Writings and observations

The polling was leaving Idaho Democrats breathless: That sea change they’ve been waiting for, for the last 14 years at least, seemed at hand, with polling that actually put several Democratic candidates for major office ahead of Republicans.

Now we have the actual votes, enough of them at least to tell that the sea has not changed.

At this writing, only about half of the precincts are in. (Canyon County, notoriously late in last May’s primary, is late coming in again. And so Bannock, and some others.) But the vote distribution seems generally broad enough to draw some conclusions, starting with this: The two big races on which Democrats had pinned their highest hopes, for governor and for the 1st district U.S. House seat, appear to be going to the Republicans, C.L. “Butch” Otter and Bill Sali.

And that is true despite a long string of advantages that appeared to play to Democrats’ favor: A terrible national atmosphere for Republicans (a very good night for Democrats nationally), big problems in the campaigns of the Republicans, campaigns by the Democrats that were played smartly, issues that played to the Democrats’ advantage, and much more. But Republicans in Idaho have massive institutional advantages at this point, and a lot of people in the state simply cannot conceive of wanting to vote for a Democrat. And they didn’t.

Nor (based on the most recent results) did they win the race for superintendent of public instruction, or for state controller, and in both cases they seemed to have some unusual advantages. In the latter, strong endorsements from industry groups and even Republicans like Frnak Vander Sloot of Idaho Falls; none of that matters, evidently, nearly as much as party identification.

There are specks of light for the Democrats. On the legislative front, they did make – as we suspected they would – substantial progress in the districts of the city of Boise, taking all three seats in the three most urban of the Boise legislative districts, and two of three seats in another (apparently – results were not yet final on that one). Boise seems en route to becoming a Democratic city, a trend evident in the 2004 elections and clearer now.

As for inroads elsewhere . . . there were a few. Results were incomplete in some cases, though Democrats do appear to have won a smattering of other races.

We’ll come back to all this.

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Idaho

The polling was leaving Idaho Democrats breathless: That sea change they’ve been waiting for, for the last 14 years at least, seemed at hand, with polling that actually put several Democratic candidates for major office ahead of Republicans.

Now we have the actual votes, enough of them at least to tell that the sea has not changed.

At this writing, only about half of the precincts are in. (Canyon County, notoriously late in last May’s primary, is late coming in again. And so Bannock, and some others.) But the vote distribution seems generally broad enough to draw some conclusions, starting with this: The two big races on which Democrats had pinned their highest hopes, for governor and for the 1st district U.S. House seat, appear to be going to the Republicans, C.L. “Butch” Otter and Bill Sali.

And that is true despite a long stirng of advantages that appeared to play to Democrats’ favor: A terrible national atmosphere for Republicans (a very good night for Democrats nationally), big problems in the campaigns of the Republicans, campaigns by the Democrats that were played smartly, issues that played to the Democrats’ advantage, and much more. But Republicans in Idaho have massive institutional advantages at this point, and a lot of people in the state simply cannot conceive of wanting to vote for a Democrat. And they didn’t.

Nor (based on the most recent results) did they win the race for superintendent of public instruction, or for state controller, and in both cases they seemed to have some unusual advantages. In the latter, strong endorsements from industry groups and even Republicans like Frnak Vander Sloot of Idaho Falls; none of that matters, evidently, nearly as much as party identification.

There are specks of light for the Democrats. On the legislative front, they did make – as we suspected they would – substantial progress in the districts of the city of Boise, taking all three seats in the three most urban of the Boise legislative districts, and two of three seats in another (apparently – results were not yet final on that one). Boise seems en route to becoming a Democratic city, a trend evident in the 2004 elections and clearer now.

As for inroads elsewhere . . . there were a few. Results were incomplete in some cases, though Democrats do appear to have won a smattering of other races.

We’ll come back to all this.

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Idaho

Oregon Democrats have an almost unalloyed night to celebrate. They didn’t win everything; after an emotional sendoff to Aghanistan on Saturday, for example, they watched promising newcomer (to legislative politics) lose to veteran Republican Jackie Winters.

But they didn’t lose much else.

