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The watch

Heavy blogging here today and deep into the night - big surprise there, huh? - and we'll start with a quick look at the overview from the early time zones, with some thoughts on what that might mean out here.

We'll be doing a little TV expounding this evening, but other than that it'll mostly be absorbing numbers and blogging about them.

Nationally, our first and only choice for television will be C-SPAN, by far the best national political resource on the tube; none of the rest will be bothered with. Online, there are a batch of great resources, including some innovative stuff at CNN and TalkingPointsMemo. We'll likely do some skipping around to check out other options too.

For the Northwest, here's where our eyeballs will be mostly glued.


Secretary of State. The SecState in Washington usually has some of the fastest-reporting (and best-designed) reports in the state.

King County. They say they will have the first round of results posted by 8:15, the next round at 10:30 and thereafter a batch per hour. We'll see: This office hasn't always been, shall we say, Sir Speedy on this stuff in the past.

King County, of course, is politically lopsided, so trends may be more readily discerned through the Snohomish County elections office. The Spokane County elections results and in Clark County may be useful too.

Uncertain what reporting the two state parties may have on their web sites, but we'll be checking the Washington Democrats and the Washington Republicans to see what's there.

The Seattle Times looks to have a nicely comprehensive site ready to roll.

The Spokane Spokesman-Review looks as if it will be fairly comprehensive as well, and take note of the radio show (an hour program starts at 8 p.m.) accessible through its main page.

And, some broadcasters are doing live streaming of results. KIRO-TV in Seattle, for example, plans to crank up around 8 p.m.


The Secretary of State's web site doesn't usually provide same-night results. But we'll stop by to see what does come up.

For drilling down, check out the Multnomah County and Washington County election sites.

Best comprehensive spot for Oregon results is likely to be the Oregonian, which has several pages devoted to updated results. They've been generally complete and prompt in recent elections. We'll keep watch too on the Salem Statesman-Journal's page.

Among the TV results pages, we've had the best luck with the KGW-TV (8) pages, which often has been both complete and fast. So we'll probably be back there regularly.

We'll pay some attention to Oregon Public Broadcasting too, the amount depending on what their reports look like.


The Idaho Secretary of State's office has gotten right on top of election night results in recent years, and it should be just about the single best spot for Idaho returns this evening.

The Ada County election results (or here) are traditionally sluggish, but the office was pushing this year for early voting, so that may speed up some of the early returns. Canyon County officials, however, were warning that meaningful results there might not be forthcoming until sometime Wednesday morning (although the current results page does seem to promise results starting at 9:30 p.m. today).

The Boise Idaho Statesman site should be the top news media spot for results. But KTVB-TV (7) often gives it a solid run and sometimes their results are the fastest in the state - they're promising results every two minutes, a high bar if they can do it - so we'll be checking there routinely too.

Why not a split

There remains some view that Republicans may do well in today's election - Coyote at NW Republican picks Republican John McCain over Democrat Barack Obama 294-244. But call that a distinctly minority view - brilliant prognosticating if it turns out to be anywhere near correct.

But the prevailing view is that Obama will win, and substantially. Our take, expressed in a couple of online raffles, is that he takes somewhere in excess of 320 electoral votes. (The final Karl Rove map estimates 338 ev.) That estimate comes in great part from the endless and massive polling (not one full major poll has given McCain a lead for more than a month) but also from an enormity of other material, up to and including the first election results reported in the nation, last night: Obama wins at the two early-voting and reporting precincts in New Hampshire, becoming the first Democrat to win in them in 40 years.

In that environment, there's been an undertone to Republican campaigns for major office in the last week or two: Don't give one party too-full control, with the implicit understanding, suggested by congressional candidates at least, that Obama will win and Democrats in control in the Congress need a brake. That's been a central implicit argument for Oregon Republican Senator Gordon Smith, and seems to be hovering in the background for the other major competitive Republican in the region, Washington gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi.

