The second week of ballot counting is underway in Washington’s 2017 Top Two election, and with today’s drop, the good news continues for Manka Dhingra and the Democratic Party. Dhingra today achieved the symbolic threshold of a double digit lead over Republican opponent Jinyoung Englund, once again widening her lead in what has become the district’s most lopsided Senate race in years.
Pundits and political observers had been expecting a close contest, with a narrow win possible by either side. But this result is basically the opposite of that.
With today’s count in, Dhingra has 19,545 votes (51.49%); Englund has 15,745 votes (41.48%). The gap between Dhingra and Englund is now 3,800 votes.
Dhingra’s lead in this election is bigger than any that have been held by either Andy Hill or his predecessor over the past eleven years. Take a look:
- 2014 General Election, 45th LD Senate (Difference: 2,660 votes)
- Andy Hill (R): 25,816 votes
- Matt Isenhower (D): 23,156 votes
- 2010 General Election, 45th LD Senate (Difference: 1,124 votes)
- Andy Hill (R): 29,606 votes
- Eric Oemig (D): 28,482 votes
- 2006 General Election, 45th LD Senate (Difference: 2,780 votes)
- Eric Oemig (D): 25,027 votes
- Toby Nixon (R): 22,247 votes
Republicans seem utterly bewildered that the $642,636.19 they sunk into ads smearing Manka Dhingra have failed to bolster Englund’s candidacy. Not only did Englund begin Election Night in a big hole, but that hole has gotten deeper… and deeper… and deeper… which isn’t what they were expecting.
With nothing but bad news coming out of the 45th LD, the state Republican Party has opted to ignore the election results and instead focus on other (mostly trivial) things. The party did post a tweet the day after the election which read:
Thank you to our hardworking canvassers Dio, Brendan, Joe, and Austin. They’re making canvassing great again!
More like the Democrats are making canvassing great again. The Dhingra campaign has truly demonstrated a mastery of field operations in this election. As a consequence, the party is an excellent position heading into the general election, and will benefit from high morale and enthusiasm down the home stretch.
I can’t remember a legislative contest in which a candidate down by as much as Englund is in this election came back to win in the general. (Readers, if you know of an example, please mention it in the comments.) Top Two performance does not precisely predict general election performance, but there is a correlation.
A reprise of what we’re seeing now in the general election would mean more than just a change in who runs the Senate. For decades, the Eastside of King County has been a political battleground, where legislative majorities have been made and unmade. But increasingly, the Eastside is becoming Democratic territory.
Two of the region’s four core legislative districts are now all-Democratic (the 41st and the 48th). The 45th is weeks away from potentially joining them. And next year, Democrats will have a fresh opportunity to make inroads in the 5th when House positions held by Republicans Jay Rodne and Paul Graves are up.