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.

Monday, November 9th, 2020

Adam Smith: Trump’s “childish” firing of Mark Esper will embolden America’s adversaries

The “ter­mi­na­tion” of U.S. Defense Sec­re­tary Mark Esper, announced in a Tweet by Pres­i­dent Trump, is a “child­ish” act that will embold­en America’s adver­saries dur­ing a time of pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion, in words of U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam Smith, D‑Wash., chair­man of the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Committee.

Smith has warned about the politi­ciz­ing of the Pen­ta­gon, which he has described as one branch of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment that has stood apart from revolv­ing appoint­ments of offi­cials ter­ri­fied of anger­ing the President.

“Dis­miss­ing polit­i­cal­ly appoint­ed nation­al secu­ri­ty lead­ers dur­ing a tran­si­tion is a desta­bi­liz­ing move that will only embold­en our adver­saries and put our coun­try at greater risk,” Smith said in a state­ment after Trump’s abrupt post-elec­tion action.

“Pres­i­dent Trump’s deci­sion to fire Sec­re­tary Esper out of spite is not just child­ish, but it’s also reck­less. It has long been clear that Pres­i­dent Trump cares about loy­al­ty above all else, often at the expense of com­pe­tence, and dur­ing a peri­od of pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion, com­pe­tence in gov­ern­ment is of the utmost importance.”

Esper had pre­pared a let­ter of res­ig­na­tion. But a vin­dic­tive Trump has made fir­ing by tweet a hall­mark of his gov­ern­ing style. The Defense Sec­re­tary incurred the incum­ben­t’s ire by announc­ing in June he would not deploy active-duty troops to Amer­i­can cities. Trump had float­ed use of the Insur­rec­tion Act to quell civ­il unrest.

Esper angered Trump again by mov­ing to ban dis­plays of Con­fed­er­ate flags at mil­i­tary instal­la­tions. Trump has defend­ed the nam­ing of major mil­i­tary instal­la­tions for such fig­ures as Con­fed­er­ate Gen­er­als Brax­ton Bragg and John Bell Hood. Both were major “losers” in the Civ­il War.

Esper is being replaced by Christo­pher Miller, direc­tor of the Nation­al Coun­tert­er­ror­ism Cen­ter, who will serve as act­ing defense sec­re­tary dur­ing the remain­ing sev­en­ty days of the Trump administration.

The jobs of two oth­er nation­al secu­ri­ty pro­fes­sion­als, CIA Direc­tor Gina Haspel and FBI Direc­tor Christo­pher Wray, are report­ed­ly also in jeopardy.

A sec­ond senior North­west law­mak­er, Sen­a­tor Ron Wyden, D‑Oregon, crit­i­cized the Esper fir­ing and Miller hir­ing. Said Wyden: “Don­ald Trump fired some­one who wouldn’t order U.S. troops to attack peace­ful pro­test­ers and is replac­ing him with some­one he may think will car­ry out those orders.

“I opposed Chris Miller’s nom­i­na­tion ear­li­er this year, because he refused to promise that intel­li­gence agen­cies wouldn’t tar­get Amer­i­cans based on their polit­i­cal views. He should remem­ber that any­one who car­ries out an ille­gal order from Don­ald Trump will be held ful­ly account­able under the law.”

Mark Esper

Defense Sec­re­tary Dr. Mark T. Esper is inter­viewed remote­ly by Norah O’Donnell of CBS Evening News, about the DoD response to COVID-19, at the Pen­ta­gon, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., March 31, 2020. (DoD pho­to by Lisa Ferdinando)

Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi warned, in a state­ment, that the tim­ing of Esper’s ter­mi­na­tion “rais­es seri­ous ques­tions about Trump’s planned actions for the final days of his Administration.”

The ter­mi­na­tion of Esper “is dis­turb­ing evi­dence that Pres­i­dent Trump is intent on using his final days in office to sow chaos in our Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy and around the world.”

Sen­a­tor Jack Reed, D‑Rhode Island, the rank­ing Demo­c­rat on the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, added: “Fir­ing of the Sec­re­tary of Defense in the wan­ing weeks of the Admin­is­tra­tion under­mines nation­al secu­ri­ty at a crit­i­cal moment.”

Adam Smith heads one of Con­gress’ most col­le­gial committees.

He has been more out­spo­ken of late, par­tic­u­lar­ly after the fir­ing of Capt. Brett Crozi­er of the car­ri­er U.S.S. Theodore Roo­sevelt, removed from his job for plead­ing for Pen­ta­gon help with a coro­n­avirus out­break on his ship.

Crozi­er was “thrown over­board” in a move that will have “a chill­ing effect” on truth-telling in the armed forces, Smith declared at the time. “Dis­miss­ing a com­mand­ing offi­cer for speak­ing out on issues crit­i­cal to the safe­ty of those under their com­mand dis­cour­ages oth­ers from rais­ing sim­i­lar con­cerns,” he warned.

When more than one hun­dred crew mem­bers con­tract­ed the pan­dem­ic, Crozi­er told the Pen­ta­gon, “Keep­ing over 4,000 young men and women on board the Theodore Roo­sevelt is an unnec­es­sary risk and breaks faith those sailors entrust­ed to our care. We are not at war. Sol­diers do not need to die.”

The fir­ing was proof that Trump chaos had arrived at the Pentagon.

Crozi­er was fired by act­ing Navy Sec­re­tary Thomas Mod­ly, who said the cap­tain “demon­strat­ed extreme­ly poor judg­ment.” Mod­ly was forced to resign after he flew to Guam, board­ed the car­ri­er and made deroga­to­ry remarks about Crozier.

Monday, November 9th, 2020

What’s next for the Republicans following Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s defeat?

The death knell of Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­cy start­ed sound­ing in the ear­ly hours of Novem­ber 6th, as Joe Biden over­took him in Penn­syl­va­nia and Georgia.

As the fall­out of the 2020 elec­tion becomes ever more clear, many are ques­tion­ing what is next for the Repub­li­can Par­ty itself. Will they be able to shake off the specter of Trump­ism and piv­ot to some ver­sion of polit­i­cal normality?

Or will they con­tin­ue to orbit the malig­nant influ­ence of Trump, per­haps even degen­er­at­ing into some­thing worse? These ques­tions will like­ly be answered in the next qua­dren­ni­al elec­tion cycle, when the Repub­li­cans will have to choose a new fig­ure­head. Which can­di­dates will be able to win over the party?

A return to convention? 

Even before Novem­ber 3rd, there were signs that some mem­bers of the Repub­li­can Par­ty were chaf­ing under Trump’s yoke – signs which mul­ti­plied as it became clear­er that he would lose. As Trump made increas­ing­ly out­ra­geous claims (includ­ing as the votes were being count­ed), major fig­ures in the par­ty – includ­ing top Sen­ate Repub­li­can Mitch McConnell – pushed back against his rhetoric and tried to restore con­fi­dence in the vot­ing process.

This push­back – rem­i­nis­cent of the “nev­er-trumper” wing of the Repub­li­can Par­ty that Trump has large­ly intim­i­dat­ed into silence over the past four years – could be the start of a revival for a more tra­di­tion­al form of Repub­li­can politics.

If this wing of the par­ty were to gain trac­tion, there are a num­ber of high-rank­ing fig­ures that could take advan­tage of any back­lash against Trumpism.

The most august of these indi­vid­u­als is, with­out doubt, Sen­a­tor Mitt Romney.

Rom­ney, who rep­re­sents Utah, has already head­ed the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s tick­et once before, los­ing to Barack Oba­ma in 2012.

He has spent his time as a U.S. sen­a­tor open­ly offer­ing a con­trast to Trump’s vision of Repub­li­can­ism, most notably when he became the only sen­a­tor in Unit­ed States his­to­ry to vote to con­vict a pres­i­dent from his own par­ty. It’s rare for a los­ing can­di­date to make a come­back, but it has hap­pened before – Richard Nixon lost to John F. Kennedy in 1960, only to win the pres­i­den­cy eight years later.

Ben Sasse has harshly criticized Donald Trump

Ben Sasse has harsh­ly crit­i­cized Don­ald Trump (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Mitt Romney’s age (he will be sev­en­ty-sev­en in 2024) makes it unlike­ly he will run, but there are a vari­ety of younger can­di­dates who fit his polit­i­cal mold. Sen­a­tor Ben Sasse of Nebras­ka has crit­i­cized Trump since the lat­ter won the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion in 2016 (although he votes for Trump’s agen­da almost all the time). In recent weeks, he has ramped up his attacks on the Pres­i­dent, call­ing him a “TV-obsessed, nar­cis­sis­tic indi­vid­ual” in a meet­ing with his constituents.

Aside from Trump’s direct crit­ics, there are also a good num­ber of Repub­li­cans who have kept their heads down for the past cou­ple of years, but hold more mod­er­ate views than the president.

Expect fig­ures like South Car­oli­na Sen­a­tor Tim Scott (who turned heads with his RNC speech), Flori­da Sen­a­tor Mar­co Rubio, and former‑U.N. Ambas­sador Nik­ki Haley to start test­ing the waters for a future White House bid.

Nikki Haley is one of the most high-profile women in Republican politics

Nik­ki Haley is one of the most high-pro­file women in Repub­li­can pol­i­tics (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Trumpworld

Of course, there is no guar­an­tee of a return to any­thing like “busi­ness as usual.”

Trump is, after all, not an aber­ra­tion but a symp­tom of a deep-root­ed dis­ease in his par­ty (and the nation as a whole). What’s more, Trump has repeat­ed­ly sig­naled his inten­tion to remain a polit­i­cal influ­encer even if he is oust­ed from the White House and the Repub­li­can Par­ty is in no posi­tion to resist his malign influ­ence. Indeed, there has already been spec­u­la­tion that Trump may mobi­lize his per­son­al­i­ty cult to re-nom­i­nate him for the pres­i­den­cy in 2024.

I think that event is unlike­ly, espe­cial­ly once Trump real­izes that he doesn’t need the trap­pings of the Oval Office to sway large swathes of the Repub­li­can Par­ty, why go to the both­er of cam­paign­ing, when you can remote­ly sway a nom­i­na­tion from the com­fort of a Mar-a-Lago suite?

Instead, expect an ex-pres­i­dent Trump to inces­sant­ly tweet and call Fox anchors like Sean Han­ni­ty, try­ing to boost who­ev­er his pre­ferred crony hap­pens to be.

If you thought the spec­ta­cle of peo­ple pros­trat­ing them­selves before Trump has been bad before now, expect it to get much worse in the com­ing four years.

