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Posts published in “Day: November 5, 2008”

OR: Back of the envelope

Votes are counted till they're counted, which is making frustrating the slow count at Multnomah County. In the balance: A close U.S. Senate race, in which Republican incumbent Gordon Smith at present holds a narrow lead over Democrat Jeff Merkley.

If we're reading the count of vote not-yet-counted correctly, however, not all but the bulk of the remaining ballots still out are from Multnomah, where Merkley has been winning at a clip of 66.5%. If our back-of-envelope math is somewhere around right, that would suggest a Merkley win of somewhere are 20-30,000, and maybe a little higher.

There's a reason no one has conceded or claimed victory in this one yet (time at this writing: 12:07 p.m. Wednesday). But we may know soon.

ID 1: Minnick runs ahead

Walt Minnick
Walt Minnick

In this election, one of the most remarkable results in the northwest is this: Walt Minnick won.

It is a narrow win, and by many standards it shouldn't have been especially notable. Minnick was a good candidate, smart and personable, had run statewide before (in 1996 for the Senate) and learned from the experience, and his campaign was first-rate. Sali was regarded even by many Republicans as a not very strong legislator, and phrases like "brain fade" and "absolute idiot" have permeated. Sali's campaign has been in debt, was underfunded compared to Minnick's, and until the last few weeks seemed sluggish and low key.

And these all seem to be key factors, because Minnick's win wasn't like that of many other Democrats around the country: It's wasn't atmospheric, not part of the rolling Obama thunder. That's simple to say because Minnick's campaign stands out in Idaho as virtually the only thing to change in partisan politics in the state from two, four, six, eight, 10 years ago.

The Idaho Senate race took on numbers typical of that era - 58% Republican (Jim Risch), 34% Democratic (Larry La Rocco, despite running almost astonishingly hard and over so many months). 2nd District Representative Mike Simpson pulled 71%, about his normal number - no diminishing this year. Legislative numbers didn't budge; some Republicans who seemed endangered last time (like state Senators John Goedde, Joe Stegner and Lee Heinrich) cruised this time. Ada County Democrats did succeed - and it was a real success, in the face of determined Republican pushback - in holding on to the brace of legislative seats they won in 2006, a sign Boise is digging in as a blue city. But instead of winning a majority on the Ada County Commission, they lost what might have been their landmark race (with Democrat David Langhorst) and on top of that lost their incumbent Democratic commissioner (Paul Woods).

That's why Minnick's win is so remarkable. Narrow as it was, just over 3,000 votes over Sali, it stood in sharp relief to everything else in Idaho. And not only that, everything else for a period of years - it's been exactly a decade since the last major Republican official in Idaho lost to a Democrat (that would be Superintendent of Public Instruction Anne Fox, who lost to Marilyn Howard). Republican incumbent losses just don't happen in Idaho.

But it did this time. It's only the slimmest tint of purple, but all of a sudden Idaho is no longer pure blue.

WA: Gregoire beyond recount

Chris Gregoire
Chris Gregoire

Four years ago of Washington's 39 counties just eight - Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, King, Pacific, San Juan, Thurston, Whatcom - voted for Democrat Chris Gregoire for governor over Republican Dino Rossi. That race, as we all known, was a breathtaking photofinish.

This year's contest has the same two candidates but a different roster of counties, at least according to the partial results at the secretary of state's web site. The new rundown of Gregoire counties, as of today, is: Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan, Island, Snohomish, King, Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap, Mason, Clallam, Jefferson, Grays Harbor, Pacific, Clark and one actually on the east side of the Cascades, Spokane - 16 counties, twice as many.

The race was, and is, still fairly close at 53.5% Gregoire to 46.5% Rossi - the lead was narrower early in the evening and not easily callable until about now (and this is posted about 1 a.m. Wednesday). But it's not as close as last time, and there really can't be any notion that funny business in the King County elections office decided it.

Eric Ealing at Sound Politics remarked of it, "Before I even got to that one, I saw Obama over 60% in the county. That's a very bad sign. It shows a tide to severe to swim against. Outperforming the national ticket by nearly 7% in that big batch of votes is very good. The starting point, however, is very tough to overcome." And all that was a major factor, no doubt.

But so were other considerations. Gregoire has been a fairly effective governor. She campaigned harder and more effectively this time than last. Rossi had the advantage, last time, of being a fresh, new figure; this time, as good as he was as a campaigner (and he was good), he was still the guy who lost last time. Not his fault, but there it is.

Yet to see: Finals in the state's other great grudge match of the year, in House District 8 . . .