file a sworn dec­la­ra­tion by noon this com­ing Mon­day detail­ing what exact­ly hap­pened at the com­mis­sion’s dead­line day meet­ing on Mon­day and the hours lead­ing up to it.

The order, issued and signed by Chief Jus­tice Steve Gon­za­lez, notes in its where­as claus­es that it is unclear what exact­ly tran­spired three evenings ago and states that Augus­tine shall pro­vide “a detailed time­line of the events of Novem­ber 15, 2021, and Novem­ber 16, 2021, rel­e­vant to the commission’s com­pli­ance with its oblig­a­tions  under arti­cle II, sec­tion 43 sub­sec­tions (6) and (11) of the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion and RCW 44.05.100.”

“This should include,” the order adds, “the tim­ing of any votes tak­en by the com­mis­sion, exact­ly what each vote was regard­ing, and any oth­er actions tak­en by the com­mis­sion rel­e­vant to their con­sti­tu­tion­al and statu­to­ry oblig­a­tions under arti­cle II, sec­tion 43 sub­sec­tions (6) and 11 and RCW 44.05.100.”

The Court’s full order is below:

Supreme Court’s Novem­ber 18th order to the Redis­trict­ing Commission

Augus­tine is the non­vot­ing chair appoint­ed by the four Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Repub­li­can vot­ing com­mis­sion­ers (April Sims, Brady Walkin­shaw, Joe Fain, and Paul Graves) to pre­side over the com­mis­sion’s pro­ceed­ings and facil­i­tate their work.

The afore­men­tioned meet­ing, wit­nessed by our team at NPI along with many oth­er polit­i­cal­ly attuned Wash­ing­to­ni­ans, was held elec­tron­i­cal­ly using Zoom and web­cast through YouTube, TVW, and oth­er plat­forms. Though it was sup­posed to be a pub­lic meet­ing, most of what tran­spired at the meet­ing tran­spired in pri­vate, includ­ing almost all of the nego­ti­at­ing between the commissioners.

Of the five hours on the meet­ing record­ing, less than forty min­utes con­sist­ed of any­thing oth­er than the cyber equiv­a­lent of dead air, as you can see from watch­ing this edit­ed ver­sion of the meet­ing that we put together:

Because it was clear­ly unpre­pared to take action by its con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly man­dat­ed Novem­ber 15th dead­line for agree­ing to maps, the com­mis­sion found itself backed into a cor­ner as the 11:59:59 dead­line rapid­ly approached.

With no maps ready to approve, the com­mis­sion­ers decid­ed at the last minute to sim­ply hold votes on the car­to­graph­ic equiv­a­lent of vaporware.

But even that gam­bit failed.

By noon the next day, the Com­mis­sion had belat­ed­ly con­ced­ed defeat… but not before send­ing this let­ter to the Leg­is­la­ture pro­claim­ing it had succeeded:

Redis­trict­ing Commission’s trans­mit­tal letter

Nei­ther the let­ter nor any oth­er mate­ri­als were shown onscreen or avail­able online to read as the Com­mis­sion was hasti­ly vot­ing on its eleventh hour motions.

That left view­ers, us includ­ed, won­der­ing what the heck the com­mis­sion­ers were actu­al­ly vot­ing on. It seems the Supreme Court has those very same ques­tions. And unlike the rest of us, they have the pow­er to com­pel answers.

The Court sent a clear mes­sage to the com­mis­sion­ers with its order today: Explain your­selves. Give us a detailed account­ing of what you were attempt­ing to do and what the spe­cif­ic sequence of events was. Don’t both­er with spin or excuses.

Though it did not have maps ready for even the com­mis­sion­ers to look at pri­or to Mon­day night’s vote, the Redis­trict­ing Com­mis­sion has since pub­lished a set of PDFs and shape­files that it has labeled its final work product.

Com­mis­sion­ers have sug­gest­ed to the Court that it sim­ply adopt those maps and rub­ber stamp their work. With its order today, the Court today indi­cat­ed it will be doing its own work after it gets a full, trans­par­ent account­ing of recent events.

The Com­mis­sion may also be oblig­at­ed to pro­vide sim­i­lar infor­ma­tion in Thurston Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court. That’s where activist Arthur West filed a law­suit alleg­ing that the Com­mis­sion fla­grant­ly vio­lat­ed the state’s open meet­ings law.

Read West­’s com­plaint below.

Redis­trict­ing suit by Arthur West

In relat­ed news, the Court’s Office of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions & Pub­lic Out­reach told NPI and oth­er media out­lets that it is in the process of set­ting up a Court-admin­is­tered web­site for all redis­trict­ing updates. This is expect­ed to be oper­a­tional short­ly. We should soon know more about how the Supreme Court intends to approach the task of draw­ing leg­isla­tive and con­gres­sion­al maps. It’s the first time the job has fall­en to the Court since the state adopt­ed a com­mis­sion mod­el for redistricting.

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

Seattleites enthusiastic about making city’s streets more people-centric, NPI poll finds

If a city is like a body, then streets could well be described as its arter­ies, cap­il­lar­ies, and veins… ves­sels that are essen­tial for cir­cu­la­tion, but a haz­ard to good health when prob­lems like clots, plaque, or faulty valves materialize.

Like metrop­o­lis­es all around the globe, Seat­tle is con­sid­er­ing what kind of city it wants to be dur­ing the next few decades, which will be an era of cli­mate reck­on­ing like none oth­er in mod­ern his­to­ry. Deci­sions about land use, growth, and street design in Seat­tle have been made on an car-cen­tric basis for decades, with grave impli­ca­tions for free­dom of mobil­i­ty, safe­ty, and sustainability.

But we do not have to con­tin­ue on that trajectory.

Indeed, in recent years, there has been a wel­come and grow­ing move­ment to rethink how we design and move around in our built envi­ron­ment, chal­leng­ing and even dis­card­ing old assump­tions. At the heart of this move­ment is the idea that our cities — and the streets that con­nect homes, busi­ness­es, and civic gath­er­ing places to each oth­er — are and ought to be for peo­ple, not cars.

When streets become peo­ple-cen­tric as opposed to car-cen­tric, amaz­ing things can hap­pen, as oth­er cities’ expe­ri­ence has demonstrated.

Seat­tle has an oppor­tu­ni­ty both to make cli­mate progress and to strength­en peo­ple’s health and well-being by improv­ing its streets.

To find out what vot­ers think about that oppor­tu­ni­ty, we teamed up with our friends at Seat­tle Neigh­bor­hood Green­ways (SNG) to ask respon­dents of our most recent city­wide research sur­vey in Seat­tle what val­ues they think should guide the fund­ing and allo­ca­tion of space on our streets — and what ideas they are inter­est­ed in imple­ment­ing to speed our recov­ery from the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic and get us clos­er to our equi­ty, liv­abil­i­ty, cli­mate action, and safe­ty goals.

Today, we’re very hap­py to be able to share our find­ings with the public.

Let’s dive in to the ques­tions we asked and the respons­es. Our first ques­tion was a val­ues-ques­tion that asked Seat­tleites to respond to a series of state­ments espous­ing prin­ci­ples for how the city funds and allo­cates space on its streets.

QUESTION: Seat­tle has impor­tant deci­sions to make about its trans­porta­tion future over the next few years. Think­ing about how Seat­tle could fund and allo­cate space on our streets, please indi­cate how impor­tant each of the fol­low­ing val­ues are to you.


Safe­ty: Every­one should be safe no mat­ter how they get around on our streets.

Impor­tant: 96%Not Impor­tant: 4%Not sure:
VerySome­whatNot TooNot At All1%

Acces­si­bil­i­ty: Seniors, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, and oth­ers who are unable to dri­ve should be able to get around com­fort­ably and with dignity.

Impor­tant: 94%Not Impor­tant: 4%Not sure:
VerySome­whatNot TooNot At All2%

Afford­abil­i­ty: Peo­ple should have afford­able trans­porta­tion options to get around.

Impor­tant: 92%Not Impor­tant: 6%Not sure:
VerySome­whatNot TooNot At All1%

Con­ve­nience: Peo­ple should have con­ve­nient trans­porta­tion options that get them out of traf­fic and save time.

Impor­tant: 91%Not Impor­tant: 7%Not sure:
VerySome­whatNot TooNot At All2%

Kid-friend­ly streets: Kids who are old enough should be able to safe­ly and inde­pen­dent­ly walk or bike to school, parks, and friends’ houses.

Impor­tant: 89%Not Impor­tant: 9%Not sure:
VerySome­whatNot TooNot At All2%

Racial equi­ty: Com­mu­ni­ties of col­or deserve safe streets.

Impor­tant: 88%Not Impor­tant: 9%Not sure:
VerySome­whatNot TooNot At All3%

Clean envi­ron­ment: We must reduce cli­mate-dam­ag­ing emis­sions and air pollution.