Ted Kulongoski
Ted Kulongoski

That Governor Ted Kulongoski won re-election was no great surprise. But that he appears to be holding steady at over the 50% mark – leading Republican Ron Saxton by about eight points – must come as an especially sweet win. He can’t be accused, any longer, of being a default governor – the winner only because the Republicans nominated a weak candidate – Saxton was sold as the strongest the Republicans had, and the strongest the party had fielded in many years. And he can’t be said to be governor only because of a split in the conservative vote; a majority win is a clear endorsement.

It also says something, as do a bunch of races this evening, about the impact of money in politics – that, in short, it doesn’t have to be decisive. Saxton and his backers outspent Kulongoski and his backers by nearly two to one. And see what it got them.

Democrats just held even in the state Senate, but they appear to have won the House – looks that way from the results we have at this point. (As matters sit, we’re counting 31 Democrats winning House seats – but a couple are very close, and not all the ballots are in.) The sweetener here: The apparent defeat of House Spaker Karen Minnis, who outspent her opponent about two to one, with a record-breaking million-dollar budget.

Question: Where do Republicans in Oregon go from here?

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Oregon

Here in the Northwest, early indications are that this region will mirror many of the early returns elsewhere in this country this evening: Strong results for Democrats, intermixed with some close losses.

We’ll be reporting back shortly, but a few early indications jump out.

In Oregon, the early results give Democrat Ted Kulongoski 56% of the vote. A whole lot of the rural part of the state has yet to emerge, and this reflects a big chunk of Lane county (Eugene area); still, he’s in a good place at this point.

Among legislative races, we’ve heard of one result that will upend some expectations (including today’s Punditology results) – in Oregon House District 24, Democrat Sal Perlata looks poised to defeat Rebublican incumbent Donna Nelson.

Some early indications: Most of the ballot issues (including the spending and term limits issues) show signs of failing. Unclear yet as to the number of Democratic seats in the Oregon House.

No immediate surprises in Washington, with a lead in the Senate race by Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell. Not enough information on the critical 5th and 8th district races to say much at this point.

And results in Idaho are too preliminary as well for substantial judgement.

Back soon with more.

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In the three states of the Northwest, the magic – or witching – hour is 8 p.m. That’s when the polls close and, soon after, numbers start to roll. (In Idaho, where most people are in Mountain Time, numbers usually do not much roll until
9 p.m. Mountain time, in consideration for the people up north whose voting deadline is an hour later.)

polling place image - Washington Secty State officeWe will, of course, be getting a sense of the national trends before that, since many eastern polls will be closing around 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. Northwest time.

Expect that Oregon numbers will be among the first out; its vote counting procedures allow the count to begin on Tuesday well before the polls close. (And remember, only ballot in the hands of county officials by 8 p.m. today will count – in contrast to Washington, where a Tuesday postmark traditionally has sufficed.) Of some interest: With its new heavy reliance on mail voting, how early will be the Washington votes?

Of course, be sure to check back here: As per usual, we will be tracking results mostly on line. In between a short TV appearance and a stop at a political event, our regular stops this evening will include:

IDAHO

  • The Secretary of State’ s office did a fine job of updating on primary election night; it’s our top stop in the Gem State.
  • KTVB-TV traditionally has some of the best and fastest election night results in the state.
  • The Idaho Statesman will have information posted on its front page.
  • In eastern Idaho, try KIFI-TV.

OREGON

WASHINGTON

A VIEW FROM CONGRESS Also, this could be interesting: Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) says he plans to blog regularly during election night. Could be interesting to pull the take from his angle.

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We on this site usually don’t get into flat predictions, preferring to deal in odds and probability for events which haven’t yet occurred. But for those interested in predictions – something to tide you over till polls close, Punditology has just the thing.

Around Oregon 346 politically involved and interested people filled out a survey on Monday on how they think the election will go (not to be confused with what they’d prefer), in Oregon. It seems to be the largest and most detailed late-date prediction set in the region, and it probably does constitute a late-game conventional wisdom. Check it out, and then this evening watch it get variously upheld and overturned.

OTHERS David Postman’s Seattle Times blog offers a prediction contest, and some commentary is attached in comments. A thread of Idaho predictions can be found at the Democratic Red State Rebels.

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