Fig­ures like Mike Pence, Geor­gia Gov­er­nor Bri­an Kemp, and Flori­da Gov­er­nor Ron DeSan­tis rode Trump’s coat­tails into pow­er – their polit­i­cal ambi­tions will rely on pan­der­ing to a retiree’s whims every day for the next four years.

Speculation is rife that Don Jr. will take up his father's mantle

Spec­u­la­tion is rife that Don Jr. will take up his father’s man­tle (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced by Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Repub­li­cans may even decide to keep it in the fam­i­ly – both Ivan­ka Trump and Don­ald Trump Jr. have been tout­ed as poten­tial future contenders.

Although Ivanka’s lifestyle and mar­riage could turn off a large part of the elder Trump’s rad­i­cal­ized base, Don­ald Jr. has become a Repub­li­can star in his own right, becom­ing the party’s most sought-after sur­ro­gate in the 2020 election.

Can it get worse? Oh yes…

It’s tempt­ing to think that Don­ald Trump rep­re­sents the nadir of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, but unfor­tu­nate­ly, things can get much worse. Don­ald Trump’s poli­cies are mon­strous and his opin­ions are hideous. For­tu­nate­ly, his agen­da over the last four years has large­ly been stymied by his circle’s ram­pant cor­rup­tion and his own total incom­pe­tence in using the machin­ery of government.

In ‘Homage to Cat­alo­nia,’ a mem­oir of the Span­ish Civ­il War, George Orwell reflects that although the fas­cists might win the war (they ulti­mate­ly did), life would not be as unen­durable in Spain as in oth­er fas­cist coun­tries because of the lais­sez-faire, sies­ta-lov­ing Span­ish way of life.

Don­ald Trump can per­haps be com­pared to the author­i­tar­i­ans who ruled Spain from the 1930s – mon­strous and big­ot­ed, yes, but too cor­rupt and lazy to pur­sue his aims to their log­i­cal con­clu­sion. What hap­pens when a can­di­date comes along with Trump’s ideas, and a Ger­man sense of efficiency?

In the words of New York Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, “do you know how many Trumps there are in waiting?”

Mis­souri Sen­a­tor Josh Haw­ley has already embraced Trump’s brand of faux pop­ulism: rail­ing against coastal elites, despite hav­ing risen to pow­er through Har­vard, Yale and a D.C. law firm; lam­bast­ing big tech com­pa­nies for a “busi­ness mod­el of addic­tion,” while boost­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that rely on social media to thrive; and por­tray­ing him­self as an eco­nom­ic pop­ulist while destroy­ing labor unions and oppos­ing min­i­mum wage raises.

Dan Crenshaw is an idol to young conservatives

Dan Cren­shaw is an idol to young con­ser­v­a­tives (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Mean­while, in Texas, a for­mer Navy SEAL has gar­nered a rep­u­ta­tion as Repub­li­cans’ “best answer to AOC,” due to his youth, out­spo­ken style, and pirat­i­cal charis­ma. With half a mil­lion fol­low­ers, Dan Cren­shaw is the most pop­u­lar House Repub­li­can on Twit­ter, and like both AOC and Don­ald Trump he used a savvy approach to social media to out­play his own party’s establishment.

How­ev­er, the com­par­isons to AOC and pro­gres­sives stop there.

Cren­shaw has spent much of 2020 throw­ing doubt on the sci­ence of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, he sup­ports slash­ing Social Secu­ri­ty and Med­ic­aid, and wants to keep troops in Afghanistan indef­i­nite­ly.

The most dan­ger­ous of these can­di­dates, how­ev­er, is undoubt­ed­ly Tom Cot­ton.

Cot­ton is one of Arkansas’ two Unit­ed States Senators.

His calm tem­pera­ment and rel­a­tive­ly steady climb of the polit­i­cal lad­der give him a veneer of respectabil­i­ty, and cred­i­bil­i­ty with the big-mon­ey donors who pow­er Repub­li­can pol­i­tics (many of whom nev­er warmed to Trump’s brash style).

Tom Cotton speaks to New Hampshire Republicans in 2016

Tom Cot­ton speaks to New Hamp­shire Repub­li­cans in 2016 (Pho­to: Michael Vadon, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

How­ev­er he is, if any­thing, even more extreme than Don­ald Trump.

Cotton’s rise to fame in con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles has been punc­tu­at­ed by a series of nau­se­at­ing let­ters. When he was serv­ing as a sol­dier in Iraq in 2006, he wrote a let­ter call­ing for New York Times war cor­re­spon­dents to be jailed for inves­ti­gat­ing secre­tive gov­ern­ment programs.

In 2015, as a fresh­man sen­a­tor, he led the Repub­li­cans in upend­ing the norms of for­eign pol­i­cy by author­ing a let­ter to the lead­ers of Iran.

Ignor­ing the exec­u­tive branch’s author­i­ty over for­eign affairs (and arguably break­ing the law in the process), Cotton’s let­ter tried to tear down years of sen­si­tive nego­ti­a­tions between the U.S. and Iran by threat­en­ing Iran­ian lead­ers and promis­ing to renege on any deal made.

Trump lat­er fol­lowed Cotton’s advice, and aban­doned the JCPOA.

Cot­ton has also writ­ten op-eds call­ing civ­il rights activists “race-hus­tling char­la­tans,” described slav­ery as a “nec­es­sary evil,” and called the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter a “polit­i­cal hate group.”

His most famous let­ter of all, though, has to be his New York Times op-ed call­ing for mil­i­tary force against peace­ful pro­test­ers – a threat so dis­turb­ing that it led to a pub­lic apol­o­gy and he res­ig­na­tion of the NYT’s Opin­ion Edi­tor. Cot­ton nev­er apol­o­gized, and his cam­paign fundrais­ing report­ed­ly quin­tu­pled after the article.

Cot­ton hasn’t just made emp­ty threats, but has used his posi­tion of pow­er to active­ly car­ry out cru­el­ty. In 2015, Cot­ton blocked the nom­i­na­tion of an African-Amer­i­can nom­i­nee for an ambas­sador­ship, telling the nom­i­nee that he saw it as “a way to inflict spe­cial pain” on the first Black president.

Cot­ton has also led Repub­li­can efforts to crush immi­gra­tion reform and restrict entry for refugees. Cotton’s record of bad votes spans from hyp­o­crit­i­cal (as when he vot­ed against the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment giv­ing stu­dent loans, despite ben­e­fit­ing from the pro­gram him­self) to down­right depraved (as when he refused to re-autho­rize the Vio­lence Against Women Act).

Joe Biden’s vic­to­ry on Novem­ber 6th was con­vinc­ing, but far from a land­slide. Democ­rats have lit­tle room for error as they try to res­cue the coun­try from the incred­i­ble dam­age wrought by Don­ald Trump’s regime. There are plen­ty of Trump fans itch­ing for the chance to pick up from where Don­ald will leave off.

Sunday, November 8th, 2020

America’s allies in the world community joyfully welcome historic Biden-Harris victory

Neigh­bors, friends and recent­ly alien­at­ed allies of the Unit­ed States react­ed with bare­ly con­cealed relief to Joe Biden’s pres­i­den­tial win, hope for coop­er­a­tion on cli­mate change and pan­dem­ic recov­ery, plus shout-outs to Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Kamala Harris.

Don­ald Trump went with­out men­tion, even by such Trump allies as India’s Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and Britain’s PM Boris Johnson.

“Wel­come back Amer­i­ca!,” said Paris May­or Anne Hidal­go.

British Columbia’s Pre­mier John Hor­gan became a hawk on bor­der clos­ing after wit­ness­ing the Trump Administration’s ini­tial fum­bling of COVID-19 response.

On Sat­ur­day, he extend­ed con­grat­u­la­tions with a let’s‑get-going empha­sis to both Biden and Har­ris.

“The Unit­ed States is a close friend and part­ner of British Colum­bia and we have tak­en impor­tant steps togeth­er with our neigh­bor to fight cli­mate change, grow the inno­va­tion econ­o­my and build a more sus­tain­able future,” said Horgan.

Canada’s Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau ini­tial­ly tried to flat­ter Trump, only to set off the Trump ego with bare­ly crit­i­cal remarks at a press con­fer­ence fol­low­ing a trade sum­mit in Cana­da. The incum­bent fired off insults from Air Force One.

Hence, on Sat­ur­day, Trudeau was con­grat­u­lat­ing Biden and Har­ris and effus­ing over “shared geog­ra­phy, com­mon inter­ests, deep per­son­al con­nec­tions and strong eco­nom­ic ties.”

The relief could be sensed in a Trudeau tweet: “Our two coun­tries are close friends, part­ners and allies. We share a rela­tion­ship that’s unique on the world stage. I’m real­ly look­ing for­ward to work­ing togeth­er to build­ing on that with you.”

Modi staged a ral­ly for Trump when No. 45 vis­it­ed India, and trav­eled to Texas for an event designed to boost Trump’s appeal to Indi­an Americans.

That was then. On Sat­ur­day, Modi showed a pic­ture of him­self with Biden and con­grat­u­lat­ed the Pres­i­dent-elect on “your spec­tac­u­lar victory.”

He had praise for Kamala Har­ris, the first woman Veep, and first Vice Pres­i­dent with South Asian ances­try. “Hearti­est con­grat­u­la­tions Kamala Har­ris,” tweet­ed Modi. “Your suc­cess is path­break­ing, and a mat­ter of immense pride not just for your chit­tis, but also for all Indi­an Amer­i­cans. I am con­fi­dent that the vibrant India-US ties will get even stronger with your sup­port and leadership.”

The UK’s Boris John­son, allied with Trump on Brex­it, tweet­ed: “Con­grat­u­la­tions to Joe Biden on his elec­tion as Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States and to Kamala Har­ris on her his­toric achieve­ment. The Unit­ed States is our most impor­tant ally and I look for­ward to work­ing loose­ly togeth­er on our shared pri­or­i­ties, from cli­mate change to trade and security.”

Pres­i­dent Emmanuel Macron of France tried to get on with Trump, invit­ing the 45th Pres­i­dent to cel­e­brate Bastille Day in Paris and wit­ness the Republic’s annu­al mil­i­tary parade. Trump returned home and want­ed to stage his own grand parade down Penn­syl­va­nia Avenue.

“The Amer­i­cans have cho­sen their Pres­i­dent,” Macron said Sat­ur­day. “Con­grat­u­la­tions Joe Biden and Kamala Har­ris. We have a lot to do to over­come today’s chal­lenges. Let’s work together.”

You can sense his relief.

NATO’s Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al Jens Stoltenberg was also very hap­py.

“I warm­ly wel­come the elec­tion of Joe Biden as the next Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States,” the Alliance’s chief­tain said in a state­ment. “I know Mr. Biden as a strong sup­port­er of NATO and the transat­lantic relationship.”

