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Posts published in “Washington”

Cantwell-McGavick polling

Presumption here is that Washington Democratic incumbent Senator Maria Cantwell starts with an edge - not overwhelming, but there - in her run for re-election next year against Republican SafeCo executive Mike McGavick.

Some confirmation comes from the new Rasmussen poll, wich outa her at 52% and him at 37%. His numbers are likely to improve as his name ID does in the months ahead, but an incumbent over 50% makes a challenger's job tough.

Upending K-R?

Washington and Idaho just finished a major newspaper ownership transfer, one of the biggest in a generation. Is it about to see a new one?

Knight RidderThe national backdrop is the decline in newspaper circulation, following a quarter-century of ever-tighter squeezing of profits out of newspapers. That is something the recent newspaper swap between Gannett Corporation and Knight-Ridder, which left the latter with the Boise Idaho Statesman, the Olympia Olympian and the Bellingham Herald, in addition to the 49% of the Seattle Times it already owned, did not address. But now Knight-Ridder's largest single shareholder is hitting it head on. (more…)

The state of abortion

There's no huge shock, but some food for thought, in the latest Survey USA state-by-state poll on abortion.

The question asked was whether the respondent considered himself or herself "pro-life" or "pro-choice." There are loads of objections to this approach, not least that attitudes on abortion in this country tend to be far more nuanced than that. But the effort to deliver a clean dividing line as a tool for political analysis.

Natonwide, SUSA said, 38% call themselves "pro-life," and 56% "pro-choice." In ranking the states, in just 13 states did the "pro-life" percentage outnumber "pro-choice." Utah came in first, which is no surprise.

Idaho was fourth, decisively so, 55% pro-life, 41% pro-choice. So decisive a pro-life lead is a little surprising, since the issue has not been a decisive winner at the polls. The last time it was a truly driving issue was in 1990, when the Idaho Legislature passed what would have been the strongest anti-abortion legislation in the country, only to see itself rebuked first by Governor Cecil Andrus' veto and then by Idaho voters, who gave the state's Democrats a sohrt moment of sunshine before the Republican lock set in two years later.

But - on the other hand - that was 15 years ago, and Idaho has changed a lot since. Has it become so much more socially conservative that the legislature's action, rejected in 1990, would be decisively upheld today? Maybe so.

Oregon and Washington scored almost identically in the SUSA survey, with 33% and 32% respectively calling themselves "pro-life," and 62% and 63% respectively self-described "pro-choice." Makes clear why the issue doesn't often come up in these states as a wedge; it wouldn't work very well.

In Tuesday's balloting, California voters rejected a proposal to require parental notification for abortion for a minor. (California's numbers: 28% pro-life, 65% pro-choice.) There has been talk about putting such an issue on the Oregon ballot in 2006. One suspects that after a review of the California results, and of polling information, that idea may go by the boards.

A new calculus

Two or three months ago hardly anyone was seriously entertaining the idea that I-912,which sought to roll back the Washington gas tax increases passed by the legislature this year, would fail. (Joel Connelly of the P-I entertained it, but didn't go so far as to suggest it likely.) Yet, here we are - 52% no, 48% yes, or thereabouts, with a pile of additional King County votes yet to materialize.

And where is that?

It amounts to a massive win for Governor Christine Gregoire, who helped engineer the deal and whose governorship was to an extent riding on the result. She might not have been crushed, exactly, by passage of the initiative, since passage of anti-tax initiatives in Washington have been such a recurrence. But the rejection of it is almost like the vote of confidence she didn't exactly get in the election a year ago. She did a Big Thing, a potentially unpopular thing, and now the voters have checked off on it.

