Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Not much changing in the battle for WA-08

After two more days of updates, Darcy Burner still trails Dave Reichert by a few thousand votes. The new difference between the two candidates is 3,514 after today's report from King County.

Analysis indicates that most of the recent batches tabulated are coming from the southeastern part of King County, which is an area that was projected to vote more strongly for Reichert. Pierce County has not released any new figures since Thursday and won't until next Monday.

Within King County Darcy has remained ahead. She has 81,593 votes to Reichert's 80,949. King County Elections tabulated 38,228 absentees today, bringing the total number of tabulated ballots to 318,964 thus far.

179,565 ballots from polling places have been tabulated so far. This total does not include provisional ballots.

While not much is changing - the gap has widened and narrowed slightly - there's no telling what will happen next. The old saying, "it's not over until it's over" certainly applies here.

Anyone has grounds to make the case for their viewpoint. Reichert supporters can justifiably say they're optimistic. So can we. That doesn't mean Republicans will end up victorious , nor does it mean Democrats will. We just don't know.

The situation has remained tight - just like it was six years ago when the outcome of a close race between Senator Maria Cantwell and Republican Slade Gorton was unknown for months. In fact this race is eerily similar.

On November 15th, 2000, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a 757 word article from reporters Joel Connelly and Lise Olsen which began this way:
The reporting of 96,000 absentee votes in King County yesterday allowed Democrat Maria Cantwell to wipe out much of an 18,000-vote lead by GOP Sen. Slade Gorton in the country's last undecided U.S. Senate race.

But late returns from his small town and rural base in Yakima, Skagit, Kittitas and Klickitat counties kept Gorton in front by about 3,300 votes.

Cantwell and Gorton are intense baseball fans, and last night it seemed that their race wouldn't be decided until the bottom half of the ninth inning.

A week after the election, about 186,000 ballots have yet to be counted, and valid absentee votes are still arriving at county election offices.
And as we all know, even though Gorton was ahead for days in the returns after Election Day, Maria Cantwell eventually prevailed and become Washington's junior U.S. Senator.

Even a week later - after the publication of the article I just excerpted - the conventional wisdom was that Gorton was going to make it through the election and return to the U.S. Senate. On November 21st, 2000, the P-I ran this headline at the top of another article by Joel Connelly and Lise Olsen:
Shift in Gorton base may give him victory; Republican winning in Magnuson Country
[Excerpt]: Gorton has steadily built a power base in other parts of the state. Six counties that originally went for Magnuson in 1980 are now backing the man who beat him: Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Kitsap, Pacific, Skamania and Wahkiakum.

Final returns aren't due until tomorrow, and the tiny margin separating Gorton and Cantwell guarantees an automatic recount. "It's not over yet," Cynthia Bergman, a Gorton aide, cautioned yesterday.

Gorton's lead shrank to less than 1,300 votes yesterday, as Cantwell unexpectedly picked up support in Whatcom County. Although Gorton is still favored to win a fourth term, Cantwell "is back in the race," said her press secretary, Ellis Conklin.
Cantwell was indeed back in the race, and she emerged as the victor. The same thing happened to Christine Gregoire - she was behind early but at the end it was apparent that she had won - though the Rossi camp disagreed and persisted in challenging the election, to no avail.

Nobody really likes waiting and not knowing what the outcome is. But it's important for democracy's sake that King County Elections and the Pierce County Auditor count every legitimately cast ballot as carefully as possible.

We've set ourselves up for situations like this with our state law which says voters have until Election Day to get their ballots in the mail. That almost guarantees a drawn out period of waiting in any close race. Some would argue that law should be changed and others would argue against changing it.

But for now it's irrelevant. We'll keep waiting and watching to see what happens - and not jump to any conclusions.

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