Impor­tant: 88%Not Impor­tant: 10%Not sure:
VerySome­whatNot TooNot At All2%

Health: It should be easy for peo­ple to build exer­cise into their dai­ly rou­tine and lead health­i­er lives.

Impor­tant: 82%Not Impor­tant: 15%Not sure:
VerySome­whatNot TooNot At All3%

Hap­pi­ness: Peo­ple should have options to get around town that bring them joy.

Impor­tant: 73%Not Impor­tant: 23%Not sure:
VerySome­whatNot TooNot At All4%

As we can see, all these val­ues were char­ac­ter­ized by more than sev­en out of ten respon­dents as impor­tant. Safe­ty and and acces­si­bil­i­ty topped the list, but afford­abil­i­ty, con­ve­nience, kid-friend­ly streets, racial equi­ty, clean envi­ron­ment, health, and hap­pi­ness were also deemed impor­tant by most respondents.

Next, we asked about a set of ideas for cre­at­ing more space on our streets for peo­ple as we recov­er from the coro­n­avirus pandemic.

QUESTION: Dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, many cities across the coun­try, includ­ing Seat­tle, made changes to their streets to cre­ate more space for walk­ing, bik­ing, and out­door din­ing. Please indi­cate whether you would sup­port or oppose mak­ing each of the fol­low­ing changes in your neigh­bor­hood as the state recov­ers from COVID-19, even if it means remov­ing a lane of traf­fic or park­ing spaces.


Safe walk­ing and bik­ing routes for kids, par­ents, and teach­ers to get to schools

Sup­port: 84%Oppose: 14%Not sure:

More space for out­door din­ing and retail to sup­port small businesses

Sup­port: 84%Oppose: 14%Not sure:

Wider side­walks and plant­i­ng strips to give peo­ple more room to walk and plant more street trees

Sup­port: 78%Oppose: 19%Not sure:

Giv­ing bus­es their own lanes to speed up bus trips

Sup­port: 74%Oppose: 23%Not sure:

Bike lanes that are phys­i­cal­ly sep­a­rat­ed from cars to make every­body safer

Sup­port: 71%Oppose: 26%Not sure:

Safe routes to school got the biggest response, fol­lowed by more space for out­door din­ing and retail. Wider side­walks and plant­i­ng strips were also extreme­ly pop­u­lar, as were cre­at­ing more ded­i­cat­ed bus lanes and bike lanes pro­tect­ed from auto traf­fic. As we can see, no idea polled under 70%.

In our third ques­tion, we gave respon­dents even more ideas to respond to.

QUESTION: Seat­tle has ambi­tious cli­mate, health, equi­ty, liv­abil­i­ty, eco­nom­ic, and safe­ty goals. Do you sup­port or oppose mak­ing the fol­low­ing changes to get us clos­er to these goals?


Pro­vid­ing for more homes, retail, and neigh­bor­hood ameni­ties in order to cre­ate a city where peo­ple can walk to all their dai­ly needs in fif­teen min­utes or less.

Sup­port: 81%Oppose: 14%Not sure:

Allow­ing shop­ping streets such as the street next to Pike Place Mar­ket to lim­it vehi­cle traf­fic to load­ing and unload­ing so that peo­ple can walk com­fort­ably and safely.

Sup­port: 81%Oppose: 15%Not sure:

Shift­ing the enforce­ment of traf­fic laws from the Seat­tle Police Depart­ment to the Seat­tle Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion to allow police to focus on oth­er priorities.

Sup­port: 73%Oppose: 17%Not sure:

Cre­at­ing low-traf­fic, low-speed neigh­bor­hood streets where peo­ple can safe­ly walk, bike, run, and play in the street — and car traf­fic is lim­it­ed to deliv­er­ies and local access only.

Sup­port: 67%Oppose: 28%Not sure:

Allow­ing schools to close their adja­cent streets dur­ing the school year to cre­ate a safer envi­ron­ment for kids to get to and from school.

Sup­port: 55%Oppose: 38%Not sure:

Requir­ing prop­er­ty own­ers to repair side­walks when they sell their prop­er­ty to make the side­walks safer and more acces­si­ble for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and the elderly.

Sup­port: 45%Oppose: 47%Not sure:

As with the pre­vi­ous ques­tion, we saw lot of enthusiasm.

Pro­vid­ing for more ameni­ties topped the list in response to this ques­tion, fol­lowed by allow­ing shop­ping streets such as Pike Place to lim­it vehi­cle traf­fic and shift­ing the enforce­ment of traf­fic laws to SDOT from SPD.

There was less inter­est in allow­ing schools to close adja­cent streets dur­ing the school year, but a major­i­ty still expressed support.

The only idea that was not pop­u­lar out of all the ideas we test­ed was requir­ing prop­er­ty own­ers to repair side­walks when they sell their property.

Seat­tle Neigh­bor­hood Green­ways’ Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Gor­don Padelford not­ed that these find­ings demon­strate that there is already a strong con­sen­sus among vot­ers that Seat­tle should be mak­ing deci­sions about its streets that put peo­ple first.

“Despite the emerg­ing nar­ra­tive that Seat­tle is deeply frac­tured, at least when it comes to trans­porta­tion issues Seat­tlites are sur­pris­ing­ly unit­ed,” he said.

“Even when it comes to seem­ing­ly con­tentious trans­porta­tion projects that require con­vert­ing a lane or traf­fic or park­ing spaces, Seat­tle vot­ers were over­whelm­ing­ly sup­port­ive,” he added, point­ing to the high per­cent­ages. “They are will­ing to con­vert trav­el lanes and park­ing lanes into more space for kids to get to school, out­door din­ing, wider side­walks, safe bike lanes, and bus lanes. This sci­en­tif­ic polling finds that Seat­tle vot­ers are in fact more unit­ed around an inclu­sive trans­porta­tion vision than parts of the pub­lic dis­course would lead us to believe.”

While change can be hard, change is also nec­es­sary. We have cho­sen for years here in Cas­ca­dia to build what are essen­tial­ly traf­fic sew­ers instead of prop­er streets in our urban cen­ters and sub­urbs alike. When streets only serve cars, more peo­ple dri­ve, because dri­ving is the encour­aged and sanc­tioned default.

Not long after NPI was found­ed near­ly two decades ago, I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to lis­ten to a talk by one of the lead­ers of the Project for Pub­lic Spaces, which has cham­pi­oned ideas like place­mak­ing for almost fifty years. The high­light of that talk was a pre­sen­ta­tion that depict­ed amaz­ing spaces like Pike Place Mar­ket and described the char­ac­ter­is­tics of what makes them great.

Our streets can be more than just con­vey­er belts for cars. They can be attrac­tive places them­selves: places where peo­ple can walk in safe­ty, bike in com­fort, or sit down at a cafe to read a book or watch the world go by.

Seat­tle has tak­en steps towards embrac­ing this future in the last few years. Now the city must accel­er­ate its trans­for­ma­tion to a peo­ple-cen­tric metrop­o­lis. Our data demon­strates that vot­ers are ready and enthu­si­as­tic to move forward.

We thank our friends at Seat­tle Neigh­bor­hood Green­ways for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to team up on explor­ing vot­ers’ sup­port for ideas that can improve our streets and raise our qual­i­ty of life. These were fun ques­tions to ask!

The poll these ques­tions were a part of, which was con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute by Change Research, has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.1% at the 95% con­fi­dence inter­val. All 617 respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed online. The poll was in the field from Tues­day, Octo­ber 12th, 2021 through Fri­day, Octo­ber 15th, 2021. Fol­low this link if you’re inter­est­ed in a detailed primer on the survey’s method­ol­o­gy along with infor­ma­tion about who took the poll. 

We urge Seat­tle’s incom­ing elect­ed lead­er­ship, includ­ing May­or-elect Har­rell, Coun­cilmem­ber Tere­sa Mosque­da, and Coun­cilmem­ber-elect Sara Nel­son to study these find­ings and join with their col­leagues in act­ing on them.

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

First raging fires, now epic floods: British Columbia suffers perils of climate damage

British Columbi­a’s Greater Van­cou­ver and Low­er Main­land pop­u­la­tion cen­ters are cur­rent­ly cut off by land from the rest of Cana­da after an “atmos­pher­ic riv­er” caused severe flood­ing of rivers in the Cas­cade and Coast moun­tain ranges.

The “province on the Pacif­ic” was just begin­ning to recov­er from a sum­mer of record heat, and wild­fires which rav­aged the Fras­er Canyon town of Lyt­ton and threat­ened the ranch­ing com­mu­ni­ty of Mer­ritt with evacuation.

Mer­ritt, a ranch­ing town of 7,000, is a place where I and Rock­ies-bound hik­ing bud­dies reg­u­lar­ly stop for lunch while trav­el­ing the Coqui­hal­la High­way, the main route for recre­ation­al and com­mer­cial trav­el into inte­ri­or British Columbia.

