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WA primary: On to November

Did the primary election results in Washington say a lot we didn’t already know about what to expect out of the November election?

Not a tremendous amount, although the results should give everyone some reason not to get comfortable.

In the Senate race, incumbent Democrat Patty Murray took 46% to Republican Dino Rossi‘s 34%. For Murray, her portion of the vote is less than she should have wanted; there’s a line of thought that anything under 50% for an incumbent in a generally open primary like this one is dangerous. Certainly the figure suggests some vulnerability. But Rossi’s task is formidable. While he will surely get a lot of the Republican vote that splintered off in other directions in this election, he’s also going to have to appeal powerfully to the independents. Rossi’s climb here is steeper than Murray’s, though both have some work to do.

In the U.S. House 3 race, which is open, Democrat Denny Heck led as expected with 31.5%, to Republican Jaime Herrera‘s 27.2%. If you add the votes from all the Democratic and all the Republican contenders together, though, you get 43% for the Democrats and 53% for the Republicans – which suggests an edge for Herrera. Balance that against financial and other structural advantages Heck has, and you get a highly competitive race. This one can truly go either way; a lot really will depend on how well each of these (highly polished and articulate) candidates, and their organizations, perform, not least in the area of November voter turnout.

One other factor should be considered: Most of the competition in these and other major races around Washington was on the Republican side, which may have helped inflate Republican turnout, compared to Democratic, a bit. How much? Hard to say.

Regional. Among the Republicans: Didier won just two counties, Benton and Franklin, doing well enough in the latter to give it to Murray in a Murray-Rossi faceoff. Which won’t happen in November. But check out the overall state map for the election and you’ll get a familiar-looking picture: Murray won a plurality or better in all counties west of the Cascades except Lewis, plus Spokane and Klickitat. Against a Republican unencumbered by splinter candidates, Murray likely cannot win as many. But then, she wouldn’t need so many to win. And she has an opportunity to pick up more votes in the Democratic precincts that didn’t turn out this time. Chances are good, for example, that she can improve on the 58% she got in King County today. (In 2008, Barack Obama got 70% there for president, and Democrat Chris Gregoire, running for governor against Rossi, took 63.9%.)

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