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.
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 counties||Anderson counties|
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.