The overall Democratic tenor of this election season nationally - Republicans have to look hard, with a microscope, to find much to celebrate in the Tuesday voting - may have contributed to all this. But such moods are unifying things, and form a web of interactions. King County Executive Ron Sims' strong re-election was a part of it. So too - there can be little doubt - the return to the Snohomish County Council of Democrat Dave Somers (a biologist), who lost his seat four years ago to, and has now defeated, Republican Jeff Sax (strongly supported by developers) - as cleanly ideological a contest as any in the Northwest this cycle.

There is a shift of mood here. Democrats will spend a few days celebrating it. Republicans, notably those in Washington (and who watched their party endorse the "sure-thing" I-912), have some pondering to do.

912 going down?

The list of political axioms which includes the notion, "You can't beat an anti-tax initiative in Washington state," may have to be revised.

The night is still a little early for flat predictions, but based on which counties are reporting in - and how they are reporting - the anti-gas tax initiative, I-912, looks poised for a loss. It passed in many of the rural and conservative counties, of course, but not all of them (Walla Walla?). It has failed in Shohomish, Jefferson, Thurston and a few others, and among King County absentee voters, which are about 15% of the total. The balance right now is very close, but the key is this: The big chunk of remaining votes coming in will come from King County, that 85% of precinct voters. And if they vote anything like the absentees did - and the absentees went 62% against 912 - then you can stick a fork in this initiative.

If it materializes that way, it will be a remarkable outcome which - together with the possibly-underestimated Sims win - could reshape Washington politics for the next cycle or two.

In Washington

First, some kudos to the Northwest liberal site Pacific NW Portal, which has some of the best local web election results reporting anywhere. Those guys have done a heck of a job this evening in keeping up with prompt results, and their approach should be emulated.

Now:

The marguee race here among candidates is for King County executive, where Republicans have been looking forward for a long time for their shot at Democrat Ron Sims. They really thought they had him this time, with his loss a year ago in the gubernatorial primary, problems in the elections office and other things. Turns out they didn't have him, though possibly the negative publicity about personal and ideological issues may have wound up hurting Republican challenger David Irons. But the Irons negatives shouldn't be allowed to become the whole story: Sims, simply, is strong here, as long as he runs for local office. He was tougher to beat this time than many Republicans wanted to admit - King County is majority Democratic, after all - and he will be tougher next time (if there is a next time) too.

The non-personal marquee race, I-912 (roads funding), showed it passing (meaning a defeat for the funding passage) in early returns, but many of those were from rural counties already expected to vote against. The jury is still out on that one.

More soon.

Election night

Be sure to check back in after the polls close this evening. We'll have review and analysis of the Northwest elections, starting as soon as the numbers arrive.

Snow!

This time last year Northwesterns were remarking on the dry autumn and the slow start to the snowpack. We lucked out then; the snowpack grew somewhat later in the season. But that was indeed getting lucky.

ODOT Siskiyou PassWe're off to a better start this season, although drivers are having to struggle. Siskiyou pass on the Oregon-California line has turned snowy and is turning icy; it may be a difficult drive the next few days. And until earlier today, Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascades east of Seattle was no pass at all - closed completely owing to a rockslide combined with heavy snowfall. Even now, only one lane each way is open, and it may stay that way for a while.

Still, as the saying goes, we need the water. Or certainly will next summer.

Strip club measurements

As a matter of politics, you'd think that strip clubs fall onthe minority side of the equation - a form of business that, if voters had the option of simply voting away, would be voted out.

And maybe so. But now comes the Seattle Citizens for Free Speech, which seeks to overturn by initiative the Seattle City Council's restrictive new strip club ordinances in favor of looser regulation, with what it says are 27,138 petition signatures and more to come - well over twice the number needed to force the election. (more…)

Falling papers

Dark days for newspapers have been here so long it's hard to remember when they were a growing, thriving medium. When was that? A century ago, when most mid-sized to large communities still had two or three? A half-century ago, when all but a few communities were monopoly markets but the papers still had strong penetration into their communities?

Circulation reports for daily newspapers, according to the new FAS-FAX reports, are down almost everywhere, large papers and small alike.
(more…)