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Posts published in February 2008

Two campaigns, two sets of numbers

Last night, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrived at Pier 30 in Seattle for a late-added campaign appearance. It was successful, and enthusiastic, drawing about 5,000 people.

After that start, she hit another event this morning at Tacoma, speaking at the University of Puget Sound to health and nursing students and others on health care. Again, she did more than respectably, drawing close to 5,000 people to her appearance, with local names like former Governor Gary Locke and Senator Maria Cantwell in tow. She put in a solid day's worth of campaigning in Washington; after some early indicators that she might forget about this caucus state, she wound up making a serious personal effort.

Then there was her opponent, Barack Obama, who has a shorter list of endorsees, and made just one appearance (though his wife Michelle was scheduled to appear also in Spokane).

He was set to speak at the KeyArena at 1 p.m. By 11, all 17,000 seats were filled (some reports have it higher), and thousands more people were in line trying to get in. (Obama eventually spoke as well to about 10,000 people who were outside in the cold.) And when the event started, it featured a dramatic endorsement of Obama by Washington's most visible till-now holdout in the primary - Governor Chris Gregoire.

Numbers from the campaign, less than a day before caucus time.

Preventative?

Aday after largely locking down the Republican presidential nomination, John McCain schedules himself for a stop in - Washington? What would be the reason for that?

Maybe to keep his two remaining, but smaller-scale, opponents - Mike Huckabee nd Ron Paul - from scoring any sort of a PR win. McCain has his hands full trying to avoid rebellion among some categories of conservatives; he now needs to keep his win, won.

The campaign says the "meet & greet" is tomorrow at the downtown Seattle Westin at 6 p.m., press setup most of an hour prior to.

ID: Replacing Romney

Virtually the whole of Idaho's Republican Party, an overwhelming roster of its top elective and party officials, was lined up behind former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney - he'd have had the state in the primary bag if he'd lasted till May. As it is, the field has narrowed to Arizona Senator John McCain with an an overwhelming (probably uncatchable) lead, with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Representative Ron Paul still out there. So what's an Idaho Republican to do?

Bst guess here is that they follow the lead of Lieutenant Governor Jim Risch - a loyal Romney man till now - and switch over to McCain, he being the presumptive nominee.

But we do couch that as a best guess. McCain isn't quite an Idaho kinda Republican - at least not as Idaho Republicans can be reasonably described in this decade. (A decade two or three ago may be another story.) Kevin Richert of the Idaho Statesman has collected some of the many anti-McCain blasts from around the area. One such is from social conservative Bryan Fischer, who based his around the re-nicked "Good-bye Old Party."

Will be curious to see if some block of Idaho Republicans (the Steven Thayn crowd, for example) throw in with Huckabee, or maybe if Ron Paul actually picks up a little more steam. Overall, though, the ever-pragmatic Risch probably is a good indicator most of the establishment will, albeit unenthustically, migrate to McCain.

Who replaces Hooley?

Darlene Hooley

Darlene Hooley

Representative Darlene Hooley's surprise announcement this morning that she's not running for re-election gives Oregon something it hasn't had for years: A truly wide open U.S. House contest.

There didn't seem to be any very specific impetus for the announcement. She said her health was good (a consideration at 68). She has won her last few races convincingly - though not overwhelmingly, her last win clocking in at about 54% - and looked in strong shape for this year. Her campaign treasury has an ample $467,540 on hand.

But her departure is a national rarity this year: A Democratic retirement from a seat that credibly could wind up in the hands of either party. But she pointed out specifically, in early news reports, that this year would be a good time politically - for her party - for a change, since 2008 looks like a strong Democratic year. She may be right that the timing tilts the field a bit.

So what's the picture in the Oregon 5th?

Oregon 5th

Look at the map and the first thing that jumps out is its odd shape, what with the two coastal counties (which tend Democratic) and the remote areas to the east in the Cascades (which tend more Republican). But the core of this district is close to Interstate 5, from the southern edge of Portland in the north down the road through and south of Salem. The bulk of the voters are in western Clackmas County, within a few miles of the Lake Oswego-West Linn-Oregon City-Canby/Wilsonville area, and a few miles to the south, clustered around Salem. (more…)

WA: Next up

Now that Super Tuesday is over, you may be wondering (or you may be avoiding wondering) what's coming next. This from the front web page of the Washington state Democrats may help enlighten:

Event update:
- Barack Obama will visit Seattle on Friday
- Bill Clinton will visit Seattle on Thursday, Tacoma on Saturday
- Michelle Obama will visit Spokane on Friday.