“A strong NATO is good for North Amer­i­ca and good for Europe,” the Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al observed. “Togeth­er, NATO Allies rep­re­sent almost one bil­lion peo­ple, half of the world’s eco­nom­ic might and half of the world’s mil­i­tary might.”

“We need this col­lec­tive strength to deal with the many chal­lenges we face, includ­ing a more assertive Rus­sia, inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ism, cyber and mis­sile threats, and a shift in the glob­al bal­ance of pow­er with the rise of Chi­na. We can only be secure and suc­cess­ful if we face these chal­lenges together.”

The gov­ern­ment of Ger­many, led by Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel, is per­haps the most eager of all of Amer­i­ca’s allies to mend bro­ken fences.

“I sin­cere­ly wish him the best of luck and every suc­cess and I would also like to con­grat­u­late Kamala Har­ris, the first female vice pres­i­dent-elect in the his­to­ry of your coun­try,” Merkel said in a state­ment. “I look for­ward to work­ing with Pres­i­dent Biden. Our trans-Atlantic friend­ship is indis­pens­able if we are to deal with the major chal­lenges of our time.”

Ger­many’s For­eign Min­is­ter announced that Merkel’s gov­ern­ment will offer “con­crete pro­pos­als” to Biden’s team for address­ing Chi­na’s behav­ior, the cli­mate cri­sis, and the nov­el coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic through a transat­lantic partnership.

The new for­eign min­is­ter of New Zealand, Nana­ia Mahuta, first Maori to hold the post, pref­aced her offi­cial state­ment with a smi­ley face.

She not­ed a 2016 Biden vis­it to New Zealand, and then cel­e­brat­ed Kamala Har­ris, say­ing the Veep-elect will bring “some very unique attrib­ut­es to their lead­er­ship” as the first woman of col­or in the job.

Leav­ing unsaid the unco­op­er­a­tive atti­tude of Trump as lead­ers’ meet­ings, New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter Jacin­da Ardern added: “There are many chal­lenges in front of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty right now, the mes­sage of uni­ty from Joe Biden posi­tions us well to take these chal­lenges together.”

The mes­sage from across the Tas­man Sea was the same.

“Aus­tralia wish­es you every suc­cess in office,” said Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son to Biden and Har­ris. “The Aus­tralia-Unit­ed States Alliance is deep and endur­ing, and built on shared val­ues. I look for­ward to work­ing with you close­ly as we face the world’s many chal­lenges together.”

The feel­ing is that with lift­ing of the Trump bur­den, the world can coop­er­ate to face oth­er bur­dens. Can lead­ers make up for time lost?

Saturday, November 7th, 2020

Joe Biden declared President-elect; Kamala Harris declared Vice President-elect… at last!

Joe Biden will become the next Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States. 

Kamala Har­ris will become the next Vice Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States.

That was the inevitable con­clu­sion reached this morn­ing by the Asso­ci­at­ed Press and tele­vi­sion net­works in the Unit­ed States after a long elec­tion results vig­il that began at the end of vot­ing and con­tin­ued through Fri­day night, sev­en­ty-two hours after Elec­tion Day had end­ed. Hav­ing assessed that Biden’s lead in Penn­syl­va­nia was secure, media “deci­sion desk teams” called the Key­stone State for his cam­paign. That put Biden (and Har­ris) at over 270 Elec­toral Col­lege votes.

“I am hon­ored and hum­bled by the trust the Amer­i­can peo­ple have placed in me and in Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Har­ris,” said Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden.

“In the face of unprece­dent­ed obsta­cles, a record num­ber of Amer­i­cans vot­ed. Prov­ing once again, that democ­ra­cy beats deep in the heart of Amer­i­ca. With the cam­paign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come togeth­er as a nation. It’s time for Amer­i­ca to unite. And to heal. We are the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca. And there’s noth­ing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

At the time that CNN declared Biden the win­ner, long­time Biden advi­sor Liz Allen walked by and cheered, the reporter sta­tioned with the Biden cam­paign reported.

At Biden’s stag­ing head­quar­ters in Wilm­ing­ton (the West­in Hotel), there was jubi­la­tion. Min­utes before CNN decid­ed to call the race for Biden, Valerie Biden Owens walked out of the lob­by and said. “It’s won­der­ful. It’s a won­der­ful thing for us but it’s a bet­ter thing for America.”

Cam­paign man­ag­er Jen O’Malley Dil­lon then walked through the lob­by in a white Biden t‑shirt. She had been on a run and her moth­er called to tell her about CNN’s call for Biden, she said, while enter­ing an elevator.

“Ecsta­t­ic — a great day for this coun­ty,” she said when asked how she felt.

Biden and Har­ris won by reassem­bling the “blue wall” of Great Lakes states that Hillary Clin­ton nar­row­ly lost to Trump four years ago. They recap­tured Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan, and Penn­syl­va­nia while keep­ing Min­neso­ta in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­umn. (Illi­nois, also a Great Lakes State, was always expect­ed to be blue.)

On Elec­tion Night, tal­lies showed Trump ahead in Penn­syl­va­nia, but only because the Key­stone State had not been able to start pro­cess­ing its mail-in bal­lots due to the Repub­li­can Leg­is­la­ture’s refusal to change a law pre­vent­ing elec­tions offi­cials from get­ting start­ed on putting them through their systems.

As the state’s pop­u­lous coun­ties worked through their back­log, it became clear that Biden was on track to take the lead. And he did. While his lead in Penn­syl­va­nia is not enor­mous, he’s expect­ed to be out­side of the mar­gin for a recount when all bal­lots have been added to the state’s tally.

Neva­da, Geor­gia, North Car­oli­na, and Alas­ka remain uncalled by the AP and tele­vi­sion net­works. Ari­zona has been called by Fox and the AP for Biden.

If Biden wins Neva­da and Geor­gia, he would have over three hun­dred elec­toral votes at the end of the Decem­ber meet­ing of the Elec­toral College.

North Car­oli­na and Alas­ka are like­ly to end up in Trump’s column.

Trump was able to keep hold of oth­er swing states, like Flori­da and Ohio, that went Repub­li­can after pre­vi­ous­ly vot­ing for Barack Oba­ma in 2008 and 2012.

But it was­n’t enough. By fierce­ly con­test­ing the Great Lakes region, the South­west, and the South, Democ­rats put new states into play while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly work­ing to win back the three north­ern states that slipped away from Hillary Clin­ton in 2016 and sealed her fate.

Biden’s vic­to­ry is one of the most impor­tant events in the his­to­ry of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca. It is a sore­ly need­ed repu­di­a­tion of neo­fas­cism and corruption.

It is rare that an incum­bent pres­i­dent is boot­ed out of office.

In fact, the last time this hap­pened was in 1992, when Bill Clin­ton defeat­ed George H.W. Bush. Before that, Jim­my Carter, Her­bert Hoover, and Howard Taft lost reelec­tion to chal­lengers. (Incum­bent Ger­ald Ford also was defeat­ed in 1976, though he had nev­er been elect­ed to begin with.)

H.W. Bush and Taft were done in, in part, by the pres­ence of minor par­ty can­di­dates on the bal­lot who attract­ed a sig­nif­i­cant share of the vote.

Biden did not have an H. Ross Per­ot or Ted­dy Roo­sevelt fig­ure around help­ing to siphon votes away from the incum­bent. But he did­n’t need that dynam­ic to pre­vail. Though his oppo­nent proved to be a turnout machine, Biden was able to assem­ble an even big­ger coali­tion of vot­ers, the biggest ever seen in history.

It’s a coali­tion that just might deliv­er him states that not even Barack Oba­ma won, which would be an incred­i­ble accomplishment.

NPI extends its warmest con­grat­u­la­tions to Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden and Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Kamala Har­ris. Though we do not endorse can­di­dates at NPI, we are hap­py to see vot­ers choose the Demo­c­ra­t­ic tick­et to gov­ern this coun­try. Anoth­er four years of Trump would have had unimag­in­able con­se­quences for the coun­try. For­tu­nate­ly, the peo­ple have cho­sen to put Amer­i­ca on a bet­ter path.

Friday, November 6th, 2020

A tale of two contested legislative districts, drawn to lean Republican, in a changing state

The Slade Gor­ton mas­tery of Wash­ing­ton redis­trict­ing, which last­ed part of two cen­turies, was last felt in the post-2010 cen­sus design of leg­isla­tive dis­tricts in which bound­aries were art­ful­ly drawn to make them a lit­tle more Republican.

The art form was on dis­play in the state’s 42nd and 10th Leg­isla­tive Districts.

Neigh­bor­hoods of lib­er­al Belling­ham dis­ap­peared from the 42nd, giv­ing more weight to con­ser­v­a­tive and still large­ly rur­al What­com County.

The 10th was redrawn to put more con­ser­v­a­tive turf in Skag­it and Sno­homish Coun­ties into a dis­trict cen­tered on Whid­bey and Camano Islands.

The 2020 elec­tion has yield­ed a sur­prise – if it holds.

In the 42nd Dis­trict, as of Fri­day, Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Ali­cia Rule was lead­ing Repub­li­can incum­bent Luanne Van Wer­ven by 2,108 votes.

State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Sharon Shew­make, a Demo­c­rat who won a razor-thin upset vic­to­ry in 2018, is more than 3,134 votes ahead of the GOP’s Jen­nifer Sefzik.

The Democ­rats’ appar­ent vic­to­ries sets up what should be the Legislature’s mar­quee strug­gle of 2022. State Sen­a­tor Doug Erick­sen of Fer­n­dale won reelec­tion two years ago by just forty-five votes.

Erick­sen is best known as co-chair of the 2016 Trump cam­paign in Wash­ing­ton, as a paid lob­by­ist for Cam­bo­dia, and as the petro­le­um industry’s chief advo­cate in Olympia. He has often been enter­tained more than any oth­er legislator.

The redrawn 10th Dis­trict vot­ed out its Demo­c­ra­t­ic State Sen­a­tor Mary Mar­garet Hau­gen in 2012, with the reli­gious right send­ing out hit mail­ings decry­ing her coura­geous vote for mar­riage equal­i­ty. The dis­trict did not elect anoth­er Demo­c­rat until State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dave Paul eked out a win in 2018.

Three Democ­rats led in the 10th District’s elec­tion night count. The Wednes­day and Thurs­day bal­lot dumps have swung to the Republicans.