The split-control argument often has had some appeal in Oregon and Washington, and at this site (public records checkers will find this household registered as non-affiliated). But this year may be different.

Checks and balances are often a useful way to govern, but they do not send clear messages from voters to their elective servants. Decisive results can do that, and that is what landslides are about - not just a vote on the presidential level, but down below as well, because not only presidents but also lots of other people are involved in governing this country.

In 2008, we are at the tail end of an administration with a clear, distinct character, one that took the nation in a specific direction, and it behooves voters to express how they want to deal in the future with its key characteristics. Such as, not limited to . . . Torture. Extraordinary rendition. Unitary executive (code language for dictatorship). Abrogation of constitutional rights on presidential whim. Rejection of duly-passed laws instead of their "faithful execution." Launch of a war that need not have been fought, and not only wholesale deception of the nation in its launch, but - larger - an active preference for war, for war without end, without an articulable objective; atop that, malfeasance in its conduct, and failure to provide proper service to those who fought in it. (What exactly is "victory" in Iraq supposed to constitute anyway?) Hostility to and from most of the rest of the world. Abuse of the nation's judicial system for political benefit. Kleptocracy. Waste and unaccountability on almost unimaginable scale. Deception and outright lying on a stunning unprecedented scale - in active preference to honesty, not merely on occasion but as normal operating procedure. Budgetary mismanagement; public debt beyond compare. Tolerance of overwhelming finance and economic mismanagement. Secrecy - "undisclosed locations." Deceptive and secretive regulation. Crony capitalism. Crony governance. Pay to play. Suppression of science and research. Suppression of voting. Encouragement of ideological and other extremism. Active transfer of increasing amounts of wealth into ever-fewer hands. Dog-whistle encouragement of racist and other forms of hatred among and between Americans. And a lot else, but in all not merely the worst presidency in our nation's history - not even James Buchanan's comes close - but the most appalling, sickening, immoral, dank eight-year back alley of our nation's history.

If the nation's voters, and the Northwest's, do vote in such a way today as to decisively and overwhelmingly repudiate all this, and chart a different course, that shouldn't be too hard to understand.

More cuts, still

And the cuts keep going on - another 10% cut at the Seattle Times. The paper's own story about the cuts "hinted" (however would they have figured it out?) at still more to come before long: "As the 2009 budgeting process continues, there will be additional expense reductions, which may include additional layoffs."

A massive decrease in classified advertising was said to be a key reason for the cuts.

Once again: Where will we be in another couple of years?

Winding down scene: Astoria

Jeff Merkley

Jeff Merkley in Astoria (with Brad Avakian to the right)/Stapilus

From a distance, if you didn't look too hard, the gaggle moving along Commercial Street in downtown Astoria, invading businesses here and there, might have looked like an unruly gang, one of protesters carrying signs . . . except that they were peaceful enough, as you saw when you got closer. They included, after all, a United States senator, a candidate for the Senate, and a bunch of other local and state Democrats . . . All they were asking for was votes, which, this being Astoria and they being Democrats, wasn't unreasonably difficult . . .

This was one of the last campaign days, to put the lead point on it, for Democratic Senate nominee Jeff Merkley, and he was spending it with Senator Ron Wyden and other candidates (including Kate Brown for secretary of state and Brad Avakian for labor commissioner) heading down the north Oregon coast, down 101 to Newport. They gathered outside the Clatsop County Democratic headquarters, where something of a confrontation was underway.

The hot issue in Clatsop (there was a big ballot issue contest on it in the primary) concerns development of a liquid natural gas loading station. Most voters at least in the county are opposed, and LNG-with-a-slash-through signs are all over the Astoria area. But the development has backers too, and about a dozen of them showed up waving "I support" signs. (Several wore shirts or had other indicators of Republican support; one woman wore a shirt saying, "Don't be insane, Vote McCain"). One of them, a man who seemed furiously angry, shouted back at the Democrats for a while.