One other report has Bill Clinton in Spokane as well. All this is not, obviously, coincidental or random. Washington's party caucuses - both Republicans and Democrats - convene at 1 p.m. on Saturday. These will be precinct caucuses (as in Iowa) rather than county caucuses (as in Idaho), and the results from them will be used to select the presidential nominees. There is a presidential primary on February 19, and state officials are encouraging participation in it, but it will not count toward the Democratic nomination, and only in part toward the Republican.

On the Republican side, Arizona Senator John McCain probably enters the process as the likely winner. He has some military-related base in Washington, and neither of his (still current) opponents, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, have in Washington the demographics that have worked well for them elsewhere.

That said, the Seattle Times suggests this: "On the Republican side, Sen. John McCain — the biggest winner Tuesday — still has no paid staff in Washington and no plans to come here before the GOP caucuses. Instead, his campaign appears more focused on the state's Feb. 19 primary, where he has a better chance of pulling in independent voters. Could that open the door in Washington for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who had a surprisingly strong showing Tuesday? Or could this be the state where former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney revives his sagging campaign?"

Meaning, might we see a last-minute push from Romney or Huckabee? So far, no indications of Republican candidate campaign stops in Washington this week; but that could yet happen.

On the Democratic side, Obama has been organizing in Washington for some months, and Clinton's efforts have been visible but less deeply organized - a loose parallel to what happened in Idaho and other caucus states where Obama has done well. And they've been at it a while. Almost exactly a year ago today, a nascent Obama organization in Seattle touted a meetup for more than 100 organizers, and said "the Seattle Meetup for Obama has grown to over 150 members and is now the largest chapter of its kind in the country . . ." It has grown considerably since then, and it has an impressively long list of activities and events planned in the next few days. There are also a bunch of county Obama organizations. (Check the Whatcom County site, for example.) And Obama has endorsements from the dailies in Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver.

At Horse's Ass, Goldy's take on this: "The challenge for Obama supporters is not simply to win this Saturday but to win big, which in a caucus scenario requires both turnout and persuasion. "

Clinton has some solid pluses too, including the superior roster of big-name endorsees - Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, former Governor Gary Locke, Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen, Representatives Norm Dicks and Jay Inslee, King County Executive Ron Sims and Snohomish Executive Aaron Reardon. (Most of these, by the way, are superdelegates.) States with a strong and long-evolved Democratic structure have done better for Clinton, and Washington is one of those. And Paul Berendt, a former state Democratic chair newly on the Clinton team, describes in Washington "a profound feminist ethic in our Democratic politics" which could help the New York senator.

The Washington state Democrats did conduct a straw poll from November 29 to December 14, but it's not much help in figuring this out. First place in it went to Dennis Kucinich, now out of the race, with 1,083 votes, and second place to John Edwards, now out, with 1,042. (They did a good organizing job for the straw, you gotta admit.) Obama got 960 and Clinton 761 - so, no results we can really draw to here.

Idaho was a definitive sweep. Washington looks tilted to Obama - the odds seem to be with him - but the state still has the look of something that will be hard-fought, not swept.

The size and the disposition

Some followup on initial thoughts about the Idaho caucuses, mainly expanding on the two obvious points: The Obama unanimity, and the sheer size of the turnout. (Full numbers are at the state Democratic web site.)

bullet The sweep for Illinois Senator Barack Obama was overwhelming. He took 43 of Idaho's 44 counties, and the one lost - Lewis, in the north-central - is one of the smallest. (No obvious answers to that outlier, other than that Lewis is unusual in that it is small, remote, rural and still has a substantial local Democratic core, which may retain some loyalty to the Clinton Administration.)

Among larger counties, the Obama percentages were remarkably consistent, many in the 70-85% range - Ada 84.5% (district 1 at 84%, and 2 at 87%), Canyon 76%, Kootenai 81%, Latah 80%, Nez Perce 71%, Bonneville 78%, Twin Falls 74%. Bannock would have to be considered on the low end, with just 68% in the Obama column.

Apart from Lewis, the best Hillary Clinton numbers came in some of the mid-population or smaller farm counties which have strong Hispanic populations - Lincoln (43%), Jerome (42%), Bear Lake (42%), Franklin (37%), Minidoka (36%), Washington (36%), Camas (36%). And Shoshone County (43% Clinton), which like Lewis has a still-in-place local Democratic establishment.

bullet Stats from 2004 and earlier aren't readily available - we'll try and find some - but it certainly seems as if the more than 21,000 participants in the Tuesday Idaho caucuses blew well past anything the state had seen from Democrats before.