Appoint­ed State Sen­a­tor Ron Muz­za­ll, a Repub­li­can, holds a one hun­dred and forty one vote lead over Demo­c­rat Helen Price John­son. HPJ is one of the Democ­rats’ top recruits in the 2020 elec­tion cycle, a three-term coun­ty com­mis­sion­er who helped Island Coun­ty nav­i­gate through the Great Recession.

One Repub­li­can who earned bipar­ti­san sup­port, State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Nor­ma Smith, decid­ed not to run this year. She backed Gov­er­nor Inslee on net neu­tral­i­ty, and coau­thored (with Demo­c­rat Drew Hansen) leg­is­la­tion slap­ping crim­i­nal penal­ties on own­ers who led decay­ing boats leak oil into our water­ways. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son has brought charges under the “garbage scow” law.

For­mer Island Coun­ty Com­mis­sion­er Ang­ie Homo­la leads Repub­li­can Greg Gil­day, a Camano Island attor­ney and Smith’s cho­sen suc­ces­sor, by 582 votes. Paul is 2,036 votes ahead of hard-line Repub­li­can oppo­nent Bill Bruch.

Bruch is the Skag­it Coun­ty Repub­li­can Chair, a COVID-19 skep­tic and foe of the state’s com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion law.

Bruch was hit with scan­dal late in the campaign.

Skag­it Coun­ty Democ­rats found he was twice sued in What­com Coun­ty for alleged­ly mak­ing false rep­re­sen­ta­tions to two clients on invest­ment opportunities.

The sto­ry was picked up by a paper in LaCon­ner and the South Whid­bey Record Default judg­ments total­ing $1.7 mil­lion were entered against Bruch after he did not respond to the legal actions. Bruch has called the 1998 case “ancient his­to­ry” and claims to have been a “naïve vic­tim” of an asso­ciate. “Young and naïve, I was exploit­ed, used and defraud­ed of tens of thou­sands of dol­lars of my own mon­ey by some­one who I believed to be a trust­ed friend,” he said in a statement.

The Democ­rats have as strong a tick­et in the 10th Dis­trict as any­place in the state. Muz­za­ll has served only a few months fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of Repub­li­can Bar­bara Bai­ley, who did the bid­ding of big busi­ness in the Legislature.

Slade Gor­ton is no longer with us, so he can­not serve as a post-2020 cen­sus redis­trict­ing com­mis­sion­er. The Repub­li­cans ran the table ten years ago, after Democ­rats telegraphed their demands. They got a U.S. House dis­trict shaped for Den­ny Heck, and a major­i­ty-minor­i­ty Con­gres­sion­al dis­trict. The Democ­rats yield­ed con­ces­sions that elect­ed Repub­li­can legislators.

Democ­rats have paid for one more piece of post-2010 redis­trict­ing handiwork.

The 19th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict is a long­time Demo­c­ra­t­ic baili­wick. But the last redis­trict­ing put a big chunk of con­ser­v­a­tive Lewis Coun­ty into the 19th. Repub­li­can Jim Walsh, a loud Tim Eyman ally, was elect­ed in 2016.

A pair of Democ­rats, State Sen­a­tor Dean Takko and long­time State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bri­an Blake, an oppo­nent of gun respon­si­bil­i­ty, have been sent pack­ing this year.

Polit­i­cal align­ments change. Belling­ham and What­com Coun­ty used to be prime con­test­ed ter­ri­to­ry. In his first race for Attor­ney Gen­er­al in 1968, Gor­ton tar­get­ed the coun­ty with a mail­ing that dis­closed that his oppo­nent had been arrest­ed for dri­ving drunk. It swayed my par­ents’ votes.

The coun­ty is still con­ser­v­a­tive, while Belling­ham is strong­ly progressive.

The bulk of “Bel­ly­wash” was put in the solid­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic 40th District.

By con­trast, South­west Wash­ing­ton has moved to the right. Only two of Washington’s thir­ty-nine coun­ties – Grays Har­bor and Pacif­ic – vot­ed for George McGov­ern back in 1972. Both vot­ed for Trump in 2016.

Grays Har­bor did so again this year.

Cowlitz Coun­ty, anoth­er part of the 19th, vot­ed big for Trump and gave six­ty-two per­cent of its vote to Repub­li­can guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Loren Culp.

Gov­er­nor Inslee, give some time and atten­tion to your state’s rust belt.

Friday, November 6th, 2020

NPI’s 2020 polling correctly foreshadowed the result in every Washington statewide race

Over the past six­ty hours, there’s been a lot of dis­cus­sion con­cern­ing how polit­i­cal polling this elec­tion cycle missed the mark, espe­cial­ly in states like Maine, where the avail­able body of pub­lic opin­ion research incor­rect­ly sug­gest­ed that entrenched incum­bent Repub­li­can Susan Collins was toast.

Fire the poll­sters has now become some­thing of a ral­ly­ing cry on Twit­ter and oth­er social media plat­forms, in vary­ing flavors.

“Fire poll­sters, hire local reporters,” tweet­ed Car­o­line Darya Framke.

“Fire poll­sters and replace them with film pro­gram­mers,” tweet­ed Adam Piron.

“Fire all poll­sters. Let’s not both­er with them in 2024,” tweet­ed Dale Maharidge.

“Fire all poll­sters and go back to read­ing ani­mal entrails the way God intend­ed us to pre­dict the future,” joked Kyle Smith.

“Polling seems to be irrev­o­ca­bly bro­ken, or at least our under­stand­ing of how seri­ous­ly to take it is,” Mar­garet Sul­li­van wrote in a Wash­ing­ton Post op-ed.

“The polling indus­try is a wreck, and should be blown up,” Politi­co declared.

While our team at NPI can cer­tain­ly under­stand the frus­tra­tion with impor­tant results not turn­ing out the way the research indi­cat­ed they would, not every poll­ster and not every poll got it wrong this year.

Con­sid­er our poll from three weeks ago.

Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling of North Car­oli­na sur­veyed six hun­dred and ten like­ly Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers for us on Octo­ber 14th and 15th. 45% par­tic­i­pat­ed via land­line, and 55% via text; yield­ing a mar­gin of error of +/- 4.0% and a con­fi­dence inter­val of 95%. We asked about every sin­gle con­test­ed statewide race on the bal­lot except for ESJR 8212, a pro­posed con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment, and found:

In each race, the can­di­date that we found to be ahead in our Octo­ber 2020 polling is win­ning, with no excep­tions, not even in the clos­er races, like Sec­re­tary of State or Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruction. 

The races that were clos­est in our polling have all been called, either by the Asso­ci­at­ed Press or by observers (includ­ing Sec­re­tary of State, the clos­est, which pit­ted Kim Wyman against NPI’s senior board­mem­ber Gael Tarleton.)

In races where we had a low num­ber of unde­cid­ed vot­ers, even the mar­gins in our polling are pret­ty close to the cur­rent elec­tion results.

For exam­ple, in the pres­i­den­tial race, we found Biden with 60% sup­port, Trump with 37% sup­port, and 2% not sure. In the actu­al elec­tion, as of the third day of count­ing, Biden had 59.13%, Trump had 37.79%, and oth­er can­di­dates had less than 2%. That’s an almost per­fect cor­re­la­tion with our poll finding.

In the guber­na­to­r­i­al race, mean­while, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee cur­rent­ly has 57.74%; our poll had him at 56%. Repub­li­can chal­lenger Loren Culp achieved 40% in our poll and present­ly has 41.95%% in the elec­tion; it appears that he and Inslee split the small num­ber of vot­ers who were undecided.

It’s not unusu­al for there to be some devi­a­tion between poll find­ings and actu­al results; the fact that there is bare­ly any in this case shows that our sam­ple tru­ly was rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the 2020 Wash­ing­ton State electorate.

Just like it has been for sev­er­al elec­tion cycles now.

NPI’s part­ner­ship with Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling has been going strong for over half a decade, con­sis­tent­ly pro­duc­ing data that has fore­shad­owed elec­tion results.

Take the 2018 election.

In a poll con­duct­ed six months before the elec­tion, NPI’s research found Maria Cantwell with a six­teen point lead over Susan Hutchi­son.

This was the very first statewide poll pit­ting Cantwell against Hutchi­son; it was con­duct­ed with­in one hun­dred hours of the close of fil­ing by PPP for NPI.

Though half a year elapsed between the poll and the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the midterms, Cantwell went on to win by.… wait for it… 16.86 points.

The num­bers:

NPI’s research (May 22nd-23rd, 2018)

QUESTION: If the elec­tion for U.S. Sen­ate were held today and the can­di­dates were Demo­c­rat Maria Cantwell and Repub­li­can Susan Hutchi­son, who would you vote for?

ANSWERS:

  • Maria Cantwell: 52%
  • Susan Hutchi­son: 36%
  • Not sure: 12%

Election (November 6th, 2018)

VOTES:

Maria Cantwell: 58.43%
Susan Hutchi­son: 41.57%
Total Votes: 3,086,168

At NPI, we care about the qual­i­ty of data.

If the inputs are bad, then the out­puts will be bad (garbage in, garbage out).

We are emphat­i­cal­ly sub­jec­tive in our views as an advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion — we’re very trans­par­ent about what our val­ues, prin­ci­ples, and pol­i­cy direc­tions are —  but as a research orga­ni­za­tion, we aggres­sive­ly strive for objec­tiv­i­ty when we field a sur­vey or anoth­er research instru­ment. A sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly accu­rate poll needs to have a sam­ple that is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the electorate.

And neu­tral word­ing is essen­tial. Essential.

We can­not know what peo­ple’s views real­ly are on the issues if we were to ask loaded ques­tions that sug­gest their own answers.

Tim Eyman’s push polls — those false­ly-labeled “advi­so­ry votes” that keep show­ing up on Wash­ing­to­ni­ans’ bal­lots — are a per­fect exam­ple of how not to take the pulse of the elec­torate. Those are pieces of pro­pa­gan­da… utter­ly use­less for ascer­tain­ing what vot­ers real­ly think.

And by the way… most Wash­ing­ton vot­ers who have an opin­ion about Eyman’s push polls want them gone. We know because we’ve asked. Repeatedly.

Each time we have asked, it has been in the form of a neu­tral­ly word­ed ques­tion that pit­ted Tim Eyman’s best honed argu­ments against our own. Our argu­ments have beat­en his every sin­gle time, as this pre­sen­ta­tion explains.

Dur­ing the past few weeks, we’ve had more than one right wing com­menter show up and insist that our research was not cred­i­ble. For exam­ple, Mar­ty Wentz wrote: “your [sic] so full of it. Ins­ley [sic] has about as much a chance to win as I do.” Nick Kel­logg sneered: “I think this if [sic] a fake news and a fake poll.”

