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 7th, 2012

Secretary of State contest very close: Democrat Kathleen Drew trails, but could reclaim lead by end of the week

Over the last few days, I’ve heard sev­er­al peo­ple pre­dict that Wash­ing­ton’s 2012 guber­na­to­r­i­al race would like­ly be as tight as the 2004 con­test between Chris Gre­goire and Dino Rossi, which dragged on for weeks as bal­lots were count­ed and recount­ed. It does­n’t look like that will be the case; Jay Inslee has a lead of 50,209 votes as of this morn­ing, and we think his lead is only going to grow larg­er.

But there is anoth­er statewide race that’s very close.

Demo­c­rat Kath­leen Drew and Repub­li­can Kim Wyman are each vying to suc­ceed Sam Reed as Sec­re­tary of State (the state’s chief elec­tions offi­cer) and they each have rough­ly half of the vote as of this morn­ing. Wyman took the lead mid­way through the evening last night and has­n’t relin­quished it, but she does­n’t have much of an edge: Drew is only 14,243 votes behind her.

We project that with­in the next few days, Drew will catch up with Wyman and then go on to reclaim the lead. 

What’s the basis for this pro­jec­tion? It’s sim­ple, real­ly. If you look at the coun­ty-by-coun­ty break­down, you can see that Drew is win­ning in some cru­cial swing coun­ties, espe­cial­ly Sno­homish and What­com — but also Jef­fer­son, Grays Har­bor, and Pacif­ic. She’s not win­ning by much in any of those places, but she is ahead, and that mat­ters a great deal… because in vote-rich King Coun­ty, she’s crush­ing Wyman.

As reg­u­lar read­ers of The Advo­cate know, I often say that statewide races are not won or lost in King Coun­ty. They are decid­ed in the all-impor­tant swing coun­ties, where much of the state’s pop­u­la­tion resides.

Some­times, the swing coun­ties are uni­form­ly aligned against King Coun­ty, and when that hap­pens, King Coun­ty gets out­vot­ed. But when the swing coun­ties are divid­ed, as is the case in this race, King Coun­ty often gets to decide who wins.

We saw this dynam­ic at work four years ago in the race for Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands. Demo­c­rat Peter Gold­mark eked out a vic­to­ry over Repub­li­can Doug Suther­land pri­mar­i­ly by win­ning Sno­homish, Jef­fer­son, and What­com. Gold­mark lost many of the same swing coun­ties Drew is cur­rent­ly los­ing to Wyman. But it did­n’t mat­ter. He did well enough in north Puget Sound to allow King Coun­ty vot­ers to decide the race. Suther­land was kicked out of office and Gold­mark took over.

Gold­mark’s per­cent­age of the vote in 2008 in King Coun­ty close­ly cor­re­lates with Drew’s per­cent­age of the vote in King this year (61.88% vs. 61.71%).

If Drew can pro­tect her lead in the five swing coun­ties she’s cur­rent­ly got, King can put her over the top. That’s our fore­cast.

Wyman, of course, can’t be count­ed out. She is doing well in her home coun­ty of Thurston, and she has decent-sized leads in impor­tant swing coun­ties like Pierce and Spokane. She also has com­mand­ing leads through­out east­ern Wash­ing­ton. But in oth­er swing coun­ties, her lead is not so impres­sive.

In Kit­sap, she’s only sev­en hun­dred and sev­en­ty-nine votes ahead of Drew. In Cowlitz, she is only ahead by five hun­dred and fifty-sev­en votes.

Drew has com­pet­ed well enough out­side of King Coun­ty to win this race, Gold­mark-style. And we think she can do it.

If she pulls it off, she will become the first Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sec­re­tary of State in more than fifty years. And Democ­rats would hold all ten statewide posi­tions for which par­ty affil­i­a­tion is list­ed on the bal­lot: gov­er­nor, lieu­tenant gov­er­nor, sec­re­tary of state, trea­sur­er, audi­tor, lands com­mis­sion­er, insur­ance com­mis­sion­er, attor­ney gen­er­al, and the state’s ten U.S. Sen­ate seats.

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3 Comments

  1. After Weds night’s drop, you still think Drew can win? She’s now 25k behind. Not sure how much what King drop in com­par­i­son to the oth­er coun­ties and what they have left fac­tors in…

    Can you do a pre­dic­tive analy­sis based on the lat­est info?

    # by Mark :: November 7th, 2012 at 9:09 PM
    • Hi Mark, thanks for stop­ping by. Yes, we still think Drew can win. It’s true that she fell fur­ther behind Kim Wyman today. Wyman’s lead has widened by around ten thou­sand votes. How­ev­er, King Coun­ty (Drew’s strong­hold) did not count very many bal­lots today. Yes­ter­day, K.C. Elec­tions report­ed that it had count­ed 556,083 bal­lots. Today, that num­ber only got up to 609,611. That means only 53,528 bal­lots got count­ed today.

      King Coun­ty has 232,000 bal­lots on hand that have been ver­i­fied, but remain to be count­ed. In addi­tion, the coun­ty just report­ed that it received anoth­er 147,744 bal­lots in the mail today (and there are like­ly to be thou­sands more bal­lots arriv­ing tomor­row and Fri­day). These 147,744 bal­lots will be put into the hop­per for tab­u­la­tion (so to speak) once they are ver­i­fied. That means there are at least 375,000 bal­lots await­ing to be count­ed. If Drew gets six­ty per­cent of those, that’s 225,000 votes.

      Sno­homish has around 100,000 bal­lots on hand wait­ing to be count­ed, and What­com 25,000. Drew is win­ning in those coun­ties too.

      So as the days go by, we expect Wyman’s lead to start shrink­ing. That said, Wyman is ahead in a few impor­tant coun­ties that also have plen­ty of bal­lots left to count — Spokane, Clark, and Pierce. So if her lead does shrink as we project, it will most like­ly hap­pen bit by bit.

      # by Andrew :: November 7th, 2012 at 10:25 PM
  2. Con­cede, game over!

    # by Floyd :: November 8th, 2012 at 4:10 PM