The reasons are less clear. Some of it may have been support for Obama. Some of it may have been a party switch, or increased involvement on the part of independents. Whichever, this will call for some ongoing inquiry.

We fielded a question from D.C. this morning to the effect: Does the high turnout in Idaho caucuses portend a voter shift in November? Our thought is that point shouldn't be pushed too far - while more than 20,000 participants packed the caucuses, the voting population in November may top 650,000, so this still is only a small percentage of that.

But it doesn't feel irrelevant, either.

Early in Idaho

If you're looking for stats from the Idaho Democratic presidential caucuses, the place to go is the state party's results page, nearly done and well broken-out. For liveblogging from the scene, check out the Idaho Statesman's Kevin Richert's blog and expect more at Red State Rebels as well.

But the core point is that the predictions (here among other places) that Obamamania would sweep Idaho have proven out; Barack Obama will take nearly all of Idaho's national convention delegates, with the outside possibility that he gets them all. Early reports are of electricity in the Obama caucuses. Obama is stomping all comers in Idaho, and that's no surprise.

We'll be reviewing that results chart again soon, but for the moment an early indicator we were really struck by: A turnout of 212 Democrats to the caucus in Madison County (of which Obama won 82%). Madison County is Rexburg, folks, it's where contested Republicans oftentimes win 90% of the vote - one of the very reddest counties in one of the very reddest states. 212 people is not a whole lot fewer than Ada County (Boise) Democratic events attracted not so many years ago. And there were 115 in Lemhi County . . . for those of us who've watched Idaho politics over the years, that's breathtaking. And in little Teton County, total population about 7,500, a tightly competitive valley area, Democrats drew 275 caucusgoers - a real sizable chunk of the voting population, a genuinely stunning number.

Those stories from other states about Democrats blowing through old ceilings appear to be matched in Idaho.

Cash on hand leaders

In case the post below left you wondering, here are the dozen top U.S. House candidates in the Northwest (all in Washington and Oregon) in cash on hand as of the start of this year. You may note a pattern here.

WA 3 - Brian Baird, Democratic incumbent - $1,050,449
OR 2 - Greg Walden, Republican incumbent - $891,643
WA 1 - Jay Inslee, Democratic incumbent - $851,027
WA 7 - Jim McDermott, Democratic incumbent - $612,286
WA 8 - Darcy Burner, Democratic challenger - $607,143
OR 1 - David Wu, Democratic incumbent - $592,010
WA 6 - Norm Dicks, Democratic incumbent - $530,639
WA 2 - Rick Larsen, Democratic incumbent - $474,246
OR 5 - Darlene Hooley, Democratic incumbent - $467,540
OR 3 - Earl Blumnauer, Democratic incumbent - $465,453
WA 8 - Dave Reichert, Republican incumbent - $462,828
WA 9 - Adam Smith, Democratic incumbent - $415,841

The unlikely cash-poor

Dave Reichert

Dave Reichert

Bill Sali

Bill Sali

Republican incumbents in Congress are supposed to have fat campaign treasuries. At least, they almost always have. That's why this from the Politico site jumps out:

"The latest fundraising reports are a gut punch for this six-pack of GOP incumbents: Reps. Christopher Shays (Conn.), Dave Reichert (Wash.), John R. Kuhl (N.Y.), Tim Walberg (Mich.), Jean Schmidt (Ohio) and Bill Sali (Idaho). With the exception of Sali, all represent swing districts. But it’s also a blow to a House Republican conference that for years has prided itself on using aggressive fundraising tactics and mandates to make sure all of its incumbents held a significant money edge for their reelection."

You'll notice the two northwesterners here.

According to the newly-filed year-end reports, Sali has raised $297,802 in this cycle, and has $100,023 in cash on hand - a tiny sliver of what his campaign spent in 2006. Comparable numbers for Democratic candidate Walt Minnick are $410,353 and $311,168, and for Larry Grant $65,123 and $40,818. (No filings were listed for the third contender, Rand Lewis.)

In Washington's 8th district, the numbers are a little stronger for Reichert: $1,039,957 raised, $462,828 on hand. But his presumed Democratic challenger, Darcy Burner, isn't far off in cash raised, $874,271, and ahead in cash on hand, $607,143.

The Politico's quote from a Republican aide: “You’re going to see all these members in tough shape. You have all these seats out there that are so expensive because of the money we’ve put in in the past. We might not be able to save some of these guys that we brought back last time.”