Arrow-right Camera

Spokane

Note to Democrats: Areas with high voter turnout hurt you

Sun., Dec. 5, 2010, midnight

Statistics may be for losers, as Scotty Bowman once said. But losers who don’t pay attention to statistics may be destined to keep losing.

So it might be wise for Spokane County Democrats to consider statistics from last month’s election that show they lost the courthouse essentially because they did poorly in areas that voted well.

Well, duh, you might say. People generally lose by not getting enough votes. But it’s the way most Democratic candidates didn’t get enough votes that should have them rethinking their strategies and suggest Republicans could settle comfortably into the “castle” on the north side of the Spokane River as well as expect to hold most of the county’s legislative seats and Eastern Washington’s congressional seat.

That conclusion can be drawn from comparing this year to the last midterm in 2006, a pretty good year for Democrats. Bonnie Mager won a county commission seat from longtime GOP incumbent Phil Harris, and Democrats held the county treasurer and auditor seats. They won two legislative seats in the 6th District for the first time since the 1930s and finished on top in the county’s tally of the U.S. Senate race.

With the exception of the auditor’s race, all of that was wiped away on Nov. 2.

The county had about 27,500 more voters on its rolls for this election. But it had about 29,000 more ballots cast compared with 2006.

Turnout went up faster than registration, but neither went up equally across the board. Because of population growth and registration drives in the presidential election, some precincts had hundreds more voters on the books than in 2006. The biggest gains tended to be west of Latah Creek and onto the West Plains, northwest Spokane, north of the Y and in Liberty Lake. Some of the slowest was in central Spokane.

Because of political winds – chalk it up to a tea party awakening, conservative backlash or a liberal “enthusiasm gap” – a few precincts had lower turnout; some had modest gains; others had hundreds more ballots cast.

Computerized mapping of the final votes shows that most Democratic candidates did poorly in suburban precincts with the biggest gains in voters and turnout while running well in many precincts inside the city of Spokane that had smaller gains, or even losses.

In other words, with few exceptions, Republicans won big in the precincts that counted most because they had the most votes to count.

The maps can be found online on the Spin Control blog.

Words that stick

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray agreed last week to take the job of chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a group dedicated, as its name suggests, to getting more Democrats elected to the Senate.

Considering last month’s election results, it’s not surprising there wasn’t a long line of aspirants to the job. Murray herself had to be talked into it.

She doesn’t take over until the first of the year, a spokeswoman said. So she is not responsible for the DSCC’s latest plea for cash: For a donation of at least $5, they will send you a special set of “poetry magnets.” You know, the kind with words that can be rearranged on the refrigerator to make endless variations of bad free verse. Among the magnetized words and phrases: Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, birthers, filibuster, crazy, extremist, donkey and elephant.

Smoking mad

Gov. Chris Gregoire is ticked at R.J. Reynolds tobacco company for using Seattle as one of 10 “cool” locations in a new ad campaign for Camels.

The “Breaking Free” campaign uses the iconic dromedary standing in front of an artistic rendering of Pike Place Market and Mount Rainier. “Home of grunge, a coffee revolution and alternatives who’ll probably tell you they’re happy when it rains. It’s the smell of vinyl in that hidden record store, that worn t-shirt and a ticket stub with a scribbled phone number – all with the spirit of our Gold Rush ancestors who didn’t think twice before breaking free for the glowing future ahead.” (Note to Reynolds: You’d have to be smoking something much stronger to see the mountain, Pike Place and the skyline like that.)

“I am alarmed and disappointed at R.J. Reynolds’ new marketing campaign which exploits the name and image of Seattle to recruit young smokers,” Gregoire said last week.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has called on Reynolds to cancel the campaign, although the company has thus far refused.

Some blog readers have asked whether Gregoire doesn’t have bigger problems to worry about.

Spin Control, a weekly column by political reporter Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items, reader comments and computerized maps of the 2010 vote at www.spokesman.com/blogs/spincontrol .


There is one comment on this story »