The race for state legislative House District 26, Position 2, helped provide context for an L.A. Times story that highlights a trend from this election. First, here’s the entire selection dedicated to the Larry Seaquist-Doug Richards race:
In Washington, State Rep. Larry Seaquist hasn’t focused on a foreclosure suffered by his homebuilder opponent.
“I frankly don’t think there’s a lot of mileage to be gained in that,” Seaquist said Thursday.
The story generally focuses on how a candidate’s financial struggles are not necessarily hurting them in the 2010 election. In fact, in some cases it is a sign that the candidate can relate. Again from the story:
In some cases, adversaries point to these problems as examples of poor judgment and highlight perceived ethical lapses. But experts say they would be wise to tread carefully in a time of widespread pain, because voter sympathy may weigh into election day decisions.
First off, homebuilder is not Richards’ day job, but let’s not quibble. In July Chris Henry wrote the story about Richards facing foreclosure on an investment property. The comments on the story are interesting and to some degree do reflect the point of the L.A. Times story.
In the August primary Seaquist and Richards were the only names on the ballot for the race. Seaquist received 51.6 percent of the vote to Richards’ 48.4.
Looking further, I checked the numbers from the 2008 election to see if we could learn anything from it to suggest how things might go in November. Seaquist actually gained three percentage points in 2008 between the primary and the general election, but you could dismiss that as the difference between what was going on in August 2008 compared to November 2008. Democrats gained percentage points in five of the seven legislative races that year. And in the two races they did not the losses were slight.
Speaking more broadly, the general election played out exactly as the primary did when it comes to final results in 2008. Six Democrats and one Republican won. The margins in this year’s primary were much narrower than they were in 2008, so the six wins Democrats saw in the eight races are not as safe in terms of predicting what happens in November. But still, how big a win do you need?
Fred Finn, first-term incumbent Democrat representative in the 35th District received 46.6 percent against two candidates, one a Republican (Linda Simpson) and one who identified himself (Glenn Gaither) as an independent conservative. Democrat Kathy Haigh, representing the other 35th District House seat, had less than a percentage point margin over Republican Dan Griffey. In 2008 Haigh’s total went up more than five percentage points between the primary and the general election and won by 23 percentage points.
If Republicans hope to turn around the 8-1 margin against them in the Legislature, it would appear this would be the year. As mentioned earlier, the margins are closer. On the other hand, there is no solid evidence to wager your house on any change at all from the Kitsap delegation. As much ground as Republicans seem to have made, it may not be enough come November to close the Kitsap legislative gap. A half-point win results in the same thing as a 20-point margin. The winner goes to Olympia.
Feel free to weigh in on the poll on the right.