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4. Lack of party loyalty in the West:
Speaking of third parties, they continue to do best, on the whole, in the West. Based on returns thus far, third-party presidential candidates drew 1.69 percent of the national vote. But in 11 states, third party candidates drew double that national average or better:
North Dakota 2.99
Note that five of those 11 states are in the Great Nearby — the Pacific Northwest region already well-known for its high percentage of "nones," that is people who belong to no organized religion or church. Same seems to be true in politics. Voters in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana are much more likely than the national average to throw their support to alternative candidates. In Washington, this included Libertarian Gary Johnson, the Green Party's Jill Stein, and the conservative Constitution Party's Virgil Goode.
Another tidbit: Even in Washington's most conservative counties, like Columbia, Garfield, and Lincoln, a socialist presidential candidate received at least one vote, and in some cases more. At the micro-level, even the state's reliably red counties are, well, a little bit red — in the old, Cold War War meaning of that term.
5. Maintaining a tradition, breaking a barrier:
In Washington, much has been made about the fact that Jay Inslee's victory over McKenna means that the state GOP will have to defer its dreams of returning to the Governor's Mansion for another four years. The last Republican governor in Washington was John Spellman, elected in 1980. But they can console themselves with keeping an even longer lock on another statewide office: Secretary of State, which has been held by a Republican since Ludlow Kramer was elected in 1964 (the chain is Kramer, Bruce Chapman, Ralph Munro, Sam Reed). But there was also progress: Kim Wyman will be the first woman to hold the office. She also becomes the first Secretary of State since the '64 election who did not serve in some capacity during the Dan Evans administration!
Why has the Secretary of State's office become a Republican stronghold? One reason is because for some time, its occupants have put the job above partisanship. Lud Kramer gained fame for being one of the first state Republican elected officials to openly criticize President Richard Nixon during Watergate; Munro was well-known for behind-the-scenes bipartisanship, and Reed gained respect, from Democrats anyway, for his handling of the disputed Rossi-Gregoire contest of 2004. Another might be that the office is one where traditional, though not exclusively Republican, principles prevail. In addition to overseeing elections, the SOS is in charge of stewarding Washington's memory by managing the vital state archives and, because of Reed's desire to save an important institution from the axe, the state library. The job is conserving, and instinctual, traditional conservatives ought to be pretty good at that.
6. So much for newspaper endorsements:
Newspaper endorsements seemed to have little impact in the governor's race, where the state's major newspapers were nearly unanimous (save for The Olympian) in endorsing McKenna over Inslee. While McKenna won the endorsement war, he lost the race. And that was even with the extra-special Seattle Times ad campaign on his behalf that was designed to prove how effective the Times is as a political ad medium. Oops. McKenna, of course, did not even win the Times' home county, King, hardly unexpected.
Many of the McKenna-endorsing newspapers were in counties that traditionally vote Republican, so they likely reflected the majority opinion of their readers. But how did gubernatorial newspaper endorsements do in counties that might have swung? Well, the Everett Herald also endorsed McKenna but Inslee won Snohomish County anyway. The Aberdeen Daily World backed McKenna, but Gray's Harbor county went with Inslee. The Kitsap Sun in Inslee's home county endorsed McKenna, and Inslee was just barely edged there — the endorsement might have made a difference. The Tacoma News-Tribune endorsed McKenna who won narrowly in Pierce County, so their editorial might have made a difference as well.
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