We're nudging the Crosscut Vote-O-Meter needle a half point to the red side today, following a close contest in trends, polls, and media coverage yesterday.
On the conservative side, there were three positive developments. One was news that former Gov. Dan Evans, a hero to moderates, was making robo-calls for Dino Rossi, thus helping fence-sitting independents to give Dino a more favorable look. A second was a tightening of the polls in the Oregon governor's race, with Republican Chris Dudley now up a whisker over former Gov. John Kitzhaber, who had led by 2-3 points during most of the past two weeks.
A third positive twist was the growing scandal over the role of Democratic mischief makers and Moxie Media in sneakily backing a Republican spoiler in a successful effort by labor unions in knocking Sen. Jean Berkey (D-38) out of her primary. This scandal has legs, and it undermines a main Democratic narrative in this election, namely that Republican moneybags are secretly stealing the election. Nor does the Moxie story help the reputation of unions, a major factor in framing this election.
Almost countering these developments were these factors favoring the liberals. One was a SurveyUSA poll in the Heck-Herrara race for the 3rd Congressional District, where Democrat Denny Heck has recently narrowed the gap with Republican Jaime Herrera to 50-46, pulling that race, which was seemingly in the bag for newcomer Herrera, 31, into a real contest.
The news is mixed in the Smith-Muri race, pitting 14-year incumbent Congressman Adam Smith (D-9) against Dick Muri, a Pierce County Councilmember who has raised very little money in the race and yet trails only 49-46. If Smith, a moderate, is in trouble, then many of the suburban belt Democrats must be; on the other hand, the margin is the same as five weeks ago.
Lastly, there is the amusing (therefore catchy) story about Justice Richard Sanders, the conservative maverick on the state Supreme Court, who was unendorsed by The Seattle Times after making remarks about blacks committing more crimes. Sanders naturally stands by his gaffe, deploring the political correctness of the newspaper that can't stand "the truth," keeping the story alive. The benefit for Democrats is the story helps black turnout, a key in many close races.