When Merkley showed up, he moved generally around the crowd, and spent a while with several of the pro-LNG people. There were no votes to be had there - Merkley and they were simply on different sides of this one - but the encounter managed to remain cordial. Not a mean feat. (more…)

Winding down scene: Longview

Dino Rossi

Dino Rossi in Longview/Stapilus

That, in the political environment of late fall 2008, Dino Rossi still is even competitive - and he may yet pull off the win - in his second race for governor of Washington, is testament to . . . something. Certainly Democratic Barack Obama will sweep the state in the presidential. And whatever criticisms might be made of the gubernatorial administration of Democrat Chris Gregoire, it has not been catastrophically awful, which often is what it takes to oust an incumbent. And most often, rerun races, as this is, only reinforce the outcome of the original.

The external environment was apparent enough at Rossi's stop midday at The Works, an old-fashioned family restaurant in central Longview: Democratic protesters were out in force with pro-Gregoire and anti-Rossi signs. The crowd of 60 or so inside the restaurant to hear Rossi - evidently a Republican loyalist crowd - seemed a little subdued owing to the general environment. But they responded warmly and eagerly to Rossi; there almost seemed, after all they've all been through, a bond between them.

Watched in commercials and on television, Dino Rossi always comes across professionally but sometimes almost a little too slickly. As he was addressing and working the crowd in Longview, you could see the high energy level but also a more personal and informal appeal at work. Also, a campaigner with an underrated sense of calibration: Working with the people at hand, but not pressing things too far even when he senses they might like it. (more…)

The political press, expanded

This site would be remiss, as a reporter on politics in the Northwest, not to take note of the decision of at least one major campaign to bounce two bloggers from a press conference.

Goldy of Horse's Ass (one of the bouncees, from a Republican Dino Rossi press conference) on the point involved: "we are a legitimate part of the media, and it is in the public interest that we be treated that way. For as more and more traditional media moves online while blogs like mine expand the quantity and quality of our coverage, the line between the two will continue to blur, making any effort to ghettoize mere bloggers nothing more than a convenient excuse to deny access to journalists who produce unflattering coverage."

Horse's Ass is an explicitly liberal/Democratic site, but it also produces a lot of useful, original information - dare we say original reporting. It is as useful a political site (as long as you remember where it's coming from) as any in the region, including the large corporate variety.

Our guess is that this sort of bouncing will be happening less and less in future cycles.

ID: At the courthouse

The Idaho Democratic Party sometimes has to grab on to whatever slices of good news it can find, even if the news doesn't objective look all that great. (You do what you have to.) But this is of interest for non-obvious reasons:

A party article by Julie Fanselow highlighting county commission candidates around the state, "42 Idahoans running for county commission seats as Democrats this fall, an unusually high number."

On one level, that's an admission of a problem, since in any given general election year, 88 county commission seats are up for election in Idaho's 44 counties. Democrats are contesting fewer than half of those seats; the rest will be snapped up by unopposed or virtually unopposed Republicans (apart from maybe one or two independents). And of the 42, just 15 are incumbents, an indication of how lightly represented Democrats are at the courthouses.

There is another way to look at this, though. Let's run through recent election history and see how Democrats have done earlier this decade in Idaho county races.

bullet 2000. In this presidential year, when Democrats lost a number of relatively high-profile incumbents at the courthouses, the election record shows 39 Democratic candidates for commission seats. Of them, 12 - fewer than a third - won.

bullet 2002. A slightly more Democratic year, but not by much, saw Democrats nominating 36 candidates to the commission. That number was down a little, but their wins rose to 17, close to half.

bullet 2004. Another rough presidential year for Idaho Democrats, nominating just 31 for commission seats (a low in recent times). Still, 16 of them won, more than half this time.

bullet 2006. Democrats filled their candidate slate this time to 35 (again, out of 88 total seats). Not a great ballot presence, but the win-loss ratio was little noted: Democrats won 24 of those races, more than two-thirds.

There could be something of a pattern here.