I imag­ine that Novem­ber 3rd was a rough night for Mar­ty and Nick.

Like oth­er Trump and Culp fans, they sad­ly dwell in their own “Upside Down” alter­na­tive uni­verse, where any­thing that does not fit with the par­ty line is imme­di­ate­ly assailed as fake and fab­ri­cat­ed, and con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries are rampant.

What this elec­tion has actu­al­ly proven that our research is pro­duc­ing use­ful, cred­i­ble data that can help any­one inter­est­ed in Wash­ing­ton State pol­i­tics under­stand how vot­ers per­ceive issues and candidates.

Even in a year of polling miss­es, our polling here in Wash­ing­ton State was on the mark. If you’d like to help fund our next sur­vey, we invite you to become a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute or make a con­tri­bu­tion.

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

Washington State Supreme Court justices choose Steven González as their new Chief

Wash­ing­ton State’s nine State Supreme Court jus­tices will have a new leader as of this Jan­u­ary: Steven González. The bril­liant jurist, who authored last mon­th’s deci­sion emphat­i­cal­ly strik­ing down Tim Eyman’s bla­tant­ly uncon­sti­tu­tion­al Ini­tia­tive 976, has been cho­sen by his col­leagues to serve in the role, which is for a fixed term, unlike the posi­tion of Chief Jus­tice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

González will take over from Jus­tice Debra Stephens, who served out the remain­der of Jus­tice Mary Fairhurst’s term as Chief Jus­tice. (The jus­tices select a Chief Jus­tice from amongst them­selves in an inter­nal election.)

“I am hon­ored to be elect­ed by my col­leagues and I look for­ward to work­ing with them and oth­ers on the impor­tant ini­tia­tives and deci­sions of this Court that touch the lives of every­one in Wash­ing­ton,” said Jus­tice González in a state­ment.

Justice Steve Gonzalez asks a question during the McCleary case (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Jus­tice Steve Gon­za­lez asks a ques­tion dur­ing the McCleary case (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

“González has been a mem­ber of the Supreme Court since Jan­u­ary 2012, and he was a King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court judge for ten years before join­ing the Supreme Court,” the Supreme Court’s press office notes.

“Before becom­ing a judge, Jus­tice González was an Assis­tant Unit­ed States Attor­ney for the West­ern Dis­trict of Wash­ing­ton, an Assis­tant City Attor­ney for the City of Seat­tle, and a busi­ness law attor­ney in pri­vate practice.”

Vot­ers have elect­ed him to two full terms on the Supreme Court since he was appoint­ed by Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire in 2011 to fill the vacan­cy left by the retire­ment of Ger­ry Alex­nad­er. Here’s a sto­ry about his appoint­ment.

“His expe­ri­ence with pro­found­ly impor­tant issues, close study of the law and per­spec­tive as a tri­al court judge will make Judge González an excel­lent Supreme Court Jus­tice,” Gre­goire said upon hav­ing cho­sen González.

That appoint­ment ranks as one of Gre­goire’s best deci­sions as governor.

Jus­tice González is one of the finest legal minds that I know. His ser­vice on the Supreme Court has been absolute­ly exem­plary. He is an out­stand­ing jus­tice, of the very high­est cal­iber, and our team is thrilled to see him in this lead­er­ship role on the Court. It is tru­ly a fit­ting recog­ni­tion of his skills and abilities.

Appro­pri­ate­ly, his col­leagues seem just as delight­ed as we are.

Wrote Jus­tice Mary Yu: “We have elect­ed a new Chief Jus­tice of the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court and his name is Jus­tice Steve González! He will be sworn in as Chief in Jan­u­ary. I am so excited!”

“I’m proud to serve on this court with Jus­tice González as our next Chief Jus­tice,” wrote new­ly retained Jus­tice Raquel Mon­toya-Lewis.

Jus­tice González has been part of every major­i­ty deci­sion reached against an Eyman ini­tia­tive since join­ing the Supreme Court, and authored an excel­lent con­cur­ring opin­ion in 2016 against Tim Eyman’s I‑1366.

He sup­port­ed retired Jus­tice Mary Fairhurst’s lead opin­ion strik­ing down the death penal­ty in 2018, and just this week was part of a major­i­ty that struck down an old law bar­ring farm work­ers from receiv­ing over­time pay.

We know Steve González will be a great leader, spokesper­son, and advo­cate for our judi­cia­ry in dif­fi­cult times. Our best wish­es to him as he begins his new role.

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020

King County’s 5th Legislative District appears ready for more progressive representation

Last night’s ear­ly elec­tion results in the 5th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, if they hold, should put an end to the end­less pon­tif­i­cat­ing that despite elect­ing three Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­is­la­tors in 2018, the 5th is a pur­ple dis­trict… and that the only way Democ­rats can win there is by run­ning can­di­dates who oppose pro­gres­sive ideas.

The ear­ly gen­er­al elec­tion results, which are total­ly con­sis­tent with the August Top Two elec­tion results, tell a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. The dis­trict is now 60%-68% blue, com­pa­ra­ble with safe Demo­c­ra­t­ic dis­tricts to the west.

Con­sid­er the race for State House, Posi­tion #1. In this race pit­ting a Demo­c­rat against a Repub­li­can, Bill Ramos leads 63% to 37%.

That’s a mas­sive mar­gin, espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing that only four years ago, Repub­li­cans won both of the dis­tric­t’s State House races.

In the race for State House, Posi­tion #2, Lisa Callan is unop­posed and get­ting 90% of the vote against 10% write-ins, which are pre­sump­tive­ly com­ing from Repub­li­can vot­ers who found Lisa unpalat­able. A more real­is­tic analy­sis includes blank bal­lots. Tak­ing those into account, Lisa gets 68%.

The Sen­ate race is more dif­fi­cult to ana­lyze. In this all-Demo­c­ra­t­ic race, Ingrid Ander­son leads Mark Mul­let 50% to 48%. As in Lisa Callan’s one-sided race, we need to con­sid­er the blank bal­lots. That analy­sis shows Ingrid lead­ing 44% to 43% with 13% of the vot­ers sit­ting this race out. Obvi­ous­ly, many Repub­li­cans chose to vote in this race, since the dis­trict is at least 32% — 35% Republican.

What’s inter­est­ing in the Sen­ate race is that Ander­son ran as an unapolo­getic pro­gres­sive Demo­c­rat, while Mul­let active­ly court­ed Repub­li­can voters.

Mark is def­i­nite­ly still in this, and with many votes still yet to be count­ed, he may ulti­mate­ly win (though Ander­son is in the bet­ter position).

But if he does win, it will be a dif­fi­cult strat­e­gy to repeat.

As a two term incum­bent, his name recog­ni­tion should have car­ried him to an easy vic­to­ry. But hav­ing already vio­lat­ed the num­ber one rule in pol­i­tics (don’t alien­ate your base), he swung hard in the oth­er direction.

Mul­let ran on his oppo­si­tion to pro­gres­sive tax reform, includ­ing a cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy, his record of chan­nel­ing dol­lars into the dis­trict, espe­cial­ly for high­way projects, and his enthu­si­asm for work­ing close­ly with Republicans.

He clear­ly mis­read his district.

By my cal­cu­la­tions, Ander­son received well over two-thirds of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic votes. While Mul­let did suc­ceed in woo­ing a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of Repub­li­cans, it wasn’t quite enough to secure first place in the ini­tial returns.

The 5th is a solid­ly blue slice of King Coun­ty now, with a rapid­ly increas­ing num­ber of vot­ers who desire strong pro­gres­sive representation.

If Ander­son wins, the dis­trict will get a sen­a­tor who will fit in nice­ly with the East­side’s diver­si­fy­ing leg­isla­tive del­e­ga­tion. There is cur­rent­ly no nurse in the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus; Ander­son would offer a valu­able per­spec­tive as the Leg­is­la­ture works to con­front the coro­n­avirus pandemic.

A vic­to­ry for Ander­son would also cement the trans­for­ma­tion of the East­side’s Sen­ate del­e­ga­tion. As of the end of 2014, it was all men with views rang­ing from pret­ty con­ser­v­a­tive to par­tial­ly pro­gres­sive: Andy Hill, Steve Lit­zow, Rod­ney Tom, and Mul­let. Now, it could be all women: Man­ka Dhin­gra, Lisa Well­man, Pat­ty Kud­er­er, and Ander­son. That’s quite the change in just six years.

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020

Election Night indicates Washington State will see a blue tsunami, even if other states won’t

Sus­pense and sav­age polit­i­cal war­fare over the out­come of the 2020 pres­i­den­tial race may take days or even weeks, but a blue wave crashed ashore in this Wash­ing­ton min­utes after the 8 PM dead­line for return­ing ballots.

Our days as a “pur­ple” state are clear­ly in the past.

Incum­bent Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee was tak­ing six­ty per­cent of the vote in his bid for a third term, with chal­lenger Loren Culp held under forty per­cent in returns released Tues­day night. The Democ­rats’ thir­ty-six-year grip on the governor’s office has been extend­ed for four more years.

The vic­to­ries of Inslee and Joe Biden were sus­tained by 500,000 vote mar­gins in pop­u­lous King Coun­ty, but pro­gres­sives are win­ning all over the place.

Pro­gres­sive Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates are ahead in three much-watched State Sen­ate races. Repub­li­can-held House seats are in jeop­ardy from What­com Coun­ty to Clark Coun­ty, and Island Coun­ty in between.

Only one Demo­c­rat in the Legislature’s upper cham­ber – State Sen­a­tor Dean Takko in the 19th Dis­trict of South­west Wash­ing­ton – is on the ropes.

The reli­gious right and Repub­li­cans forced a ref­er­en­dum on the Legislature’s sex edu­ca­tion plan, only to have near­ly six­ty per­cent of vot­ers approv­ing it.

State Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruc­tion Chris Reyk­dal came storm­ing back in the gen­er­al elec­tion, after a weak Top Two elec­tion showing.

The political/religious right has tak­en its cause to the vot­ers three times in the past eleven years. It forced a 2009 vote on domes­tic part­ner­ships. It took the Legislature’s 2012 approval of mar­riage equal­i­ty to the vot­ers. It resist­ed sex edu­ca­tion in the Leg­is­la­ture this year, mak­ing it a fall cam­paign issue.

The result? Three ring­ing rejections.

One of the two Repub­li­cans left in statewide office, State Trea­sur­er Duane David­son, has like­ly been unseat­ed by Demo­c­ra­t­ic State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Pelic­ciot­ti. The oth­er, Sec­re­tary of State Kim Wyman, is hang­ing on with 51.4% per­cent of the vote to an office Repub­li­cans have held since 1964.