All the town’s res­i­dents were being evac­u­at­ed Tues­day to Kelow­na and Kam­loops. The Coqui­hal­la is closed due to a mas­sive washout.

Asked about high­way clo­sures, British Colum­bia Pub­lic Works Min­is­ter (and act­ing Pre­mier) Mike Farn­worth told reporters: “In some cas­es, it can be hours, or a day to remove debris. But in some cas­es, like the Coqui­hal­la, it could be sev­er­al weeks or months.”

What hap­pened? The “atmos­pher­ic riv­er” off the Pacif­ic scored a direct hit on What­com Coun­ty and the low­er Fras­er Riv­er val­ley. Flood­wa­ters cov­ered the Tran­sCana­da High­way north of the bor­der towns of Sumas. Much of Abbots­ford has been evac­u­at­ed due to fail­ure of a pump­ing station.

Flooding in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada

Flood­ing in Abbots­ford, British Colum­bia, Cana­da (BC Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Fur­ther east, the town of Hope is found at the junc­tion of five major high­ways, three lead­ing into the inte­ri­or. It also sits beneath 6,900-foot Mt. Cheam and oth­er peaks of the Lucky Four group.

Hope received 8.55 inch­es of rain from the atmos­pher­ic riv­er. The town has been cut off with high­ways flood­ed in all direc­tions. An esti­mat­ed 250 strand­ed motorists were holed up at Grace Bap­tist Church.

West on High­way 7, which runs north of the Fras­er Riv­er, more than three hun­dred peo­ple (and twen­ty-six dogs) had to be air­lift­ed out of the flood’s way. Both High­way 7 and the Tran­sCana­da High­way, head­ed down­stream, were closed by flood­ing. Upstream, land­slides closed the north and east­bound Tran­sCana­da High­way in the Fras­er Canyon, and High­way 3, the south­ern Trans Provin­cial High­way which pass­es through the Cascades.

About 110 miles east of Van­cou­ver, on the Trans Provin­cial High­way, the town of Prince­ton (pop­u­la­tion 3000) found itself half flood­ed from waters of the Sim­ilka­meen Riv­er, with no potable water, and with a rup­tured gas line. Mild week­end weath­er gave way to sub-freez­ing temperatures.

On Van­cou­ver Island, the dra­mat­ic Mala­hat High­way north of Vic­to­ria was closed for twelve hours a day, and open to one-way car car­a­vans, as debris were cleared.

The era of cli­mate dam­age has hit hard at a province once nick­named Canada’s “lotus land.” Mod­er­at­ing win­ter tem­per­a­tures in remote reach­es of the Chilcotin Plateau increased the pine bark bee­tle pop­u­la­tion, killing hun­dreds of miles of forests stretch­ing north and east. A Van­cou­ver-to-Ter­race flight yields views of orange (dying) and gray (dead) Lodge­pole pine forests.

The dead forests have fed wild­fires, from the vil­lage of Tele­graph Creek, on the Stikine Riv­er just above the Alas­ka bor­der, to Koote­nay Nation­al Park near the Alber­ta bor­der in the Cana­di­an Rockies.

Mount Assiniboine in B.C.

Mount Assini­boine in British Colum­bia (Pho­to: KJL, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

In the sum­mer of 2018, our par­ty bound for Mount Assini­boine trav­eled six hun­dred and twen­ty-eight miles, through smoke from four major fires, to Can­more, Alber­ta. British Colum­bia Pre­mier John Hor­gan has spo­ken of the fires as a “new normal.”

The “heat dome” last June yield­ed Canada’s all-time tem­per­a­ture record of 49.6 degrees Cel­sius or 121.3 degrees Fahren­heit in Lytton.

Days lat­er a “wall of fire” burned nine­ty per­cent of the community.

All told, dur­ing the heat wave, British Colum­bia expe­ri­enced 486 deaths com­pared to 165 in a peri­od of nor­mal temperatures.

The main pop­u­la­tion cen­ters of British Colum­bia are flanked to the north by the Coast Range, to the east by the Cas­cades. The peaks squeeze atmos­pher­ic rivers, espe­cial­ly in places like Hope and the area around Squamish north of Vancouver.

Vis­i­tors see spec­tac­u­lar water­falls in sum­mer but can con­front rag­ing rivers dur­ing fall storms and sud­den spring runoff.

A test of British Columbia’s “Alert Ready” cell phone emer­gency warn­ing sys­tem was sched­uled for Fri­day, but was can­celed due to the ongo­ing, real emergency.

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

Patty Murray maintains double digit lead over Tiffany Smiley for U.S. Senate, NPI poll finds

Wash­ing­ton’s senior Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray remains well posi­tioned for reelec­tion to anoth­er term next year, accord­ing to NPI’s lat­est statewide research poll. 50% of 909 like­ly 2022 midterm vot­ers sur­veyed last week said they’d vote for Mur­ray, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent, if the elec­tion were being held today, while 37% said they would vote for Repub­li­can chal­lenger Tiffany Smiley.

13% were not sure.

November 2021: Patty Murray vs. Tiffany Smiley, 2022

Visu­al­iza­tion of NPI’s Novem­ber 2021 poll find­ing show­ing Pat­ty Mur­ray with a thir­teen point lead over Tiffany Smiley

When we last checked in on this race back in the spring, Mur­ray had a six­teen point lead over Smi­ley with 10% unde­cid­ed. Mur­ray’s lead has now been shaved to thir­teen points, but it remains a com­fort­able dou­ble dig­it lead nonetheless.

Smi­ley is Mur­ray’s high­est pro­file oppo­nent. She has the back­ing of the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty and nation­al Repub­li­can fig­ures like Tom Cot­ton, who Smi­ley proud­ly announced had endorsed her cam­paign yesterday.

Smi­ley’s recent cam­paign updates have focused on oppos­ing Pres­i­dent Biden’s Build Back Bet­ter agen­da, call­ing for “bor­der secu­ri­ty” (should­n’t that have been achieved dur­ing the Trump years when Repub­li­cans were in pow­er?) and bash­ing Mur­ray and Biden over infla­tion not keep­ing up with wage growth.

Smi­ley’s cam­paign has also recent­ly cir­cu­lat­ed a clip from Flori­da’s Rick Scott (the head of the Nation­al Repub­li­can Sen­a­to­r­i­al Com­mit­tee) on Fox say­ing that he thinks Repub­li­cans have a shot at defeat­ing Mur­ray in Washington.

Our polling, how­ev­er, sug­gests that such talk is sim­ply wish­ful think­ing on Scott and the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s part. They’d cer­tain­ly like for Democ­rats to believe that Mur­ray’s reelec­tion in Wash­ing­ton is in jeopardy.

But right now, it’s not. Mur­ray con­tin­ues to have a dou­ble dig­it lead over Smiley.

And what’s more, our polling also finds that Mur­ray’s approval rat­ing has improved since May. It was 40% six months ago; now it’s 46%. 39% dis­ap­prove, com­pared to 36% in May. Mur­ray’s net approval has increased by three per­cent­age points. That sug­gests more vot­ers are tak­ing notice of Mur­ray’s work in the Senate.

QUESTION: Do you approve or dis­ap­prove of Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Murray’s job performance?


  • Approve: 46%
  • Dis­ap­prove: 39%
  • Not sure: 14%

While there were sig­nif­i­cant­ly few­er “not sure” respons­es to the job per­for­mance ques­tion, there were slight­ly more “not sure” respons­es to the hypo­thet­i­cal matchup ques­tion. Here are the horser­ace num­bers again:

QUESTION: If the 2022 elec­tion for Unit­ed States Sen­ate were being held today and the can­di­dates were Demo­c­rat Pat­ty Mur­ray and Repub­li­can Tiffany Smi­ley, who would you vote for?


  • Pat­ty Mur­ray: 50%
  • Tiffany Smi­ley: 37%
  • Not sure: 13%

The only dif­fer­ence between our May and Novem­ber find­ings is that slight­ly few­er respon­dents are com­mit­ted to Mur­ray. Smi­ley’s sup­port, mean­while, has­n’t budged. It was 37% back in the spring, and it’s 37% now.

37% is also the per­cent­age that Don­ald Trump received in our Octo­ber and May sur­veys last year, in the lead-up to the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. He lost big.

We con­sis­tent­ly see the num­ber 37% in our polling, because since ear­ly 2017, that’s been about the size of the loy­al Repub­li­can por­tion of the elec­torate in Wash­ing­ton State. Any Repub­li­can run­ning statewide in a top of the tick­et race in the Ever­green State should be able to get at least 37%, in oth­er words.

