NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, November 8th, 2022

Steve Hobbs leads Julie Anderson for Secretary of State, write-in vote totals 3%+

Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sec­re­tary of State Steve Hobbs is ahead in his cam­paign to be retained as Wash­ing­ton’s chief elec­tions offi­cer and cus­to­di­an of records.

In Elec­tion Night returns, Hobbs had 49.97% — just shy of the mag­ic num­ber of fifty — while chal­lenger Julie Ander­son, the Pierce Coun­ty Audi­tor, had 46.92%. Anoth­er 3.1% of votes cast were for a write-in can­di­date, pre­sum­ably Repub­li­can Brad Klip­pert, who was endorsed by the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Party.

Hobbs is a Demo­c­rat, while Ander­son ran with­out affil­i­at­ing with a party.

Hobbs cur­rent­ly holds a 50,938 vote lead over Ander­son statewide.

That’s few­er than the num­ber of write-in votes, which total 51,821. If Ander­son had the sup­port of those write-in vot­ers (again, pre­sum­ably ultra MAGA Repub­li­cans), she’d actu­al­ly be ahead of Hobbs by the slimmest of margins.

This is exact­ly the sce­nario that our polling sug­gest­ed could play out last month.

When we researched the con­test, we found Hobbs and Ander­son tied, with Ander­son hold­ing a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly insignif­i­cant one-point advantage.

How­ev­er, Ander­son­’s lead col­lapsed in a fol­low-up ques­tion once respon­dents were informed of the write-in can­di­da­cy of Klip­pert and gained the option of say­ing that they’d vote for him if they were cast­ing their ballot.

“Hobbs’ base of sup­port looks rather sol­id, while Anderson’s coali­tion looks awful­ly shaky,” I wrote last month. “To win this con­test, Ander­son needs Repub­li­can and inde­pen­dent vot­ers behind her, since Wash­ing­ton is a Demo­c­ra­t­ic lean­ing state and most Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers are back­ing Hobbs along with many independents.”

One pas­sage lat­er, I added:

“If even a small per­cent­age of Repub­li­can vot­ers choose Klip­pert over Ander­son, her path to vic­to­ry could van­ish, putting the kibosh on Anderson’s chances.”

In 2020, we saw a jaw-drop­ping 20% of Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers choose a write-in can­di­date for Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor, dis­sat­is­fied with the choice of two Democ­rats list­ed on the bal­lot. That hap­pened in part because Joshua Freed spent a sig­nif­i­cant amount of mon­ey to reach Repub­li­can vot­ers and make them aware that they had the option of writ­ing him in rather than vot­ing for a Democrat.

Klip­pert did­n’t have those kind of resources for his “Write-in Klip­pert” cam­paign this year. But he did­n’t need to get any­where near 20% to be a fac­tor in this con­test. With Hobbs and Ander­son seem­ing­ly tied, and with Ander­son very depen­dent on Repub­li­can sup­port to be com­pet­i­tive against Hobbs, any num­ber of votes siphoned away from Ander­son had the poten­tial to be a difference-maker.

In a num­ber of coun­ties east of the Cas­cades, the write-in vote is in the dou­ble dig­its. In Stevens, it’s 10.91%. In Franklin, it’s 10.64%. In Fer­ry, it’s 11.92%.

Those are lit­tle coun­ties, but when you add them all up, it’s tens of thou­sands of votes. The write-in vote was also greater than the statewide per­cent­age in some of the larg­er east­ern coun­ties such as Spokane, Ben­ton, and Chelan.

Hobbs is win­ning a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of swing coun­ties in addi­tion to the usu­al three Demo­c­ra­t­ic strong­holds, which is a promis­ing sign for him.

Ander­son has more coun­ties over­all, but most of the coun­ties in her col­umn are pret­ty small. The major excep­tion is Pierce Coun­ty, where Ander­son is from.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Hobbs coun­tiesAnder­son counties 
Sno­homishGrays Har­borKlick­i­tat
San JuanWahki­akumBen­ton
ThurstonChelanWal­la Walla
Pend OreilleGarfield

An esti­mat­ed 634,848 bal­lots are on hand and await­ing pro­cess­ing statewide, accord­ing to the Sec­re­tary of State’s vot­er turnout chart. Most of them are from coun­ties that Hobbs is win­ning: 152,000 in King, 80,000 in Clark, 55,000 in Kit­sap, 78,500 from Sno­homish, 30,000 from Thurston, 25,500 from Whatcom.

That’s a prob­lem for Anderson.

Ander­son­’s own office reports that only 10,689 bal­lots are await­ing pro­cess­ing in Pierce Coun­ty. If that’s an accu­rate num­ber, it is a rather small fig­ure com­pared to the num­ber of bal­lots present­ly out­stand­ing in King and Snohomish.

Pierce’s turnout cur­rent­ly sits at 41.47%, high­er than King’s turnout and Sno­homish’s turnout, at least until their addi­tion­al bal­lots are counted.

King, Pierce, Sno­homish, and sev­er­al oth­er coun­ties are all due to release an updat­ed tab­u­la­tion tomor­row at around either 4 or 5 PM in the evening. We’ll be keep­ing a close eye on this con­test until cer­ti­fi­ca­tion on Novem­ber 28th.

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