The vot­ers are endors­ing two of Gov­er­nor Inslee’s appointees to the State Supreme Court, includ­ing the high court’s first Native Amer­i­can jus­tice, Raquel Mon­toya-Lewis, and the first black female jus­tice, G. Helen Whitener.

Years of Tim Eyman tantrums, deliv­ered when­ev­er the Supremes over­turn one of his bad­ly writ­ten ini­tia­tives, have not shak­en sup­port for the nation’s most diverse Supreme Court, which is most­ly women (sev­en of nine jus­tices are female).

Are we dif­fer­ent from the rest of the country?

Dif­fer­ences are undeniable.

Much of Mid­dle Amer­i­ca remains polit­i­cal­ly and social­ly con­ser­v­a­tive, which is why many of its tal­ent­ed young peo­ple head West. The “Left Coast” dri­ves the nation’s tech­nol­o­gy econ­o­my. It is home to the country’s most diverse pop­u­la­tions. The West’s largest employ­ers have embraced social tol­er­ance. Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon and Cal­i­for­nia have formed a legal/political bul­wark against Trumpism.

It is so from the Mex­i­can bor­der to the 49th Par­al­lel. Ear­ly results from this elec­tion are sus­tain­ing the new blue col­oration of California’s Orange Coun­ty, once a seedbed of Amer­i­can con­ser­vatism. Oregon’s U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio was alleged­ly in polit­i­cal trou­ble. He’s won in a walk, along with Sen­a­tor Jeff Merkley.

Once a home to par­tial­ly pro­gres­sive Repub­li­cans, sym­bol­ized by the late Sen­a­tor Mark Hat­field, Ore­gon has now elect­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nors for thir­ty-four years.

Wash­ing­ton, D.C., has expe­ri­enced the dead­lock of democracy.

Wash­ing­ton State will see a more pro­gres­sive Leg­is­la­ture con­vene in Jan­u­ary. Like­ly gone is State Sen­a­tor Steve O’Ban of the 28th Dis­trict in Pierce Coun­ty, a social con­ser­v­a­tive who has spe­cial­ized in bait­ing Sound Transit.

The state’s “blue-green” coali­tion of labor and envi­ron­men­tal­ists drew a bead on 5tatte Sen­a­tor Mark Mul­let, a pro-busi­ness Demo­c­rat who posed a major obsta­cle to pro­gres­sive tax reform and cli­mate leg­is­la­tion. He is trail­ing emer­gency room nurse Ingrid Ander­son by near­ly 1,000 votes.

Gov­er­nor Inslee has sought to play on a larg­er stage, with his short-lived run for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion. Instead, the 2020 elec­tion has offered oppor­tu­ni­ty at home, to make Wash­ing­ton a lab­o­ra­to­ry and model.

The Gov­er­nor seems poised to at last achieve his cli­mate initiatives.

He has hes­i­tat­ed in the past, but now has the oppor­tu­ni­ty for push­ing to reform the most unjust tax sys­tem in the nation, includ­ing the levy­ing of a cap­i­tal gains tax, which enjoys robust statewide sup­port accord­ing to NPI’s research.

The “Left Coast” has like-mind­ed lead­ers, from Cal­i­for­nia Gov­er­nor Gavin New­som to British Colum­bia Pre­mier John Hor­gan, reelect­ed last month by vot­ers in Canada’s “province on the Pacif­ic.” They can coop­er­ate toward such goals as bring­ing high-speed rail to the Inter­state 5 corridor.

Seat­tle, Port­land and San Fran­cis­co were demo­nized by Trump and his media lack­eys on Fox, long before racial jus­tice demon­stra­tors hit the streets.

Why? Part of the rea­son is that we’ve resist­ed right-wing takeovers of state courts, leg­is­la­tures and Governor’s offices else­where in the country.

We’ve expand­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties to vote.

We’ve reject­ed nativism and cel­e­brat­ed what Amer­i­ca has come to look like.

Let us con­tin­ue down this path.

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

Today is General Election Day 2020. Haven’t voted yet? It’s time to get that ballot in!

Today is Gen­er­al Elec­tion Day in Wash­ing­ton State and across the Unit­ed States. Much is at stake. The pres­i­den­cy, four hun­dred and thir­ty five seats in the U.S. House, and a third of the seats in the Sen­ate are all on the line. And that’s just the fed­er­al lev­el posi­tions. Nine statewide exec­u­tive depart­ment posi­tions, three Supreme Court posi­tions, and three-fourths of the Leg­is­la­ture are also up.

In Ore­gon, there are three statewide con­tests (Sec­re­tary of State, Trea­sur­er, Attor­ney Gen­er­al) and a U.S. Sen­ate con­test in addi­tion to U.S. House contests.

Have you vot­ed yet? If you have, con­grat­u­la­tions on ful­fill­ing your civic duty. Haven’t vot­ed yet? It’s time to get that bal­lot in! You’ve only got a few hours left before time runs out to par­tic­i­pate. There’s no excuse for not voting.

You should have received your bal­lot in the mail a few weeks ago from the coun­ty you reside in. If you did not receive a bal­lot, or if you have mis­placed your bal­lot, go to a Vote Cen­ter to obtain a pro­vi­sion­al ballot.

It is pos­si­ble to reg­is­ter to vote and cast a bal­lot today thanks to our same-day reg­is­tra­tion law. If you are not reg­is­tered, head to a Vote Center.

Don’t for­get to sign your bal­lot before putting it in a drop box or the mail. Wash­ing­to­ni­ans, locate the near­est drop box to you by going here.

If you live in Ore­gon, don’t take your bal­lot to a post office, as it’s too late to mail it. Find a drop box instead, and take your bal­lot there.

Not sure who to vote for? If you belong to or pre­fer a par­tic­u­lar polit­i­cal par­ty, you may want to con­sult their list of endorsements.

There’s also the Pro­gres­sive Vot­ers Guide main­tained by Fuse Washington.

NPI has tak­en posi­tions on the fol­low­ing statewide bal­lot mea­sures in Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon (we do not endorse can­di­dates for office).

Wash­ing­ton

  • Ref­er­en­dum 90: APPROVED
  • Eyman Push Poll (“Advi­so­ry Vote”) #32: MAINTAINED
  • Eyman Push Poll (“Advi­so­ry Vote”) #33: MAINTAINED
  • Eyman Push Poll (“Advi­so­ry Vote”) #34: MAINTAINED
  • Eyman Push Poll (“Advi­so­ry Vote”) #35: MAINTAINED
  • ESJR 8212: APPROVED

Ore­gon

  • Mea­sure 107: YES
  • Mea­sure 108: YES
  • Mea­sure 109: YES
  • Mea­sure 110: YES

We also urge you to vote YES on King Coun­ty Propo­si­tion #1 (for Har­borview) and Seat­tle Propo­si­tion #1 (for tran­sit) if you live in those jurisdictions.

But above all.… VOTE!

Monday, November 2nd, 2020

A message to pundits, pollsters and campaign consultants on election eve: 2020 is not 2016!

Net­work pun­dits, polit­i­cal con­sul­tants, and French army gen­er­als share a pre­oc­cu­pa­tion: They are often wound up in fight­ing the last war.

“Thee has been a pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with 2016,” for­mer Oba­ma cam­paign man­ag­er David Plouffe said Mon­day morn­ing on MSNBC.

All over the air­waves, the weekend’s tele­vi­sion cov­er­age of Elec­tion 2020 seemed obsessed with find­ing “paths” where­by Don­ald Trump can repeat his 2016 upset Elec­toral Col­lege win. Tossup states blinked red on the big board.

Media exec­u­tives know high­er rat­ings are more like­ly if mil­lions of us are hang­ing on the edge of our seats, unable to move, so they have every rea­son to try to por­tray this elec­tion as extreme­ly com­pet­i­tive and down to the wire.

Brett Baier of Fox said the race is “tight­en­ing fast,” even as an NBC/Wall Street Jour­nal poll found Joe Biden with a 52–42 per­cent lead nation­al­ly, ahead by 51–46% in bat­tle­ground states, with a new Mon­mouth Poll putting Biden up 51–44% in piv­otal Pennsylvania.

Democ­rats are “wor­ried,” we were told. With­out Penn­syl­va­nia, “Biden becomes an under­dog,” said Nate Sil­ver of FiveThirtyEight.

Trump is sup­pos­ed­ly mak­ing Lati­no vote inroads in Florida.

Miami/Dade Coun­ty isn’t turn­ing out for the Democrats.

And, cour­tesy of Wash­ing­ton bred Trump strate­gist Jason Miller, the incum­bent is going to “flip” Neva­da and hold onto Arizona.

Vet­er­an Neva­da polit­i­cal writer John Ral­ston bat­ted down Miller’s pre­dic­tion with a tweet on Mon­day morn­ing, writ­ing: “It’s almost impos­si­ble for Trump to win the rurals by as much as Biden will win Clark County.”

A vast amount of chat­ter pre­cedes any election.

Trashy polls get equal treat­ment with the most pro­fes­sion­al of surveys.

When you look at their crosstabs, the Repub­li­can firm Trafal­gar Group pre­dicts that Trump will get a quar­ter of the vote from African Amer­i­can men.

In your dreams.

The real­i­ty out there is that we’re see­ing an unprece­dent­ed lev­el of par­tic­i­pa­tion. Nine­ty-five mil­lion votes have already been sub­mit­ted, approach­ing two thirds of the total 2016 turnout. Look at the nine mil­lion-plus votes already cast in Texas, plus or minus the 127,000 that Repub­li­cans have tried to get thrown out.

Many are from folks who’ve recent­ly moved to the Lone Star State, a and a sur­pris­ing num­ber come from young voters.

Georgia’s 2018 Demo­c­ra­t­ic guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Stacey Abrams deserves a medal (and Cab­i­net post?) for declin­ing a pres­i­den­tial run, and instead fight­ing vot­er sup­pres­sion in the Peachtree State. She has put Geor­gia in play, and lured Biden, Kamala Har­ris and Barack Oba­ma to cam­paign there. Impa­tience with vot­er sup­pres­sion has been met with the patience of those wait­ing hours to vote.

Park­land, Flori­da, mas­sacre sur­vivors with March For Our Lives have mount­ed a nation­wide cam­paign (large­ly unno­ticed in the media chat­ter) to get eigh­teen to thir­ty-four year olds to vote, poten­tial­ly Biden’s strongest elec­toral base.

All of this is to say, the elec­tion may be a ref­er­en­dum on Trump, but Biden is strong­ly favored to be our forty-sixth pres­i­dent. The chances of a “blue wave,” or even a blue tsuna­mi, are greater than Trump find­ing his path.

