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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Presidential primary ballots painted Washington deep blue

Washington’s presidential primary drew a record number of voters and provided a wealth of data that provides some insight into the race as it existed in mid-March.

The race could change dramatically in the next 7 1/2 months as the nation copes with the COVID-19 outbreak, the remaining state primaries and a nominating system that could be changed to avoid social interactions.

But a computer analysis of the more than 2.3 million Washington ballots turned in, which under state law are public records and posted on the Secretary of State’s elections website, suggests Democrats have some big advantages over Republicans statewide. Those advantages aren’t quite as pronounced in Spokane County, where about 159,000 ballots came in.

Here are some takeaways:

Democrats had the enthusiasm edge. Washington trends Democrat, so with a long list of candidates and a competitive race on that ballot and a single candidate, President Donald Trump, on the Republican side, the number of Democratic ballots cast was expected to be higher. But statewide, more than twice as many Democrats turned in a presidential primary vote, which could signal a higher level of enthusiasm for the fall election.

Even in Spokane County, which trends Republican in most major partisan elections, the total number of Democratic ballots cast was slightly more than 25% higher than the GOP ballots.

The Democratic surge was more pronounced in the last week of the mail-in election. Democratic ballots accounted for about 55% of those received at county elections offices by March 3; Republican ballots were 43% of the total. By the time all the ballots were counted, the state had almost three times as many ballots, and the split was 67% to 30% – with the remainder being ballots that came in without either party box on the envelope checked and thus not part of the official results.

In Spokane County, about 6,000 more Republican ballots had been received by March 3. After all the ballots had been turned in, Democratic ballots outnumbered GOP ballots by about 18,000.

Women were more likely to vote than men. Women typically vote in greater numbers than men, and this didn’t change. Some 160,000 more women cast primary ballots statewide, and about 12,000 more women voted in Spokane County.

Candidates should be careful about pinning hopes for a victory on young voters. The youngest voters didn’t cast as many ballots as the oldest. Those 18 to 25 years old cast about half as many ballots as voters over 75 statewide, and about a third as many as those in Spokane County.

But Democrats definitely did better among young voters than Republicans. Ballots from voters ages 18 to 25 were nearly four times as likely to be marked for Democrats as for Republicans statewide, and twice as likely in Spokane County.

Democrats did better among senior citizens as well, although the difference wasn’t so great. Voters over age 65 in the state were about 67% more likely to mark a Democratic ballot than a Republican one. In Spokane County, Democratic ballots were about 22% ahead of Republican ballots.

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