No Repub­li­can has won a U.S. Sen­ate race in Wash­ing­ton since the late Slade Gor­ton last won reelec­tion in 1994. And no Repub­li­can Sen­ate can­di­date has knocked out a Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent since Gor­ton rode Rea­gan’s coat­tails and sent the leg­endary retire­ment War­ren G. Mag­nu­son into retire­ment in 1980.

Our find­ing is pret­ty sim­i­lar to Sur­veyUSA’s horser­ace find­ing from a cou­ple weeks ago. On behalf of KING5, Sur­veyUSA sur­veyed 542 reg­is­tered vot­ers, and found 49% sup­port for Mur­ray, 31% sup­port for Smi­ley, and 24% unde­cid­ed.

The gap between Mur­ray and Smi­ley was even greater than in our polling, with an eigh­teen point lead for Mur­ray due to Smi­ley’s mediocre showing.

Wash­ing­ton is con­sid­ered “Safe Demo­c­ra­t­ic” by pun­dits for a rea­son. It reli­ably votes Demo­c­ra­t­ic in top of the tick­et races, regard­less of the nation­al polit­i­cal cli­mate, and has for decades. Smi­ley is a good fundrais­er and is try­ing to run an active cam­paign that excites the base. But so far, she is not out­polling Don­ald Trump, and she would have to do that to have even a small chance of winning.

We’ll con­tin­ue to mon­i­tor the race to see if any­thing changes.

Our sur­vey of 909 like­ly 2022 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, Novem­ber 10th through Thurs­day, Novem­ber 11th, 2021.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (50%) and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents (50%).

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

More infor­ma­tion about the sur­vey’s method­ol­o­gy is avail­able here.

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

Did the 2021 Washington State Redistricting Commission fail? Deadline day meeting ends with rushed, last second votes and no maps

Last night at 11:59:59 PM Pacif­ic was the Wash­ing­ton State Redis­trict­ing Com­mis­sion’s statu­to­ry and con­sti­tu­tion­al dead­line to agree on a new set of leg­isla­tive and con­gres­sion­al maps for the Ever­green State.

The Com­mis­sion, a bipar­ti­san body of four mem­bers formed every ten years for redis­trict­ing pur­pos­es, sched­uled a meet­ing for 7 PM Pacif­ic with the osten­si­ble pur­pose of fin­ish­ing its work and send­ing the Leg­is­la­ture a set of maps.

This cycle’s com­mis­sion­ers are Brady Walkin­shaw (cho­sen by the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus), April Sims (cho­sen by the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus), Joe Fain (cho­sen by the Sen­ate Repub­li­can cau­cus), Paul Graves (cho­sen by the House Repub­li­can cau­cus) and Sarah Augus­tine (cho­sen by Walkin­shaw, Sims, Graves, and Fain to be their non­par­ti­san, non­vot­ing chair and facilitator.)

Jour­nal­ists, activists, and observers eager­ly tuned in to the elec­tron­ic 7 PM meet­ing being broad­cast on TVW and YouTube, expect­ing to see the com­mis­sion­ers final­ly hud­dle in pub­lic and attempt to fin­ish up their work.

But instead, what view­ers saw for the vast major­i­ty of near­ly five hours was a “Meet­ing on Break” mes­sage, with com­mis­sion staff claim­ing to reporters like Cross­cut’s Melis­sa San­tos that the com­mis­sion­ers were meet­ing in “cau­cus dyads” — par­ti­san (Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Repub­li­can) groups of two.

As the hours went by with noth­ing but occa­sion­al cameos from the staff and com­mis­sion­ers, it became appar­ent that the Com­mis­sion would not fin­ish its work before the eleventh hour, and pos­si­bly not at all. By 11:30 PM, the com­mis­sion­ers had still not begun any mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion in pub­lic on any set of proposals.

With a few min­utes left to go before mid­night, the com­mis­sion­ers belat­ed­ly appeared togeth­er onscreen once more, with non­vot­ing Chair Sarah Augus­tine ask­ing them if they want­ed to “com­mence” discussions.

An almost non­sen­si­cal exchange then ensued, fol­lowed by yet anoth­er “cau­cus dyad” break, fol­lowed by a chaot­ic final few min­utes in which Augus­tine quick­ly enter­tained a set of motions that com­mis­sion­ers unan­i­mous­ly approved.

Two of the motions were to sup­pos­ed­ly adopt new leg­isla­tive and con­gres­sion­al dis­trict maps — phan­tom leg­isla­tive and con­gres­sion­al maps, that is.

I say “phan­tom” because it was evi­dent that no nego­ti­at­ed final maps exist­ed for the com­mis­sion­ers to con­sid­er or approve, not even in dig­i­tal form.

The com­mis­sion­ers sug­gest­ed their final maps would be ready by some­time this morn­ing, well after the dead­line had passed, per­haps by “sun­rise.”

The oth­er motions adopt­ed by the com­mis­sion­ers around mid­night were to approve a res­o­lu­tion and let­ter of trans­mit­tal, pre­sum­ably to the Legislature.

No doc­u­ments were shown onscreen pri­or to or dur­ing the votes, and no doc­u­ments were post­ed by the com­mis­sion imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing the meeting.

No dis­cus­sion fol­lowed the votes, either. Instead, Augus­tine abrupt­ly adjourned the meet­ing, leav­ing peo­ple won­der­ing what had just happened.

As of press time, there were still no maps or doc­u­ments avail­able from the meet­ing on the com­mis­sion’s offi­cial website.

The Com­mis­sion had, in antic­i­pa­tion of fin­ish­ing its work on time, sched­uled a media avail­abil­i­ty for 10 AM this morn­ing to take reporters’ questions.

But at 9:41 AM today, com­mis­sion staff announced that the event had been can­celled and advised: “A state­ment from the Com­mis­sion is forthcoming.”

It seems at this point that the Com­mis­sion has failed to pro­duce a map that at least three com­mis­sion­ers have agreed to as the Con­sti­tu­tion requires.

If so, then the job of draw­ing new leg­isla­tive and con­gres­sion­al maps for Wash­ing­ton State will fall to the State Supreme Court:

(6) The com­mis­sion shall com­plete redis­trict­ing as soon as pos­si­ble fol­low­ing the fed­er­al decen­ni­al cen­sus, but no lat­er than Novem­ber 15th of each year end­ing in one. At least three of the vot­ing mem­bers shall approve such a redis­trict­ing plan. If three of the vot­ing mem­bers of the com­mis­sion fail to approve a plan with­in the time lim­i­ta­tions pro­vid­ed in this sub­sec­tion, the supreme court shall adopt a plan by April 30th of the year end­ing in two in con­for­mance with the stan­dards set forth in sub­sec­tion (5) of this section.

– Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 43, Wash­ing­ton State Constitution

High­light­ed empha­sis is mine.

As men­tioned, most of the Com­mis­sion’s five hour meet­ing was just the cyber equiv­a­lent of dead air. NPI edit­ed the meet­ing footage down to just the parts where com­mis­sion­ers or staff were talk­ing or about to talk, and clocked that por­tion of the event at just under forty minutes.

If you’d like to watch the meet­ing in its entire­ty with­out hav­ing to jump around to find those parts, we’ve cre­at­ed a record­ing for you:

The com­mis­sion­ers’ fail­ure to do any mean­ing­ful work in pub­lic, espe­cial­ly at the end of the process, prompt­ed many observers to won­der whether the Com­mis­sion vio­lat­ed the state’s open meet­ing laws.

The Leg­is­la­ture should pass new rules for the Redis­trict­ing Com­mis­sion,” tweet­ed Pierce Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­ber Derek Young short­ly before the com­mis­sion abrupt­ly adjourned. “At this point the only way they could adopt maps is with zero trans­paren­cy. I can only assume they’re stat­ing posi­tions to build a record for the courts know­ing the dead­line is blown.”

If a local gov­ern­ment did any­thing like this the Leg­is­la­ture would spend months scold­ing every city and coun­ty across the state for months.”

“This is a com­plete joke,” Young added. 

Because the Supreme Court has orig­i­nal juris­dic­tion to hear all cas­es involv­ing leg­isla­tive and con­gres­sion­al redis­trict­ing, the Court would also be the venue for any law­suits alleg­ing that the Com­mis­sion vio­lat­ed the state’s open meet­ing laws.

Pre­sum­ing it gets the job of draw­ing new bound­aries for the first time in state his­to­ry, the Court will have anoth­er few months to cre­ate maps.

The Court’s con­sti­tu­tion­al dead­line, as not­ed in the above excerpt, is April 30th, 2022, well after the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture will have adjourned its even-num­bered year short ses­sion. The Con­sti­tu­tion does not give the Leg­is­la­ture an oppor­tu­ni­ty to review or change maps drawn by the Supreme Court. So what­ev­er the Court decides on will be what the state uses for the next ten years.

This post will be updat­ed when the Com­mis­sion’s state­ment is available.

10:56 AM UPDATE: The Com­mis­sion has admit­ted that it failed.

