Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Looking at Washington

If there's one race where Democrats should make turnout their absolute top priority and see if the work of the Obama machine can be replicated when Obama's not on the ticket it's Washington.

Almost every major Senate race in the country this year has at least one candidate and sometimes both of them who are pretty unknown at this point. It makes sense in those races for the focus of the campaigns to be defining themselves and their opponents to the voters- the Rob Portmans and Lee Fishers and Pat Toomeys and Joe Sestaks of the world aren't real known and the perceptions that can be shaped of those candidates will go a long way toward determining who wins.

Washington's different though. Patty Murray and Dino Rossi both already have near 100% name recognition and it's going to be hard to change the feelings voters have about them after they've each already been through several major statewide campaigns. They're evenly divided in their feelings about Murray and feel slightly negatively toward Rossi. But the electorate is likely to skew more Republican this year than it did in either of Rossi's two losing campaigns for Governor, so that allows him to make up for his slight popularity gap.

Since voters in Washington already have their minds made up it really is, more than most races, just going to come down to who can turn out a bigger number of their voters. Murray has a much larger pool of potential voters to draw from but whether she can actually do it with the enthusiasm gap what it is is a different question. But I'd try to get some of the strongest Obama field people in Washington because it could be more critical there than just about anywhere else.

Democrats don't like Dino Rossi. He's getting virtually no support from people who voted for Barack Obama. He can't win without a major enthusiasm gap so if Murray closes that up she wins, end of story.

One other thing that needs to be noted on Washington: our preelection survey found supporters of Clint Didier and Paul Akers would go for Rossi 82-11 if he made it to the general election. That's overwhelming but it's also not 100-0 so don't expect that just because there were more Republican votes last night that there also will be in November. There won't be a ton of Didier and Akers supporters who defect but there could be enough to make a difference in what's looking like a 2-3 point race right now.


The Interesting Times said...

Did you poll the 2012 Republican Presidential primary in Washington?

DBL said...

Primary voters sometimes are so behind their guy that they vow not to vote for the opponent. This feeling largely dissipates by election day.

Based on curent totals Republicans beat Democrats by about 12,000 votes, with about 15,000 going to other parties. These could matter, since they can't vote for other parties in November.

Around 34,000 more people voted in the senate race than the congressional races. The congressional votes for third parties were almost triple those in the Senate vote.

This isn't surprising. Since a number of the congressional races are unlikely to be competitive, people feel more freedom to vote for a candidate of choice or not at all. Democrats got more votes than Republicans in the congressional races. Overall, however, 41,000 more people voted Republican in the senate race and only 19,000 voted Democratic. It's likely that more people voted for a Democrat for congress, but also voted for a Republican for Senate than vice versa.

This close to the election I doubt you'll see much change in the electorate. It'll likely come down to a few thousand votes and a few mysterious "new" boxes of ballots from Democratic areas.

Anonymous said...

Please answer the question above!!!

wt said...

And what should Rossi do to help him win the seat?

What, you're only giving out advice to one side?

Anonymous said...

I would agree with you (of which I generally don't) that Washington is one of only a few states, where a Democratic candidate can win in a highly contested race, as it now is. You're also right that the lines have already been drawn and there remains but a small percentage of undecideds out there that might otherwise influence the final tally. As such, I fully expect this race to be a close one, all the way to the end. Though I don't consider the enthusiasm gap to be as big a factor as what it might be in so many other states, I nonetheless, would have to give the edge to Dino Rossi in a close (by a nose) finish. But, of course, we'll see - won't we?

Anonymous said...

Nearly 320,000 total votes remain to be tallied in the Washington State primary and fully one-third of those are King County votes. The remaining are primarily from Pierce and Thurston Counties. Murray has picked up a full percentage since Tuesday evening and is expected to pick up another 2 points before the election is certified. That is why prognosticators is our state say Murray outperformed expectations and give her a 5 point edge now. I think 7 points is more likely.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Rossi will get an endorsement from Palin. That would drive up Democratic turnout.

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