These races are not all created equal. The Democrats in Benewah County, for example (where Democrats have held two or three of the commission seats for many decades), are simply a conservative group who have little to do with Couer d'Alene or Boise Democrats. (One of those Benewah Democrats is Republican Representative Bill Sali's highest-profile Democratic endorser.) But taken as a whole, they're a bit of an indicator.

How many seats do they win this time with 42 candidates? It'll be another number to watch on Tuesday.

OR: Early advantages

The early indications of a Democratic blowout in Oregon on Tuesday are there in ballot numbers that have been released so far. Not votes, of course: Those won't be out until Tuesday night. But we do know now how the early voting is going for the two parties according to returns by registrants of each party. And those numbers are clear.

One comparison already pretty widely noted is that registered Democrats - of whom there are about 220,000 more in Oregon than Republicans - have been turning in their ballots at a faster clip than registered Republicans, 49% to 41%. (If the rates were even, that would still be a big Democratic advantage, given their higher registration numbers.)

Not only that, the Democrats have outpaced Republicans in ballot returns so far in all of Oregon's 36 counties.

ballot return advantage But in looking at the Thursday afternoon ballot numbers (helpfully posted on Jeff Mapes' Oregonian blog) you can also work out how some of the voting may go, to the extent that registration matches up with voting patterns, based on the raw numbers of ballots submitted. That's not (as TorridJoe notes in his Loaded Lrygun post on the returns) the same as rate of returns, since counties have varying portions of registered Ds and Rs. (The map shows which counties have generated so far more Democratic than Republican ballots in raw numbers.)

A cautionary note: There are ancestral party registrations, people who have been registered with one party or other for a long time but have in practice migrated over to the other. And you also have to factor in the nonaligneds, and independents (who between them have leaned Democratic in the last few cycles).


You have here places like Clackamas County, the third largest in Oregon (Portland suburban) which broke narrowly for George Bush in 2004; as of Thurday it has returned about 45,000 Democratic ballots to 32,000 Republican. Deschutes County (Bend), very strongly Republican for - well, always - so far has returned more Democratic ballots than Republican, 16,648 to 15,660. Yamhill County, traditionally Republican, is running 8,320 Democratic ballots to 7,163. Polk County (Dallas), even more Republican traditionally, is at 7,716 Democratic to 6,753 Republican. Jackson County (Medford/Ashland), the anchor of southwest Oregon and long a Republican stalwart, is at 23,142 Democratic to 19,745 Republican - in a county with a 2300 or so Republican registration advantage. Marion County, Republican for ages (until a registration flip a few months ago), is at 27,850 Democratic to 22,842 Republican, in a county where the Democratic advantage still is only slight.

You can imagine what the Democratic counties look like - running near 4-1 in Democratic ballots in Multnomah (Portland), nearly 2-1 in Hood River, about the same in Clatsop, and more than 2-1 in Benton.

Some of this, of course, may be reflective of enthusiasm and better Democratic efforts to get out early votes. But is there any reason to think the trend is just going to hit a wall in the next three days?

Who pays?


So often with public services the issue isn't even whether the service is needed - it's that I don't want to be the one paying for it. But someone has to . . .

In the recent decision in Lane v. City of Seattle, the Washington Supreme Court had to settle what seems a prosaic question: "In this case we must decide who will pay for fire hydrants in the city of Seattle and its suburbs." A boring question rapidly turned into farce:

Seattle Public Utility (SPU) used to pay for them, passing the cost along to its ratepayers. The ratepayers object and want Seattle to foot the bill. If Seattle has to pay for its hydrants, it wants Lake Forest Park to pay for the hydrants in Lake Forest Park. Lake Forest Park, in turn, wants fire districts in Lake Forest Park to pay. The fire districts want someone, anyone, else to pay. On top of all that, the ratepayers want interest on improper past hydrant payments they recover and want Seattle's new tax on SPU declared illegal. Finally, the fire districts claim they are no longer even parties to the litigation.

So it goes when the thinking is that taxes are evil . . .