Last night, after sub­stan­tial work marked by mutu­al respect and ded­i­ca­tion to the impor­tant task, the four vot­ing com­mis­sion­ers on the state redis­trict­ing com­mis­sion were unable to adopt a dis­trict­ing plan by the mid­night deadline.

The late release of the 2020 cen­sus data com­bined with tech­ni­cal chal­lenges ham­pered the com­mis­sion’s work considerably.

Pur­suant to RCW 44.05.100, the Supreme Court now has juris­dic­tion to adopt a dis­trict­ing plan.

The com­mis­sion­ers have every faith that the Supreme Court will draw maps that are fair and wor­thy of the peo­ple of Washington.

Still unex­plained is why the Com­mis­sion did­n’t just admit last night that they had run out of time. Why were votes held on maps that did not exist and that no one had seen? It appears that no answers may be imme­di­ate­ly forthcoming.

Monday, November 15th, 2021

Mudslides, washouts have made key sections of Cascadia’s major highways impassable

Mud­slides and washouts pre­cip­i­tat­ed by tor­ren­tial rain­fall have made high­ways on both sides of the Unit­ed States — Cana­da bor­der impass­able, strand­ing trav­el­ers and fur­ther dis­rupt­ing com­merce just days before the onset of the hol­i­day season.

On the U.S. side, some of the worst flood­ing and road impacts were in low-lying parts of What­com and Skag­it coun­ties, which are locat­ed between Seat­tle and Van­cou­ver, British Colum­bia in the state’s north­west­ern corner.

As of just after dusk on Mon­day, Novem­ber 15th, Inter­state 5 was closed in both direc­tions between Belling­ham and Mount Ver­non at Lake Samish, with State Route 511 and State Route 9 also report­ed to be impass­able. No detour routes are avail­able, which means dri­vers’ only option is to turn around.

In a bul­letin, WSDOT advised:

Both direc­tions of I‑5 between North Lake Samish Dri­ve (mile­post 247) and Nulle Road (mile­post 245) in south What­com Coun­ty will be closed overnight due to water over the road and debris slides. No detour routes will be in place for these closures.

Tomor­row morn­ing, WSDOT will eval­u­ate the hill­side along north­bound I‑5 to deter­mine the next steps. The issues on south­bound I‑5 are relat­ed to water over the road­way 6–8 inch­es deep, which WSDOT will work to address dur­ing the day­light hours tomor­row. Trav­el­ers should not attempt to go around the clo­sures for everyone’s safety.

What’s next:

There are mul­ti­ple oth­er high­way clo­sures through­out What­com and Skag­it coun­ties due to flood­ing and slides. 

Our crews will con­tin­ue to mon­i­tor and assess con­di­tions and will reopen when it is safe to do so. 

Find infor­ma­tion about local road clo­sures, vis­it Pub­lic Works | What­com Coun­ty, WA — Offi­cial Web­site and Skag­it Coun­ty Pub­lic Works Road Closures.

The Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice pro­vides updat­ed weath­er alerts, includ­ing infor­ma­tion about flooding. 

What dri­vers should do in flood­ed areas:

  • If you don’t need to be out on the roads, please stay home at the request of local jurisdictions.
  • “Turn around, don’t drown.” Do not dri­ve through stand­ing water on the road­way. Not only is it dif­fi­cult to tell the con­di­tion of the road is under­neath the water, it only takes 6 inch­es of water on the road­way for vehi­cles to stall and 12 inch­es of water to car­ry a vehi­cle off the roadway.
  • Observe all “Road Closed” signs — they are put in place for your safety.
  • Be alert. WSDOT crews, pub­lic works, emer­gency respon­ders and util­i­ty crews are work­ing to clear and reopen roads as quick­ly and safe­ly as possible. 

The City of Belling­ham post­ed drone footage of the flood­ing in Belling­ham.

Here’s a KING5 report on the dam­age in What­com Coun­ty.

On the Cana­di­an side, mud­slides and washouts have destroyed greater Van­cou­ver’s road links with the rest of Cana­da and forced the Trans­Moun­tain pipeline and its expan­sion project to shut down.

Parts of the province have seen up to 230 mil­lime­tres of rain in just 48 hours, and rain­fall, snow­fall, win­ter storm and wind warn­ings remain in effect across most of south­ern B.C. Envi­ron­ment Cana­da is fore­cast­ing anoth­er 30 mil­lime­tres for areas that have been hit the hard­est by the relent­less rain that began on Sat­ur­day, fol­lowed by winds gust­ing up to 90 kilo­me­tres an hour.

The British Colum­bia Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion flew over the washout at Tank Hill near Lyt­ton and Nicomen, and post­ed pho­tos of the ruined high­way on Twit­ter. It will like­ly take months to repair this stretch of the Tran­sCana­da Highway.

If the name Lyt­ton sounds famil­iar, it’s prob­a­bly because that’s the same British Colum­bia town that was destroyed by a rag­ing fire only a few months ago.

Also impass­able is High­way 1, one of the main routes east of Vancouver.

“Dri­vers are advised that High­way 1 in the Fras­er Val­ley will be closed in both direc­tions as of 7 PM Mon­day, Novem­ber 15th,” provin­cial offi­cials said in a state­ment. “The high­way clo­sure is between High­way 11 and No. 3 Road, and is nec­es­sary due to the flood warn­ing on the Sumas River.”

The por­tion of High­way 5 known as the Coqui­hal­la High­way is impass­able too, with the south­bound lanes hav­ing sim­ply dis­ap­peared in one spot. The high­way is closed in both direc­tions between Mer­ritt and Hope. As of nine hours ago, all res­i­dents of Mer­ritt are under an evac­u­a­tion order due to the flood­ing.

Only a few weeks ago, the city was under an evac­u­a­tion alert due to wild­fires.

High­way 8, too, is closed in both direc­tions. BC Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion says that there is flood­ing between Por­cu­pine Ridge Rd and Petit Creek Road for 33.5 km (9 kilo­me­ters east of Spences Bridge to 17 kilo­me­ters west of Merritt).

There’s a gallery on Flickr of road dam­age across British Colum­bia.

If you’re won­der­ing if there are any major roads that haven’t been affect­ed by the flood­ing, the answer is basi­cal­ly no. This is a real­ly bad time to trav­el and the author­i­ties are ask­ing that peo­ple just stay home or stay put for now.

British Columbia highway closures

British Colum­bia high­way clo­sures (Still from a Glob­al Nation­al News broadcast)

For those strand­ed, Cana­di­an Forces have been pro­vid­ing aer­i­al res­cues.

More rain is expect­ed overnight tonight. After that, Cas­ca­dia should get a break from the atmos­pher­ic riv­er that’s been dump­ing water on the PNW for most of the last few days. But it will take a long time to repair some of the dam­age men­tioned in this post, espe­cial­ly up in British Columbia.

Monday, November 15th, 2021

Ten months in, a plurality of Washingtonians still approve of Joe Biden’s job performance

As Pres­i­dent Joe Biden reach­es the ten month mark since his inau­gu­ra­tion, a new statewide poll con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute finds that a near major­i­ty of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers still approve of the job he’s doing, with slight­ly more than four in ten dis­ap­prov­ing and a small per­cent­age not sure.

49% of Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers sur­veyed from Novem­ber 10th-11th said they approved of Biden’s job per­for­mance, while 43% dis­ap­proved. 7% were not sure.

Plurality of Washingtonians approve of Joe Biden's job performance

Visu­al­iza­tion of NPI’s Novem­ber 2021 Biden job per­for­mance poll finding

Although Biden has worked hard to bring the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic under con­trol, restore com­pe­tence and eth­i­cal norms to the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, and work with Con­gress to pass leg­is­la­tion to improve Amer­i­cans’ lives, he has faced almost unceas­ing attacks from Repub­li­cans as well as harsh cov­er­age from mass media out­lets, includ­ing not just right out­lets like Fox, but also news­pa­pers, tele­vi­sion net­works, and online media that claim to be objec­tive in their coverage.

Con­se­quent­ly, his approval rat­ings have been on a down­ward tra­jec­to­ry, espe­cial­ly since mid-August, when the Tal­iban marched into Kab­ul and the NATO and Amer­i­can-backed Afghan gov­ern­ment col­lapsed, neces­si­tat­ing a mas­sive air­lift of Afghani allies from Hamid Karzai Inter­na­tion­al Airport.

How­ev­er, Biden remains above water here in Wash­ing­ton. His approval rat­ings aren’t as good as they were back in the spring, but they look a lot bet­ter than his nation­al num­bers. (In May, 54% of vot­ers we sur­veyed said they approved of Biden’s job per­for­mance, while 41% dis­ap­proved and 5% were not sure.)