Trump is act­ing more like a cult chief­tain than a pathfinder.

He has picked a last minute fight with the nation’s pre­mier pan­dem­ic expert, Dr. Antho­ny Fau­ci. “Fire Fau­ci!” changed Trump’s crowd Sun­day night in pan­dem­ic-strick­en Wis­con­sin. The incum­bent implied he would do just that.

The per­fect Biden rejoin­der: “I got a bet­ter idea. Elect me and I’m going to hire Dr. Fau­ci. And we’re going to fire Don­ald Trump.”

Trump was out on the trail defend­ing his campaign’s bullyboys.

He praised the car­a­van of trucks and cars, sport­ing Trump-Pence flags, which sur­round­ed a Biden-Har­ris bus Sun­day in Texas, forc­ing it to slow to twen­ty miles per hour and then try­ing to force it off the road.

He was in North Car­oli­na on Mon­day, denounc­ing a Fox announc­er for (alleged­ly) low­balling the size of his crowd, and describ­ing Fox’s poll­ster as a fake and fraud for the network’s lat­est fig­ures: Biden 52 per­cent and Trump 44 percent.

To hear Trump decry the clos­est thing the Repub­li­can Par­ty has to a par­ty-owned tele­vi­sion chan­nel is like wit­ness­ing L’Osservatore Romano denounc­ing the Pope.

Hence, there’s much rea­son for hope, to calm the nerves, tune out the chat­ter, and fun­nel your activism not to fret­ting but to boost­ing Washington’s already spec­tac­u­lar turnout. Will King Coun­ty get to nine­ty per­cent? Hope so.

It’ll be grand fun to tell British Colum­bia friends that our pan­dem­ic-strick­en elec­tion pro­duced a far high­er vot­er turnout than theirs.

Sunday, November 1st, 2020

Responding to supercharged electorate, officials prepare for sprint to Election Day

Novem­ber is upon us. That means it’s almost Elec­tion Day: the last day of voting.

Here in the real Wash­ing­ton, vot­ers are fortunate.

Despite nation­al tur­moil sur­round­ing elec­tion pro­ce­dures, there has been very lit­tle con­tro­ver­sy about our well-refined vote-at-home system.

Just like most gen­er­al elec­tions held for the past decade plus, all vot­ers were mailed their mate­ri­als approx­i­mate­ly three weeks before Elec­tion Day.

After fill­ing them out care­ful­ly at home, Wash­ing­to­ni­ans can either return their bal­lots via secure drop box or via the USPS (it’s rec­om­mend­ed to use a drop box at this point to ensure your bal­lot will be returned quick­ly to elec­tions officials.)

There has been unprece­dent­ed enthu­si­asm to vote this year. Accord­ing­ly, ear­ly vot­ing turnout is sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er than four years ago.

Statewide, over 3.1 mil­lion bal­lots have been received, equiv­a­lent to 65% of vot­ers. In 2016, at this point, only 1.8 mil­lion bal­lots had been cast.

How­ev­er, cer­tain vot­ers still need help to vote, and there are still 1.6 mil­lion bal­lots left that could be cast. That’s enough bal­lots to make a big dif­fer­ence in tight races. Wash­ing­ton often sees a big surge right at the end of the voting.

King Coun­ty is open­ing six Vote Cen­ters to bet­ter serve vot­ers down the stretch. Speak­ing Sat­ur­day to com­mem­o­rate the open­ing of the Vote Cen­ter at the Cen­tu­ryLink Field Event Cen­ter in Down­town Seat­tle were King Coun­ty Elec­tions Direc­tor Julie Wise and Exec­u­tive Dow Constantine.

Julie Wise and Dow Constantine at Vote Center

King Coun­ty Elec­tions Direc­tor Julie Wise, cen­ter, and Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine, right, are seen at a press event at Cen­tu­ryLink Field Event Cen­ter, Octo­ber 31 2020 (Pho­to: Bob­by Aiyer/NPI)

Vot­ers could need to use a Vote Cen­ter — in Ren­ton, Seat­tle, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton cam­pus, Ken­more, Kent, and Fed­er­al Way — for many reasons. 

If you need to update your reg­is­tra­tion, reg­is­ter for the first time, or sim­ply have lost your bal­lot, the cen­ters can help. Braille and sip-and-puff ser­vices will be avail­able as well for vot­ers with dif­fer­ent abilities.

At each Vote Cen­ter, vot­ers will be able to reg­is­ter to vote, receive their bal­lots, obtain vot­ers pam­phlets, and sit down to vote in des­ig­nat­ed areas.

Direc­tor Wise stressed that Vote Cen­ters are not the same thing as polling places. There are no vot­ing machines, vot­ing booths, or poll books.

King County Vote Center Voting Desks

Phys­i­cal­ly dis­tanced desks for vot­ers to fill out their bal­lots are seen at the Cen­tu­ryLink Field Event Cen­ter, Octo­ber 31 2020 (Pho­to: Bob­by Aiyer/NPI)

These ser­vices have been avail­able at elec­tions offices in coun­ties statewide dur­ing the vot­ing peri­od. King Coun­ty has expand­ed the sites to bet­ter serve low­er-turnout com­mu­ni­ties in such a large jurisdiction.

King Coun­ty’s record turnout has not been even­ly spread coun­ty-wide.

Turnout is at 73% or high­er in the 36th, 43rd, and 46th Leg­isla­tive Dis­tricts; these are all whiter and more afflu­ent North Seat­tle-based electorates.

Com­pare that to the low­est turnout leg­isla­tive dis­trict: the 30th. Only 58% of bal­lots have been returned in the diverse Fed­er­al Way-based district.

I men­tioned these dis­par­i­ties to Direc­tor Wise, seek­ing her take on what could be done. Wise not­ed that the Vot­er Edu­ca­tion Fund has already been enabling many com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions to mobi­lize tra­di­tion­al­ly-dis­en­fran­chised voters.

All mate­ri­als are already print­ed in Eng­lish, Chi­nese, Span­ish, Kore­an, and Viet­namese. The coun­ty also has the abil­i­ty to pro­vide elec­tion ser­vices in a whop­ping 187 lan­guages by phone or in-person.

She expects turnout to rise well past 90% coun­ty­wide as more bal­lots come in from bal­lots across King Coun­ty, but was uncer­tain whether we’d see turnout past 90% in South King County.

Voters in line outside of Vote Center

Even as turnout nears 70% over­all, vot­ers are still enthu­si­as­tic; some wait­ing out­side the Vote Cen­ter at Cen­tu­ryLink Field before it opens Sat­ur­day morn­ing, Octo­ber 31 2020 (Pho­to: Bob­by Aiyer/NPI)

Addi­tion­al­ly, Wise cau­tioned against vot­ers wait­ing to head to Vote Cen­ters to vote in-per­son. Vot­ers look­ing for a more “tra­di­tion­al” vot­ing expe­ri­ence will find Wash­ing­ton’s elec­tions adapt­ed to vote at home technology.

There will be phys­i­cal­ly dis­tanced tables set up for vot­ers to fill out their bal­lots. But each vot­er, whether through the mail or a Vote Cen­ter, receives the same vot­ing pack­et and returns their bal­lot through a drop box.

The best course of action remains to vote as soon as pos­si­ble, direct­ly to your local drop box. Bal­lots are due statewide by 8 PM on Tuesday.

Despite record ear­ly num­bers, elec­tions offi­cials are warn­ing vot­ers lines will still be long come Tues­day. Thurston Coun­ty has even con­tract­ed a tow truck for Tues­day, in case a car runs out of gas while in the lineup.

While cam­paigns will still com­pete for every vote up until Elec­tion Day, there is some­thing they can all agree on: In Wash­ing­ton, more so than ever in 2020, there is no more Elec­tion Day. We vote dur­ing Elec­tion Month.

Sunday, November 1st, 2020

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (October 26th-30th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, Octo­ber 30th.

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

CONFIRMING AMY CONEY BARRETT: Vot­ing 52 for and 48 against, the Sen­ate on Octo­ber 26th con­firmed Amy Coney Bar­rett, 48, as an asso­ciate jus­tice of the Supreme Court, replac­ing the late Ruth Bad­er Ginsburg.

She had been a fed­er­al appeals judge since 2018 and Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame law pro­fes­sor start­ing in 2002.

Repub­li­cans said Bar­rett is a bril­liant jurist and per­son of faith who would respect con­sti­tu­tion­al word­ing and the bound­aries of set­tled law in her rulings.

Democ­rats called her a threat to estab­lished law in areas includ­ing abor­tion rights, health care, minori­ties’ bal­lot access and LGBTQ rights.

Democ­rats mocked Repub­li­cans for rush­ing Bar­rett onto the court days before a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, after hav­ing side­lined for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma’s nom­i­na­tion of Mer­rick Gar­land to the court for near­ly nine months in 2016 on grounds it was a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion year.

John Thune, R‑South Dako­ta, said: “Judge Bar­rett brings a clear under­stand­ing of the prop­er role of a judge. She under­stands that the job of a judge is to inter­pret the law, not make the law… or, as [she] said in an answer to a sen­a­tor’s ques­tion, ‘I apply the law. I fol­low the law. You make the pol­i­cy.’ As [she] made clear in her hear­ing, she will be the kind of jus­tice who leaves her per­son­al beliefs and polit­i­cal opin­ions at the court­room door.”

Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader Chuck Schumer, D‑New York, said: “Con­firm­ing a life­time appoint­ment this late into a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion sea­son is out­ra­geous. It is even more galling, of course, because [Repub­li­cans] refused to even con­sid­er the Supreme Court nom­i­na­tion of a Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­dent on the grounds of the principle…that we should wait until after the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion because the Amer­i­can peo­ple deserved a voice in the selec­tion of their next justice.”

A yes vote was to con­firm Bar­rett as the 115th jus­tice of the Supreme Court.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

HOLDING BARRETT VOTE BEFORE ELECTION: Vot­ing 53 for and 46 against, the Sen­ate on Octo­ber 25th blocked a Demo­c­ra­t­ic motion for adjourn­ment until after Novem­ber 3rd so that the Amy Coney Bar­rett con­fir­ma­tion vote would not occur before Amer­i­cans have cho­sen their next president.

Don­ald Trump announced the nom­i­na­tion on Sep­tem­ber 26th and the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee sent it to the full cham­ber on Octo­ber 22nd. A yes vote was to put Bar­rett on the court before results are known from the pres­i­den­tial election.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

LWIC will be on hiatus next Sunday

Con­gress will be in recess this week due to the end of vot­ing in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. It is expect­ed to recon­vene on Novem­ber 9th.

