A red Halloween for the Vote-O-Meter

Mostly bad news for liberals and their causes, and the media narratives that might have touched off a rally seem to have played out.

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The Crosscut Vote-O-Meter

Mostly bad news for liberals and their causes, and the media narratives that might have touched off a rally seem to have played out.

Over the Halloween weekend, the tides were running orange if not red, pushing our needle a point and a half in that direction. It's getting awfully late for the liberal causes in this state, though there is some consolation.

Here are the red-favoring developments. One was the Wall Street Journal interview with retiring Third District Congressman Brian Baird, blasting the Pelosi leadership for its authoritarian ways, cramming through poorly considered health care and financial-reform legislation. Not the kindest thing for the maverick Democrat to do to help Denny Heck in that district, and the candid interview lent more weight to indications that even Democratic voters are clamoring for a change of direction by Team Obama.

Another surprise was polling to indicate how much young voters, charged up about Obama and politics two years ago, have retreated to apathy and a feeling of being unwanted by politicians. There goes another part of the Democratic coalition. These voters had expected to be summoned to help make change, but they feel the political ecosystem put together for the Obama campaign quickly withered, leaving them feeling abandoned.

Partly for this reason, nearly all of the tax-increase measures on the Washington ballot appear doomed, according to the most recent Washington Poll. Eyman's initiative to reinstate supermajority requirements for raising taxes looks likely to pass, the state income tax initiative is likely to fail, and the tax on candy, soda, and bottled water is heading for repeal. I-1100, privatizing liquor sales and opposed by most liberals since it reduces needed income, may squeak to victory.

Meanwhile, the main media narratives in the closing weekend did little to help Democrats in their hour of need. The Jon Stewart rally for "sanity" seems to have been mostly dismissed as a stunt, and it did little to sound moderate themes, as advertised. Gov. Gregoire's triumph in announcing two bids on the waterfront tunnel coming in under the ceiling price was turned into another round of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's civil war with the governor. For voters who could see the bid system working and progress being made there were probably an equal number turned off by the latest round of warfare.

Likewise, the Democratic narrative that large corporate interests were stealing the election with their secret donations keeps bumping up against the awkward reality that the three top unions (public employees, service workers, and teachers) have outspent the Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove and his secretive allies by almost $30 million. In turn, that spending advantage will somewhat minimize Democratic losses.

A loose consensus: Republicans will gain control of the House of Representatives, but not the Senate; Democrats will retain narrow control over Olympia; Republicans will gain one new seat in the state Congressional delegation, Jaime Herrara; Sen. Murray will likely survive; and the next session of the legislature will have many untested new members and less revenue to deal with a huge budget shortfall. Yikes!


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