As I not­ed back in May, Biden’s pre­de­ces­sor Don­ald Trump was nev­er above water in Wash­ing­ton State at any time dur­ing his pres­i­den­cy. Giv­en the degree of polar­iza­tion in our coun­try, the days when pres­i­dents could get sky-high approval rat­ings seem to be behind us, at least for the fore­see­able future.

Let’s take a look at Pres­i­dent Biden’s approval rat­ings by region.

First, here are the statewide num­bers again:

QUESTION: Do you approve or dis­ap­prove of Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s job performance?


  • Approve: 49%
  • Dis­ap­prove: 43%
  • Not sure: 7%

Now, here are the num­bers by region:

QUESTION: Do you approve or dis­ap­prove of Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s job performance?


  • King Coun­ty
    • Approve: 65%
    • Dis­ap­prove: 30%
    • Not sure: 4%
  • North Puget Sound 
    • Approve: 37%
    • Dis­ap­prove: 41%
    • Not sure: 22%
  • South Sound
    • Approve: 55%
    • Dis­ap­prove: 42%
    • Not sure: 3%
  • Olympic Penin­su­la and South­west Washington 
    • Approve: 39%
    • Dis­ap­prove: 54%
    • Not sure: 7%
  • East­ern and Cen­tral Washington 
    • Approve: 41%
    • Dis­ap­prove: 56%
    • Not sure: 3%

And here’s where sur­vey tak­ers are from:

  • King Coun­ty: 31%
  • North Puget Sound: 17%
  • South Sound: 13%
  • Olympic Penin­su­la and South­west Wash­ing­ton: 18%
  • East­ern or Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton: 21%

Although Biden’s num­bers have slipped in King Coun­ty, North Puget Sound, and the Olympic Penin­su­la / South­west Wash­ing­ton regions since May, the Pres­i­dent is hold­ing steady in East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton, and his South Sound num­bers are a lot bet­ter than they were back in the spring.

In fact, the South Sound num­bers are almost invert­ed from last spring.

That might sound strange, but it’s actu­al­ly pret­ty com­mon for there to be swings or vari­ances between the South Sound sub­am­ples in our statewide polls.

Because the South Sound sub­sam­ple is the small­est of all of our geo­graph­ic sub­sam­ples, it is espe­cial­ly prone to weird­ness. It has the high­est mar­gin of error of any geo­graph­ic sub­sam­ple in the survey.

This poll as a whole has a rea­son­ably low mar­gin of error, at just +/- 3.3%, due to its large sam­ple size (over nine hun­dred respon­dents participated).

But the South Sound’s mar­gin of error is around +/- 9%, since only 13% of the sur­vey tak­ers are from that region. It would be a mis­take to draw any sweep­ing con­clu­sions based on these geo­graph­ic sub­sam­ple per­cent­ages, espe­cial­ly the South Sound’s. While it’s nice to have some sense of how the regions break down, we have to be mind­ful that we’re run­ning up against the lim­i­ta­tions of what a statewide poll can tell us about pub­lic sen­ti­ments in a par­tic­u­lar area.

Our sur­vey of 909 like­ly 2022 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, Novem­ber 10th through Thurs­day, Novem­ber 11th, 2021.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (50%) and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents (50%).

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for NPI, and as men­tioned, it has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

As not­ed, nation­al­ly, Pres­i­dent Biden’s approval rat­ing is in rougher shape than it is in Wash­ing­ton State. Most of the recent nation­al polls have found Biden’s dis­ap­proval num­ber in the low fifties and approval in the low forties.

Tomor­row, we’ll have an update on the 2022 U.S. Sen­ate race in Washington.

Sunday, November 14th, 2021

Interstate 5 crossing in Lewis County damaged by bridge strike, WSDOT says

If you’re trav­el­ing through Lewis Coun­ty tonight, tomor­row, or any­time in the near future, be advised that Inter­state 5 is not oper­at­ing at full capac­i­ty due to anoth­er bridge strike inci­dent that report­ed­ly occurred around 7:55 PM tonight.

Bridge strike at Koontz Road

Bridge strike at Koontz Road (Pho­to cour­tesy of WSDOT)


The right lane on north­bound Inter­state 5 at mile­post 69.5, near the Koontz Road over­pass is closed due to an over height load strik­ing the under­side of the over­pass, dam­ag­ing the bridge and caus­ing con­crete to fall onto the roadway.

WSDOT bridge crews are assess­ing the dam­age to deter­mine next steps. There is cur­rent­ly no ETA for reopen­ing the right lane of the high­way. Trav­el­ers should expect delays through the area.

WSDOT pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed that all lanes of North­bound I‑5 were closed.

It is pos­si­ble to detour around the impact­ed area using the Jack­son High­way, which can be accessed from the Tole­do Vad­er Road or US 12 East exits.

The Koontz Road over­pass is locat­ed in between Exits 68 and 71 — as the WSDOT advi­so­ry men­tions — at mile­post 69.5, near the city of Napavine.

Napavine is close to halfway between Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton, and Port­land, Ore­gon. (Napavine’s north­ern neigh­bor, Chehalis, is approx­i­mate­ly equidis­tant from both major cities, which are among the largest cities in the Pacif­ic Northwest.)

This is far from the first time that an over­height load has struck an over­pass or a bridge sup­port sys­tem on an inter­state in Washington.

In July of 2018, the Danekas Road over­pass on I‑90 near Ritzville was dam­aged by bridge strike, requir­ing WSDOT to com­mis­sion emer­gency repairs.

I‑5’s Skag­it Riv­er Bridge infa­mous­ly col­lapsed in 2013 after a truck struck the bridge, caus­ing a huge amount of dis­rup­tion until a replace­ment bridge was built. (Amaz­ing­ly, no one was killed in the inci­dent, although there were close calls.)

Pri­or to that, in 2007, an over­height truck seri­ous­ly dam­aged an over­pass near Eas­t­on, which is locat­ed between Cle Elum and Sno­qualmie Pass, neces­si­tat­ing its demo­li­tion. The dri­ver of the truck was cit­ed by the Wash­ing­ton State Patrol for vio­lat­ing his trav­el per­mit. WSDOT had to scram­ble quick­ly to find peo­ple and equip­ment to bring the dam­aged bridge down on short notice.

Although WSDOT has repeat­ed­ly remind­ed com­mer­cial dri­vers to do their home­work and to know the exact height of their vehi­cle and the height of all over­pass­es they’ll be dri­ving under, bridge strike inci­dents con­tin­ue to occur reg­u­lar­ly in Wash­ing­ton, caus­ing lots of expen­sive dam­age and incon­ve­nienc­ing the trav­el­ing pub­lic for days or weeks at a time.

Per­haps oper­a­tors of over­height vehi­cles should be required by state law to check in with WSDOT or the Wash­ing­ton State Patrol before set­ting out, and to sub­mit a “dri­ve plan” with their vehi­cle height to a state main­tained app that could repeat­ed­ly warn and remind them when they are approach­ing an over­pass their vehi­cle won’t fit under. It’s sim­ply unac­cept­able that pre­ventable, cost­ly dam­age con­tin­ues to be caused so often by neg­li­gent driving.

Friday, November 12th, 2021

The November general results are (mostly) in. How do they line up with our Seattle polling?

In ten days, Wash­ing­ton State’s gen­er­al elec­tion will be cer­ti­fied and the results of the qual­i­fy­ing round of this year’s local elec­tions cycle will become final.

With only a hun­dred bal­lots list­ed by King Coun­ty Elec­tions as await­ing tab­u­la­tion, and with almost a month hav­ing now passed since we announced the elec­toral find­ings from our Octo­ber 2021 sur­vey of the Seat­tle elec­torate, it seems like a good time to revis­it our poll find­ings and exam­ine to what extent they antic­i­pat­ed the out­comes in the actu­al returns tal­lied by King Coun­ty Elections.

Our sur­vey, con­duct­ed by Change Research from Octo­ber 12th-15th, 2021, was our sec­ond poll of Seat­tle this cycle and one of just three inde­pen­dent polls con­duct­ed in the Emer­ald City between the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the August 2021 Top Two gen­er­al elec­tion and the dead­line to return bal­lots in this gen­er­al election.

617 like­ly vot­ers par­tic­i­pat­ed, all online.

We released the results of all of the elec­toral ques­tions on Tues­day, Octo­ber 19th, via press con­fer­ence and here on NPI’s Cas­ca­dia Advocate.

Our objec­tive in com­mis­sion­ing these sur­veys was to help every­one inter­est­ed in Seat­tle pol­i­tics get a bet­ter sense of the elec­toral land­scape and dynamics.

As I not­ed last sum­mer, polls can’t pre­dict the future. That is not their pur­pose. What polling can do, how­ev­er, is indi­cate how peo­ple (espe­cial­ly like­ly vot­ers!) may be feel­ing about pro­posed leg­is­la­tion, bal­lot mea­sures, an issue, or a can­di­date elec­tion at a par­tic­u­lar junc­ture. It’s cru­cial to note that all polls are snap­shots in time and that polls vary in terms of their qual­i­ty and credibility.

