Today is the third “day after” the 2012 general election. Ballot counting continues in most of Washington’s thirty-nine counties, as county elections officials open mail, verify signatures, and tabulate votes. In the meantime, the outcome of several races remains uncertain (particularly the contest for Secretary of State).
The gubernatorial race is not as close as many pundits had expected it to be. Still, Rob McKenna is refusing to concede. His team is holding out hope that he will overcome Jay Inslee’s lead to become Washington’s next governor. McKenna’s camp entered Election Night seemingly prepared for a long haul.
Randy Pepple, McKenna’s campaign manager, even went to the trouble of releasing a memo to “interested parties” outlining what to expect on Election Night. This memo has since been published on McKenna’s campaign website.
In it, Pepple writes:
Given the apparent advantage among early voters, and the trend from our own tracking surveys which showed that advantage reversed by the end of last week, the McKenna campaign thinks it both likely that the returns counted on election night will favor Congressman Inslee, and that the final vote tally will ultimately be in McKenna’s favor. Once again it appears that election night in Washington State will not produce a definitive winner in our marquee statewide contest.
We can see from looking at the graph below why McKenna’s camp believes there is reason for optimism: Since Election Night, McKenna has been chipping away at Inslee’s percentage of the total vote. That trend may continue today.
But he is still more than fifty thousand votes behind Inslee, and we just don’t see him making up the difference. More than three quarters of a million ballots remain to be counted statewide, so a McKenna victory is still within the realm of possibility. However, a very large chunk of those ballots are King County ballots. And McKenna is getting trounced in heavily Democratic King County.
Inslee’s percentage of the vote in King County has not changed too much.
On Election Night, it was 63.01%. On Wednesday, it declined slightly to 62.69%. And yesterday, it stood at 62.16%.
Inslee may be losing ground percentage-wise, but he isn’t losing much. And there’s no guarantee the current trend (which favors McKenna) is going to continue. Even if it does, the data we have so far indicates Inslee will still be ahead a few days from now, when the pool of outstanding ballots has substantially dwindled.
McKenna needs to get above the forty percent mark in King County to have a chance of winning this race. If he doesn’t make up significant ground today, it will be a clear sign that the McKenna camp’s faith in a comeback is misplaced.
Team Inslee, in partnership with the Washington State Democrats, released a memo of their own today which asserts that Jay will hold onto his lead.
Consistent with projections following Election Night returns, analysis of updated results continues to indicate a near certain win for Inslee. With over 75% of all expected ballots counted, the Inslee lead has expanded to more than 56,000 votes statewide, further diminishing the mathematical probability of an outcome in McKenna’s favor.
Of the ballots remaining to be counted, 51.45% reside in King, Thurston, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties where Inslee is currently receiving 58.23% of the votes to McKenna’s 41.77%. Conversely, only 12.01% of remaining ballots reside in counties from which the majority of the McKenna statewide vote total is derived — Benton, Clark, Spokane, and Yakima. In these counties McKenna is currently only receiving 57.08% of votes to Inslee’s 42.92%. Thus, following the historic trend of Democratic gains beyond Election Day, the Inslee advantage will continue to increase as the remaining ballots are counted.
We concur with this analysis.
If Rob McKenna’s campaign is willing to share the models or simulations they’re using to project an eventual McKenna victory, we’d be happy to take a look at what they have. But our suspicion is they’ll keep all of that private.