Edi­tor’s Note: The infor­ma­tion in NPI’s week­ly How Cas­ca­di­a’s U.S. law­mak­ers vot­ed fea­ture is pro­vid­ed by Votera­ma in Con­gress, a ser­vice of Thomas Vot­ing Reports. All rights are reserved. Repro­duc­tion of this post is not per­mit­ted, not even with attri­bu­tion. Use the per­ma­nent link to this post to share it… thanks!

© 2020 Thomas Vot­ing Reports.

Friday, October 30th, 2020

NPI’s 2020 October elections survey provides a rich political portrait of Washington State

NPI’s recent statewide sur­vey of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers has afford­ed wel­come relief from all those cable tele­vi­sion pun­dits jab­ber­ing about Geor­gia and Flori­da, while refus­ing to ven­ture a pre­dic­tion that might come back to bite them.

Alas, the sur­vey, con­duct­ed by NPI’s long­time part­ner Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling, has unnerved the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty and the state’s pro­gres­sive move­ment with its find­ing that incum­bent Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruc­tion Chris Reyk­dal was gar­ner­ing just thir­ty per­cent and lead­ing Maia Espinoza, who would gov­ern as our own local ver­sion of Bet­sy DeVos, by only sev­en points.

The Democ­rats have launched an eleventh hour res­cue of Reyk­dal, a for­mer Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­is­la­tor, com­bin­ing email mis­sives with a per­sua­sive, upbeat TV spot. The voice of Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal (D‑7th Dis­trict) in praise of Reyk­dal, fol­lowed me up to the study.

But NPI’s sur­vey, the only pub­lic poll to look far down­bal­lot this year, has a wider val­ue: it pro­vides a polit­i­cal self-por­trait of this cor­ner of the “Left Coast”.

Briefly a “pur­ple” state at the start of the cen­tu­ry – George W. Bush read from “The Very Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar” in Span­ish to Yaki­ma school kids – Wash­ing­ton has become reli­ably blue and is singing the Trump blues.

Sports colum­nists and polit­i­cal ana­lysts are into the game of “Six Take­aways” these days, so let me do that with NPI’s findings.

Comprehensive sexual health education is popular

Wash­ing­ton is a sec­u­lar state. Hope spring eter­nal in the bosoms of the reli­gious right, but Wash­ing­to­ni­ans have a strong tra­di­tion of sup­port­ing pri­va­cy, the right to do your thing, and both free­dom of and free­dom from religion.

Such out­fits as the Fam­i­ly Pol­i­cy Cen­ter forced a 2009 ref­er­en­dum after the Leg­is­la­ture legal­ized same-sex part­ner­ships. They lost.

They forced a vote in 2012 on mar­riage equal­i­ty. They lost spec­tac­u­lar­ly, with the last­ing visu­al image of Catholics for Mar­riage Equal­i­ty putting five hun­dred demon­stra­tors on the lawn of St. James Cathedral.

Arch­bish­op Sar­tain was preach­ing against what he called gay “mar­riage.”

The same result is like­ly this year with sex edu­ca­tion. Repub­li­cans are run­ning on their oppo­si­tion. But NPI/PPP found fifty-six per­cent in favor of Ref­er­en­dum 90, approv­ing sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion, with just thir­ty-three per­cent opposed.

Democrats are well positioned to win most executive races

The Repub­li­can Par­ty has a base in Wash­ing­ton, just not a home base.

Repub­li­can guber­na­to­r­i­al hope­ful Loren Culp comes in at forty per­cent, Attor­ney Gen­er­al hope­ful Matt Larkin at thir­ty-nine per­cent. The Repub­li­cans’ attrac­tive 2016 guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Bill Bryant came in just over forty-five percent.

The base is in East­ern Wash­ing­ton, Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton and South­west Wash­ing­ton. The Repub­li­cans can’t get to first base in Cen­tral Puget Sound pop­u­la­tion cen­ters. On rare occa­sion, like with Tim Eyman’s Ini­tia­tive 976, the right can win with what was called the “boa con­stric­tor strat­e­gy in the Slade Gor­ton era, sur­round­ing and squeez­ing pop­u­lous King County.

No deal this year.

Only Sec­re­tary of State Kim Wyman reg­is­ters high­er, lead­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Gael Tar­leton (an NPI board­mem­ber) by a six point mar­gin, with forty-nine per­cent to Tar­leton’s forty-three per­cent. Repub­li­cans have held the posi­tion of Sec­re­tary of STate since 1965, treat­ing it like an entitlement.

The Repub­li­cans’ oth­er statewide office­hold­er, State Trea­sur­er Duane David­son, trails Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Mike Pel­lic­ciot­ti by a ten point mar­gin, and is like­ly a goner. Pel­lic­ciot­ti pre­vailed in the August Top Two election.

Donald Trump is the anvil atop the Republican ticket

Don­ald Trump is a death star for Wash­ing­ton Repub­li­cans, and is like­ly to leave behind scorched earth on which it will be dif­fi­cult to get any­thing to grow.

Trump trails Joe Biden by twen­ty-three point mar­gin in NPI’s sur­vey, and has a six­ty per­cent job dis­ap­proval rat­ing in the Ever­green State.

The per­cent­age who dis­ap­prove climbs to sev­en­ty-two per­cent in pop­u­lous King Coun­ty, home to Seat­tle and Belle­vue and their sub­urbs. Only in East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton does the incum­ben­t’s approval-dis­ap­proval rat­ing break even.

Bill Bryant out­ran Trump by more than 220,000 votes in 2016.

Ask Bill and he will give you the exact fig­ure. Still, he took just under thir­ty-three per­cent of the vote in King Coun­ty. A trio of Repub­li­cans on the 2020 bal­lot – Wyman, Larkin and Culp – run ahead of Trump in NPI’s survey.

How will the Repub­li­cans ever climb out of their hole if the par­ty base in Wash­ing­ton con­sists of a “Trump rump”? Con­sid­er all the con­stituen­cies, many of them grow­ing, who are exclud­ed from such a base.

King Coun­ty has become, in a gen­er­a­tion, the Democ­rats’ heart­land in Wash­ing­ton, usu­al­ly joined by grow­ing (pop­u­la­tion 839,000) Sno­homish Coun­ty. The pol­l’s fig­ures on Trump job approval tell much of the sto­ry. So does the absence of a Repub­li­can “bench” in the state’s most pop­u­lous county.

The Trump approval fig­ures for North Puget Sound and South Puget Sound indi­cate that, to find the Repub­li­can “base,” you must trav­el one hun­dred miles north of Seat­tle (to Fer­n­dale or Lyn­den), nine­ty miles south (to Cen­tralia-Chelalis) or cross the Cas­cade Range to Cen­tral and East­ern Washington.

The last Repub­li­can state leg­is­la­tors in exur­ban east King County’s 5th Dis­trict were beat­en in 2018, while even in 2016, two King/Pierce Coun­ty House seats in the 30th Dis­trict flipped and Demo­c­ra­t­ic State Sen­a­tor Claire Wil­son was elect­ed to the Sen­ate in 2018, turn­ing out Mark Milos­cia. At the same time, Democ­rats flipped the 47th Dis­trict, elect­ing Mona Das and Debra Enten­man. Repub­li­cans do still have three peo­ple on the “non­par­ti­san” coun­ty coun­cil; but that’s about it.

State Supreme Court races don’t get much attention

Wash­ing­ton vot­ers don’t tune in to State Supreme Court races.

Raquel Mon­toya-Lewis and G. Helen Whiten­er, appoint­ed to the high court by Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee, reg­is­ter at just twen­ty-one and twen­ty-two per­cent sup­port in NPI’s Octo­ber sur­vey. Oppo­nents David Larsen and Richard Serns are below twen­ty per­cent. Still, those fig­ures were high­er than what NPI found last spring.

A lot of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers guess in their court picks. Famil­iar-sound­ing names car­ry an advan­tage. Racism reared its ugly head when a non­de­script oppo­nent beat Jus­tice Steve Gon­za­lez in sev­er­al East­ern Wash­ing­ton counties.

The result: Last minute cam­paigns, under­writ­ten by lumi­nar­ies of the state bar, are often need­ed to bail out qual­i­fied candidates.

NPI alert­ed KIRO’s Essex Porter to the need for cov­er­age of Gon­za­lez’s most recent reelec­tion, in which he was opposed by con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist Nathan Choi; Porter’s crew sub­se­quent­ly filmed Choi run­ning away from Porter on the street.

Or, as in 2016, a heavy-hand­ed right-wing smear cam­paign draws sup­port for judges being attacked. Soft-on-crime TV spots rarely work in Washington.

We’re all set for two more years of a Democratic trifecta

The Democ­rats’ lock on the state­house won’t get picked this year.

The state has elect­ed five suc­ces­sive Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nors, since Demo­c­rat and Wey­er­haeuser heir Booth Gard­ner oust­ed Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor John Spell­man in 1984. Inslee is seek­ing to become only the sec­ond Wash­ing­ton gov­er­nor, after the leg­endary Dan Evans, to win three suc­ces­sive terms.

Only one state comes close to Wash­ing­ton’s streak: its south­ern neighbor.

Oregon’s unbro­ken line­up of Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nors began in 1986 with elec­tion of for­mer Port­land May­or Neil Gold­schmidt. The Beaver State, at the time, had a tra­di­tion of elect­ing par­tial­ly pro­gres­sive Repub­li­cans to statewide office.

The cur­rent incum­bent, Gov­er­nor Kate Brown, hung on in 2018 despite heavy financ­ing of her oppo­nent by Nike founder Phil Knight.

Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty (Port­land) has become the Beaver State’s equiv­a­lent of our King Coun­ty, report­ing late with top-heavy Demo­c­ra­t­ic majorities.

A pair of admo­ni­tions to conclude.

A poll is a snap­shot in time. Time change. Wash­ing­ton has two pre­vi­ous three-term gov­er­nors, Dan Evans and Arthur Lan­glie. Both were Repub­li­cans. (Langlie’s tenure was inter­rupt­ed by one-term Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov­er­nor Mon­rad Wallgren.)

And NPI has hired itself an hon­est pollster.

Past sur­veys by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling detect­ed drops in Barack Obama’s job approval rat­ings ear­ly, as well as fore­shad­owed the “shel­lack­ings” (Obama’s words) that Democ­rats took in the 2010 and 2014 midterms.

Wash­ing­ton may tilt Demo­c­ra­t­ic, but vot­ers expect Democ­rats to gov­ern well, with majori­ties in both the Leg­is­la­ture and exec­u­tive depart­ment. The par­ty must deliv­er if it wants a steady dose of good news in the future.