The method­ol­o­gy used to con­duct a poll is of great importance.

If a poll has a prop­er­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple and asks neu­tral ques­tions, the results can be use­ful. But if the inputs are bad, the out­puts will be bad.

That’s why we and Change Research worked hard to design and field a sur­vey that would be cred­i­ble. We want­ed the data to be use­ful. We are firm believ­ers in rig­or­ous, high qual­i­ty research, and we prac­tice what we preach.

Since we’re now at a junc­ture where we can safe­ly com­pare our data to the (most­ly) com­plete unof­fi­cial results, let’s dive in and see how the returns mesh with our polling from about a month ago.


What the poll found: Of the two final­ists for May­or, the poll found that for­mer Seat­tle City Coun­cilmem­ber Bruce Har­rell had a six­teen point lead over cur­rent Coun­cil Pres­i­dent M. Lore­na González, with near­ly a major­i­ty of respon­dents express­ing a pref­er­ence for Har­rell and just under a third express­ing a pref­er­ence for Gon­za­lez. 18% said they were not sure and 2% said they would not vote.

Mayor of Seattle poll finding, October 2021

A visu­al of NPI’s gen­er­al elec­tion poll find­ing for May­or of Seat­tle, 2021

What hap­pened in the elec­tion: Har­rell is deci­sive­ly defeat­ing González, who con­ced­ed the race last week. As of today, Har­rell has 58.58% of the vote and González has 41.12%. That’s a mar­gin of vic­to­ry a lit­tle more than sev­en­teen points, which is awful­ly close to the mar­gin in our polling.

Analy­sis: Har­rell entered the gen­er­al elec­tion as the fron­trun­ner, hav­ing won the August Top Two elec­tion by a nar­row mar­gin. There is no evi­dence that Har­rell ever lost his advan­tage. While he ulti­mate­ly pre­vailed over González in August by just a cou­ple points, he was able to jump out to a much big­ger lead before the vot­ing began in this final round, owing in part to the weak­ness of González’s cam­paign, which did­n’t offer a com­pelling mes­sage to voters.

The oth­er two inde­pen­dent polls I men­tioned ear­li­er — con­duct­ed by Elway for Cross­cut and by Strate­gies 360 for KOMO — each found Har­rell ahead of González by a few points at two dif­fer­ent junc­tures in Sep­tem­ber. By the time our sur­vey field­ed, Har­rell had built an even big­ger lead… one he would not relinquish.

The remain­ing unde­cid­ed vot­ers seem­ing­ly went to both can­di­dates in rough­ly equal pro­por­tions, leav­ing Har­rel­l’s already siz­able lead intact. Har­rel­l’s more than two-to-one advan­tage with vot­ers ages 65 and old­er was a key factor.

Seat­tle Times reporter Daniel Beek­man asked the González cam­paign for reac­tion to our poll find­ing as part of his sto­ry on the sur­vey’s findings.

Cam­paign man­ag­er Alex Koren’s response was to cite the cam­paign’s own inter­nal polling from a month pri­or show­ing González and Har­rell tied at 45% apiece, and to ques­tion the verac­i­ty of our sur­vey’s sam­ple. From Beek­man’s arti­cle:

Asked about the NPI poll, González cam­paign man­ag­er Alex Koren said the campaign’s own poll in mid-Sep­tem­ber showed the race tied at 45%.

In a Crosscut/Elway poll con­duct­ed in ear­ly Sep­tem­ber, 42% of respon­dents picked Har­rell, 27% picked González and 24% were unde­cid­ed. In a KOMO/Strategies 360 poll con­duct­ed in mid-Sep­tem­ber, 40% picked Har­rell, 33% González and 27% were undecided.

The NPI poll may have under­es­ti­mat­ed sup­port for pro­gres­sive can­di­dates like González and City Coun­cil Posi­tion 8 incum­bent Tere­sa Mosque­da, Koren said.

The most­ly com­plete results clear­ly demon­strate that our pol­l’s mod­el­ing and sam­pling was sound, where­as the González cam­paign’s poll was an outlier.

González’s inter­nal polling was nev­er cor­rob­o­rat­ed by any oth­er data that we saw, where­as our find­ing in favor of Har­rell was, we under­stand, cor­rob­o­rat­ed by pri­vate polling com­mis­sioned in Octo­ber by some of González’s allies.

Their data may not have been pub­licly avail­able, but ours was. We delib­er­ate­ly chose to release our find­ings in the hopes of pro­vid­ing a ser­vice to the public.

City Attorney

What the poll found: Of the two final­ists for Seat­tle City Attor­ney, our poll found a big lead for Repub­li­can Ann Davi­son, with abo­li­tion­ist Nicole Thomas-Kennedy nine­teen points behind. 43% of respon­dents to the poll said they were vot­ing for Davi­son, while 24% said they were vot­ing for Thomas-Kennedy. A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber, 30% said they were not sure. 2% said they would not vote.

Seattle City Attorney poll finding, October 2021

A visu­al of NPI’s gen­er­al elec­tion poll find­ing for Seat­tle City Attor­ney, Octo­ber 2021

What hap­pened in the elec­tion: Davi­son pre­vailed and will go on to win the elec­tion, but not by any­thing resem­bling the mar­gin in our poll. Davi­son cur­rent­ly has 51.52% of the vote, while Thomas-Kennedy has 47.7%. On Elec­tion Night, Davi­son had a much, much big­ger lead: 58.25% to Thomas-Kennedy’s 40.96%.

Analy­sis: This is a race in which the dynam­ics def­i­nite­ly changed dur­ing the vot­ing peri­od. The late bal­lots prove it. The rea­son Thomas-Kennedy is doing so much bet­ter in the elec­tion than in the sur­vey is that she was able to reel in a lot of those unde­cid­ed vot­ers in the final days and weeks of the 2021 campaign.

Those not sure vot­ers had to go some­where (93% of our sur­vey tak­ers said they were “def­i­nite­ly” plan­ning on vot­ing) and most went to Thomas-Kennedy.

Unlike González, Thomas-Kennedy’s cam­paign offered a strong clos­ing argu­ment in favor of her can­di­da­cy that was wide­ly shared on social media plat­forms. The elec­tion results, com­pared to our polling, sug­gest that argu­ment resonated.

Had Thomas-Kennedy cam­paigned with the brand­ing of a pro­gres­sive Demo­c­rat and not had to con­tend with for­mer Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nors and Supreme Court jus­tices endors­ing her oppo­nent (who was rat­ed “not qual­i­fied” by a coali­tion of bar asso­ci­a­tions) she might have pre­vailed in the elec­tion, even despite her Twit­ter his­to­ry, which her oppo­nents seized upon in an attempt to dis­cred­it her.

City Council, Position #8 (At-Large)

What the poll found: Of the two final­ists for Seat­tle City Coun­cil Posi­tion #8, one of the coun­cil’s two at large posi­tions, our poll found an eight point lead for Coun­cilmem­ber Tere­sa Mosque­da. Mosque­da, the only incum­bent on the bal­lot in the four city­wide races, got 39% in the sur­vey, while chal­lenger Ken­neth Wil­son got 31%. 26% said they were unde­cid­ed and 3% said they would not vote.

Seattle City Council #8 poll finding, October 2021

A visu­al of NPI’s gen­er­al elec­tion poll find­ing for Seat­tle City Coun­cil Posi­tion #8, 2021

What hap­pened in the elec­tion: Mosque­da is eas­i­ly defeat­ing Wil­son, with a per­cent­age almost iden­ti­cal to her fin­ish in the August 2021 Top Two elec­tion. Mosque­da has 59.36% of the bal­lots cast, while Wil­son has 40.19%. Mosque­da is present­ly the best per­form­ing can­di­date out of all eight can­di­dates in the four city­wide races. On Elec­tion Night, how­ev­er, her lead over Wil­son looked a lot more like the mar­gin in our poll. Then, she had 52.4%, while Wil­son had 47.1%.

Analy­sis: When we released our polling, I not­ed that there were a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of unde­cid­ed vot­ers in the race and added that I saw mul­ti­ple plau­si­ble sce­nar­ios for how the con­test could play out. One of those was that we’d see a repeat of the Top Two elec­tion dynam­ics, in which Mosque­da did not per­form all that impres­sive­ly in our pre­elec­tion polling, but went on to do just fine in the actu­al elec­tion, where “not sure” isn’t an option.

And that is the sce­nario that came to pass.

