We asked our pundits to weigh in with their predictions for the general election, considering what can be discerned from the primary vote earlier this week in Washington state. Composing the Crosscut Index for this survey were Knute Berger, David Brewster, Jim Compton, Clark Fredricksen, Jerry Grinstein, Pete Jackson, Floyd McKay, Jeff Reifman, and Ted Van Dyk. We give you their consensus predictions in key races, and some reasons from the pundits.
Changed results, as more of our pundits weigh in: In Rematch 2008, Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi will lose to Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire by exactly 133 votes – or slightly more. Among the reasons for picking Rossi: the burgeoning budget deficit bust; Gregoire's broken promises on taxes, spending, and closing loopholes; the Obama change mantra souring public mood towards incumbents; echoes of 1964 (when Dan Evans defeated two-termer Al Rosellini). Big reasons to favor Gregoire: the Oh Boy! Obama Democratic tidal wave sweeping the state and the ticket, Obama as Gregoire's "running mate," her campaign's ability to rough up Rossi's image, and the fact that Rossi will have a tough time squeezing enough votes out of the smaller counties where he leads.
8th District Republican Congressman Dave Reichert will defeat Democratic candidate Darcy Burner, barely (now a very closely split prediction from the panel). Reasons: Incumbents who survive one scare usually coast next time, but the "get out with Obama turnout" and the close race favor Democratic challengers this year. Still, Reichert won in 2006, while many marginal and moderate Republicans did poorly. Reichert will also gain big from his strong (military) base in Pierce County. Plus, suburban ticket-splitters have no trouble with him, and he does well with soccer moms. As for Burner, some voters feel she has no real accomplishments in the past two years, except campaigning steadily and well.
Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna easily beats Democratic challenger John Ladenburg. Reasons: McKenna has a well-oiled state machine and is Mr. Smooth; his standing with independents went up when he sided with Gregoire on tribal licenses, though it did anger some Republicans. Ladenburg, meanwhile, seems like a pol, not an independent. He also comes off as too prosecutorial – sounding like Deborah Senn with a deep voice.
Democratic challenger Peter Goldmark will topple incumbent Republican Public Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland. The mood of the voters favors change, especially if you're a Democrat; Sutherland's mudslide issue tied him too closely with Weyerhaueser and big timber; and the voters are strongly green this year. It depends on whether Goldmark is willing to shamelessly show those images of mudsliding mountains, and also whether his environmental ties cost him votes in Eastern Washington. Still, Sutherland's hushed sexual harassment scandal will slide into voters' subconscious either way.
36th District House race: Democratic candidate Reuven Carlyle edges fellow Democrat John Burbank by a nose. Burbank is well known in the progressive community, and could find big numbers from Queen Anne voters, but he also tried (and failed) to enact a latte tax. Carlyle didn't. Advantage Carlyle. Carlyle also gets more of the area's small Republican vote (who have no kin to vote for in this top-two, all-Democratic final), and his tech-friendly, new-age image will pick up many of the younger voters coming out for Obama.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson defeats challenger Randy Dorn. Wait, Randy who? Despite Dorn's co-endorsement from the Seattle Times, Bergeson has name familiarity, which matters most for non-partisan races far down the ballot. Dorn will be seen as part of an attempt by teachers' unions to purge Olympia of WASL disciples, but the testing program has more supporters than the noisy complainers would have you believe. His hope is to demonstrate that Bergeson has been in office so long she's become an establishment hack. It won't work.
King County I-26, making the County Council non-partisan, will pass. Give voters a way to beat up on the King County Council, and they'll happily do so.