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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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August 19, 2008 8:04 PM

Primary night: No forecast for November

Posted by David Postman

Good evening all. I had hoped to be able to use our live-blogging and chat software but we’re having some technical difficulties. So I’ll start here, the old-fashioned way and try to post through the evening as news warrants.

Let me start by saying I don’t think it makes sense to read too much into tonight’s results in the race for governor, other statewide officials except SPI or the 8th District Congressional race.

There is just too many differences between primary voters and general election voters.

I’ve heard from a lot of campaigns with their pre-spin and expectations. But history is on my side here.

Take the governor’s race. in 2004, Chris Gregoire 504,018 votes and Dino Rossi got 444,337. In addition, Democrat Ron Sims got 228,306 votes. That could have led Democrats to think they had a pretty good showing. Gregoire alone polled more votes than Rossi and those Sims votes could have been assumed to go Gregoire’s way come November.

But we all know what happened in November. Rossi and Gregoire were in a dead heat. So maybe all the Sims votes went to Gregoire. But of those who didn’t vote in the primary, enough backed Rossi to show him the winner come election night.

We can learn something from the Lands Commissioner race that year, too. In the primary Democrat Mike Cooper got 600,495 votes. Republican Doug Sutherland got only 433,077 votes. But there’s no Commissioner Cooper this year. Sutherland won in November with 1.3 million votes to Cooper’s 1.22 million.

If you look at this video of Democrat Darcy Burner, you can see she put a lot of importance on doing well tonight.

But two years ago Burner got a few thousands votes more than Reichert in the primary. Both ran unopposed for nomination. And in November, Reichert beat Burner by about 7,000 votes.

So if, for example, Burner finishes behind Reichert tonight, would it make sense for national Democrats - and that’d be her fear - to stop putting money into the 8th District? I just can’t see that, or the reverse, unless someone really just bites it tonight.

A note on the 8th: Reichert Chief of Staff Mike Shields told me this afternoon he will be taking a leave from the official office to run Reichert’s general election campaign.

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