Wil­son has as much sup­port as all of Mosqueda’s chal­lengers col­lec­tive­ly had in the sum­mer, which sug­gests that peo­ple who were look­ing for an alter­na­tive to Mosque­da in the gen­er­al elec­tion hap­pi­ly grav­i­tat­ed to his can­di­da­cy, whilst most of the “not sure” vot­ers sim­ply came home to Mosque­da, pro­pelling her to a com­fort­able vic­to­ry and a sec­ond term on the Seat­tle City Council.

It is not at all uncom­mon for vot­ers in local races (espe­cial­ly races that don’t have par­ti­san labels on the bal­lot) to be not sure who they are vot­ing for pret­ty late in the elec­tion cycle, includ­ing through a lot of the home stretch. Change Research’s Ben Green­field and I dis­cussed this phe­nom­e­non in our post-results release Q&A.

City Council, Position #9 (At-Large)

What the poll found: Of the two final­ists for Seat­tle City Coun­cil Posi­tion #9, the coun­cil’s oth­er at-large posi­tion, our poll found a four point lead for Fre­mont Brew­ing cofounder Sara Nel­son. Nel­son received 41% sup­port in the sur­vey, while her oppo­nent, author and activist Nikki­ta Oliv­er, received 37%. 21% said they were unde­cid­ed and 2% said they would not vote.

Seattle City Council #9 poll finding, October 2021

A visu­al of NPI’s gen­er­al elec­tion poll find­ing for Seat­tle City Coun­cil Posi­tion #9, 2021

What hap­pened in the elec­tion: Dur­ing the vot­ing peri­od, Nel­son surged out to a big lead over Oliv­er, mir­ror­ing what hap­pened in the August elec­tion. On Elec­tion Night, Nel­son had 60.31% of the vote and Oliv­er was under forty per­cent, with 39.46%. But as bal­lots were count­ed, Oliv­er closed the gap, and the race is now clos­er… not as close as the City Attor­ney race, but cer­tain­ly clos­er than it was. Nel­son cur­rent­ly stands at 53.87%; Oliv­er has 45.96%.

Analy­sis: In the August Top Two elec­tion, Oliv­er was even­tu­al­ly able to over­come Nel­son’s Elec­tion Night lead and claim the first place spot thanks to late bal­lots swing­ing sev­er­al suc­ces­sive counts in their favor. How­ev­er, they weren’t able to do that in this final round because Nel­son jumped out to a much big­ger lead.

In August, Nel­son’s Elec­tion Night lead over Oliv­er was 7.4%, which was not an insur­mount­able spread. But in this round, Nel­son’s Elec­tion Night lead was over twice as big: 20.85%. And so, even though Oliv­er out­per­formed Nel­son in the late bal­lots again, it was­n’t enough to change the out­come of the race.

For Oliv­er to pull off anoth­er come­back, they would have had to have been clos­er to Nel­son in the ini­tial returns. But that sce­nario did­n’t come to pass.

Our polling found that the high­est geo­graph­ic con­cen­tra­tions of unde­cid­ed vot­ers in this race were in neigh­bor­hoods like West Seat­tle, Mag­no­lia, and down­town. The poll found that Nel­son was already doing real­ly well in North Seat­tle neigh­bor­hoods like Bit­ter Lake while Oliv­er had firm, enthu­si­as­tic sup­port in neigh­bor­hoods like the Rainier Val­ley and Bea­con Hill.

If you look at the Elec­tion Night precinct lev­el data (visu­al­ized here thanks to Jason Weill), you can see that Nel­son won most of the ear­ly vote in those neigh­bor­hoods with the most not sure vot­ers — like West Seat­tle. That accounts, at least in part, for how Nel­son pulled off the gen­er­al elec­tion surge.

Seattle School Board races (Districts #4, #5, and #7)

What the poll found: Of the six final­ists for Seat­tle School Board races, our poll found Vivan Song-Maritz, Michelle Sar­ju, and Bran­don Hersey with leads. Sar­ju and Hersey had large leads of more than twen­ty-five points over oppo­nents Dan Hard­er and Gen­e­sis Williamson, while Song-Maritz had a ten point lead over her oppo­nent Lau­ra Marie Rivera. Majori­ties or near majori­ties of vot­ers said they were unde­cid­ed. Small­er per­cent­ages said they would not vote.

Findings in the Seattle School Board races, October 2021

A visu­al of NPI’s gen­er­al elec­tion poll find­ings for the three Seat­tle School Board races on the Novem­ber 2021 ballot

What hap­pened in the elec­tion: Song-Maritz, Sar­ju, and Hersey are all win­ning, and all are win­ning by mar­gins exceed­ing those in the poll, which is to be expect­ed con­sid­er­ing how many unde­cid­ed vot­ers there were. Hersey has the biggest mar­gin of vic­to­ry because his oppo­nent dropped out months ago, with 92.71% of the vote to Williamson’s 6.63%. Michelle Sar­ju has 85.14% of the vote to Dan Hard­er’s 14.63%. And Song-Maritz has 71.97%, while Rivera has 27.67%.

Analy­sis: Our polling showed that there were three clear fron­trun­ners in these Seat­tle School Board races, and all of them were well posi­tioned for victory.

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, the unde­cid­ed vot­ers flocked to the fron­trun­ners and each of them jumped out to big leads in the ini­tial returns that they did not relinquish.

Song-Maritz was ini­tial­ly at 67% and was able to go up to 71% in the late bal­lots. Sar­ju and Hersey, mean­while, start­ed out in the eight­ies and nineties on Elec­tion Night, so their races saw less move­ment, but even they picked up sup­port as the count­ing went along, while Hard­er and Williamson slipped.

Hersey was the only incum­bent on the bal­lot, with Song Mar­tiz and Rivera hav­ing oust­ed appoint­ed board­mem­ber Erin Dury in the August Top Two election.

Final thoughts

Although our poll could­n’t pre­dict what would actu­al­ly hap­pen in the elec­tion, it did have the poten­tial to indi­cate who might win, as explained in the intro­duc­tion above. And those indi­ca­tions turned out to be right across the board.

All sev­en of the can­di­dates who placed first in our sur­vey are fin­ish­ing first in their races, and all sev­en of the can­di­dates who placed sec­ond are fin­ish­ing second.

That con­tin­ues the pat­tern we saw last year in our statewide polling, in which every result matched up with what the polling indi­cat­ed could hap­pen.

Our Octo­ber 2021 gen­er­al elec­tion sur­vey end­ed up being the only pub­lic poll in Seat­tle dur­ing the final month of the 2021 elec­tion cycle. While it was nice to see Elway/Crosscut and Strate­gies 360/KOMO do polls in Sep­tem­ber, we would have liked to have had anoth­er Octo­ber sur­vey to com­pare our data to.

With cred­i­ble pub­lic polling get­ting hard­er and hard­er to find, what we may do next time around, resources per­mit­ting, is sim­ply try to con­duct a sec­ond pre­elec­tion poll right before the vot­ing ends. That way, we won’t have to hope that anoth­er trust­ed enti­ty will come along and pro­vide fresh data.

Polls cost a lot of mon­ey to com­mis­sion, and a lot of thought­ful work goes into design­ing them. If you appre­ci­ate the research NPI is doing, we invite you to become a mem­ber of our orga­ni­za­tion. You can donate annu­al­ly or monthly.

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Please get in touch with us for more infor­ma­tion.

Survey methodology

  • Change Research, a Pub­lic Ben­e­fit Cor­po­ra­tion based in Cal­i­for­nia, sur­veyed 617 like­ly Novem­ber 2021 Top Two elec­tion vot­ers in Seat­tle from Tues­day, Octo­ber 12th to Fri­day, Octo­ber 15th on behalf of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute. All respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed online.
  • Change used tar­get­ed adver­tise­ments on Face­book, tar­get­ed adver­tise­ments on Insta­gram, and text mes­sages sent via the echo19 and/or Scale To Win plat­forms to cell phone num­bers list­ed on the vot­er file for indi­vid­u­als who qual­i­fied for the survey’s sam­ple uni­verse, based on their vot­er file data.
  • Regard­less of which of these sources a respon­dent came from, they were direct­ed to a sur­vey host­ed on SurveyMonkey’s web­site. Ads placed on social media tar­get­ed all adults liv­ing in Seat­tle. Those who indi­cat­ed that they were not reg­is­tered to vote were terminated.
  • As the sur­vey field­ed, Change used dynam­ic online sam­pling: adjust­ing ad bud­gets, low­er­ing bud­gets for ads tar­get­ing groups that were over­rep­re­sent­ed and rais­ing bud­gets for ads tar­get­ing groups that were under­rep­re­sent­ed, so that the final sam­ple was rough­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the pop­u­la­tion across dif­fer­ent groups.
  • The sur­vey was con­duct­ed in Eng­lish, and has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.1% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

Addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion about the method­ol­o­gy is avail­able here. Final­ly, if you missed it, be sure to read this Q&A with Change Research’s Ben Green­field about how to read assess the gen­er­al elec­tion poll find­ings that we released.

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