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Election Day 2: Today's results will be key

Today (Nov. 3) will be a big day for sorting out winners and losers in Washington state, including Murray-v.-Rossi and control of the legislature.

The 2010 election has so far gone as expected: Republicans take the U.S. House, but not the Senate; Republicans make major gains in the Washington legislature but are, so far, short of winning majorities; Republicans Dave Reichert and Jaime Herrera win comfortably; and the races for the 2nd  Congressional District and the U.S. Senate are literally too close to call. 

Today (Nov. 3) will be Election Day 2 in Washington state, as 23 of 39 counties, including all the large counties, will count a significant number of ballots. In addition, the counties will report how many ballots they have received to this point, an absolutely critical statistic to factor in. By the time we go to bed tonight the picture will be much clearer than it is right now. 

As of 9 this morning, Dino Rossi trails Patty Murray by 14,000 votes. Clearly the advantage lies with Murray. But there are still good reasons to watch this very closely, and Pat Shortridge, the Rossi campaign manager, laid those out in an email to supporters today: 

  • Historically in Washington, Republican candidates improve their percentages in each county in votes counted after Election Day, usually improving their margins by 2 to 3 percentage points.
  • King County, which is providing most of Sen. Murray's margin, accounts for 30.7 percent of all registered voters in the state. According to county election reports, King County has only 26.7 percent of the remaining ballots left to count. The rest of the state, where Rossi has a comfortable lead, will count proportionately more ballots post-Election Day.
  • Spokane County, where Rossi is currently in the lead by more than 50 percent, still has at least 21.6 percent of the remaining ballots left to process, with more coming in.
  • Rossi is currently leading in Pierce County by nearly 2,500 votes.
  • According to the Secretary of State, there are still over 508,000 estimated ballots left to process statewide.

To win, Rossi must improve his percentages in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. King, where Rossi is currently receiving 38 percent of the vote, is especially critical. He needs to improve that percentage by at least 1.5 points to make the math work statewide. Again, we will know much more by the end of the day today.  

In the legislature both houses are still in play. Republicans appear to have captured Democratic seats in the 6th (Spokane), the 47th (Kent/Auburn), the 41st (Mercer Island/Bellevue), and the 45th (Redmond/Woodinville).  Three other races are essentially tied: 

  • In the 30th (Federal Way), Sen. Tracy Eide leads Republican Tony Moore by 352 votes.
  • In the  48th (Bellevue), Republican Greg Bennett leads Sen. Rodney Tom by 133 votes.
  • And in the 44th (Bothell), Sen. Steve Hobbs leads Republican Dave Schmidt by 8 votes.

If Republicans win all three of these cliffhangers they will take a 25-24 majority in the state Senate. 

On the House side, Republicans appear to have won 41 seats, Democrats 45 seats. There are 12 House races — all in seats currently held by Democrats — where the current leader has less than 52 percent of the vote, making them too close to call. Those Democratic seats are: 

  • Both open seats in the 1st (Shoreline).
  • The open seat in the 24th (Port Angeles).
  • Rep. Dawn Morrell's seat in the 25th (Puyallup).
  • Rep. Larry Seaquist's seat in the 26th (South Kitsap).
  • Both seats, Troy Kelley's and Tami Green's, in the 28th (Lakewood).
  • Kathy Haigh's seat in the 35th (Shelton).
  • Marcie Maxwell's in the 41st (Mercer Island).
  • Hans Dunshee's in the 44th (Bothell).
  • Roger Goodman's in the 45th (Redmond).
  • Ross Hunter's in the 48th (Bellevue).

Republicans need to take nine of these 12 in order to win a 50-48 majority. 

Stay tuned.  Today will be a big day.

Chris Vance is a public affairs consultant who lives in Auburn, Wash. He was chair of the Republican Party in Washington from 2001-06, a King County Council member from 1994-2001, and a state representative from 1991-93. He also blogs for Rob McKenna's Smarter Government Washington. He can be reached at cvapv@comcast.net.


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