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.

Evolution of results in Washington's 2012 gubernatorial race
A chart show­ing the evo­lu­tion of results in Wash­ing­ton’s 2012 guber­na­to­r­i­al race. Jay Inslee has main­tained a lead over Rob McKen­na since late on Elec­tion Night.

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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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