How the Politically Diverse 26th VotesNovember 3rd, 2010 by Chris Henry
Wednesday morning, day after the election: This post started out as a comment on my story about results in the 26th District.
As of this morning, Republican candidate Doug Richards had closed the gap district-wide in the race against incumbent Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor. Richards currently has 48.54 percent to Seaquist’s 51.46 percent.
This is not unexpected, given that Pierce still has poll voting. So the Pierce County results, as of last night when I wrote the story, were more fluid than in Kitsap, which has all-mail voting. Both Seaquist and incumbent Derek Kilmer, D-Gig harbor, who last night was leading his opponent Marty McClendon by nearly 17 percentage points, said they would keep an eye on the results as they continue to come in.
Republican Jan Angel, on Tuesday night, was basking in her lead of more than 21 percentage points over challenger Sumner Schoenike, a “report card” she said on her ability to listen to constituents and work to meet their needs. Angel may have had the political wind at her back, but remember that in 2008, she won against the tide that swept Obama and the Democratic majority into office.
Clearly, the Democrats were in defensive mode this election. In the eclectic 26th, they were taking nothing for granted. Kilmer told me he literally was doorbelling up until the last moment. Seaquist spent Tuesday waving signs and urging on his cadre of volunteers, who were doing likewise and making last minute calls to not-as-yet-committed voters.
I personally wondered why Kilmer wasn’t just calling it a day, but I could understand why Seaquist remains attentive to the results.
During the campaign, Seaquist told me the Pierce County portion of the 26th tends to favor Republicans. The Kitsap portion is an easier sell.
The results reflect that. As of Tuesday morning, the Pierce County results showed Seaquist down to 50.35 percent and Richards nipping at his heels with 49.54 percent. But in Kitsap the numbers were 52.83 percent and 47.17 percent respectively.
This is interesting, considering the story we just ran about how different precincts in Kitsap County vote. The map, based on historical elections data, shows almost a diagonal line dividing the mostly blue northern half of the county from the mostly red southern half (which includes part of the 26th). In South Kitsap, solidly blue Manchester sticks out like an island.
Is it statistically possible Richards could catch Seaquist at this point? Here are some things that could factor in. Last night, we asked Kitsap County elections manager Dolores Gilmore about how to read the results in close races. She said that, based on historical data, races in which candidates held a lead of 4 percentage points or more are unlikely to become upsets. Seaquist was just barely over this marker.
Then you have to factor in the number of votes to be counted. In Kitsap (slightly favoring Democratic candidates in the 26th), there remain an estimated 40,000. In Pierce (leaning Republican), there are 27,000 yet to be counted. And remember that not all those uncounted voters will be part of the 26th District.
Like Seaquist (and the “cautiously optimistic” Kilmer) we’ll continue to monitor the results until the election is certified on Nov. 23.
Chris Henry, reporter