by Lee, 10/31/2010, 12:00 PM

Last week’s contest was won by waguy. It was the law school at Widener University in Wilmington, DE where Christine O’Donnell recently discovered what the First Amendment to the Constitution says.

This is the fifth Sunday of the month, and what I think I’ll do for fifth Sundays is have it be specific to Washington state. Here’s this week’s, good luck.

by Goldy, 10/31/2010, 6:00 AM

Chronicles 15:13
All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.


by Goldy, 10/30/2010, 6:47 PM


by Darryl, 10/30/2010, 5:56 PM

Of all people, Washingtonians should understand the importance of getting out the vote. You may recall a very close state-wide race in 2004 that was won by a 129 vote margin (later judicially adjusted to 133). The loser of that race was Republican Dino Rossi, who is now challenging Sen. Patty Murray for the Senate seat she now holds.

Let’s not have a repeat of that…and you can help. is hosting GOTV calling parties to help re-elect Sen. Patty Muray and elect Suzan DelBene. They are looking for volunteers to spend an hour or two doing some good old fashioned voter outreach.

They are particularly interested in volunteers to make calls out of their Bellevue office at three times: Sunday at Noon, Sunday at 4:00 pm, and Monday at 1:00 pm. If you have an hour to spare during these (or even other) times, consider helping out. Start by giving them a call at 425-450-1054.

by Darryl, 10/30/2010, 11:18 AM

A new Marist poll has been released in the race between Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and real estate wheeler-dealer Dino Rossi (R).

The poll of 638 likely voters (4.0% MOE) taken from 26-28 October has Murray leading Rossi 49% to 48%. Marist polls use live interviews and include a sub-sample of cell phone interviews. As we saw with the Marist poll from two weeks ago that had Murray up by +1%, the current poll is evidence against the otherwise strong trend of live-interview polls showing a modest (or better) lead for Murray.

I ran a Monte Carlo analysis that simulated a million elections using the observed preferences and sample size percentages observed in the new Marist poll. Murray won 567,112 elections and Rossi won 422,059 times. The poll (by itself) offers evidence that Murray would win with an election held over the past two weeks with a probability of 57.3%. Rossi would have a 42.7% probability of winning. Clearly, this result is a statistical tie, even if Murray’s odds are a bit better than Rossi’s.


With today’s poll, we have now had seven polls released that cover the past two weeks. Murray has led in five of the polls, Rossi has led in one, and one was a tie. A combined analysis of all seven polls provides a way to use all the recent evidence to assess this race. The resulting meta-poll had a total of 5,778 “votes” of which 2,797 go to Murray (48.4%) and 2,712 go to Rossi (46.9%). An additional 269 (4.7%) “votes” went to neither candidate.

The Monte Carlo analysis gives Murray 789,523 wins to Rossi’s 207,597 times. Thus these seven polls provide evidence that Murray would win an election held over the past two weeks with a probability of 79.2%. Rossi would win with a 20.8% probability.


With only three days to go until the Big Poll is tallied, it is worth a few minutes examining the recent trend in this race. Here is the collection of polls in September and October (I’ve excluded polls released by a candidate or party):


The very recent polling suggests a tightening race. Even so, Rossi has only led in three of 19 polls over the past two months, and all three were conducted by Rasmussen (and Murray has led in two other Rasmussen polls). Beyond that, Murray has led in all other polls conducted by seven other pollsters except for one of three SurveyUSA polls giving a tie.

The bottom line is that Murray looks like she will win this one, but there are some uncertainties that may be distorting the map between polling and actual voting. My hunch is that the uncertainties don’t help Rossi’s chances much and some favor Murray:

  • Voter “turnout.” There really isn’t “turnout” in Washington, which has a very high proportion votes cast by mail-in ballots. Voter motivation should be less of an issue in this race than it will be in other states. You may have heard media reports about how a rainy day across the country on Tuesday will negatively affect Democratic candidates. While that may be true in states with poll voting, rain in Washington state can potentially give Democrats a boost by simply keeping inattentive voters in closer proximity to their unspent ballots.
  • The “cell phone problem.” There wasn’t much evidence that this problem biased polls in 2008, but there is some more recent evidence to suggest it can now. Some pollsters, like Marist, include a cell phone sub-sample, but it is hard to do. If the phenomenon is real, Murray will do better than many polls suggest.
  • The robopoll—live interview difference. I’ve been discussing this for weeks after Stuart Elway first raised it. The phenomena is observed nationally as well as in this race. Here, I suspect it will result in a 3%-4% boost for Murray over the robopolls, but nobody really knows what is causing the phenomenon. We’ll find out soon.
by Goldy, 10/30/2010, 8:27 AM

I’m heading to Westlake Center for the Seattle satellite rally of the Restore the Sanity/Keep Fear Alive rally, and as bit of a novelty, I plan to tweet my coverage.

So please follow me on Twitter, and discuss the rally here.

by Darryl, 10/30/2010, 12:31 AM

(And there is more good media stuff from the past week in politics at Hominid Views.)

by Goldy, 10/29/2010, 6:27 PM


A lot of passionate, enthusiastic Democrats are manning the phones and knocking on doors this weekend, working hard to get out the vote. But if you’re volunteering for Suzan DelBene, perhaps you’ve backed the wrong candidate, that is, if what really gets you motivated about politics is a $25 gift card.

Really, Dave? Huh. So much for that enthusiasm gap.

Anyway, if you don’t need the money, you can dial against Dave, and for Delbene, at any of these locations.

by Darryl, 10/29/2010, 1:18 PM

As I mentioned here and here, we have been treated to two new polls today in the race between Sen. Patty Murray (D) and Dino Rossi (R).

A SurveyUSA was a robopoll taken on 678 likely voters (3.8 MOE) from 24-27 October and has Rossi and Murray tied up at 47% each. The KCTS/KPLU/Washington Poll poll used live interviews of 500 registered voters (4.3 MOE) taken from 18-28 October, and has Murray leading 49% to 45%.

In some sense, both of these polls are older than yesterday’s Rasmussen robopoll of 750 likely voters (4.0 MOE) taken completely on the 26th of October that has Rossi up +1% (48% to 47%). Therefore, the only reasonable thing to do is combine all three polls into one meta-poll and do a Monte Carlo analysis.

The combined 1,928 “votes” are split 916 for Murray (47.5%), 904 for Rossi (46.9%) and 108 (5.6%) for neither candidate. From a million simulated elections at these proportions and sizes, we learn that Murray wins 579,294 times and Rossi wins 414,495 times. In sum, these three most recent polls support a Murray victory with a 58.3% probability and a Rossi win with a 41.7% probability. This is very close to a tie (statistically, it is a tie), but Murray has a slight edge.

My usual near-election practice is to analyze all polls taken in the past two weeks. There are six such polls:

Start End % % %
Poll date date Size MOE Murray Rossi Diff
Rasmussen 26-Oct 26-Oct 750 4.0 47 48 R+1
SurveyUSA 24-Oct 27-Oct 678 3.8 47 47 0
WA Poll 18-Oct 28-Oct 500 4.3 49 45 D+4
Rasmussen 17-Oct 17-Oct 750 4.0 49 46 D+3
Marist 14-Oct 17-Oct 589 4.0 48 47 D+1
PPP 14-Oct 16-Oct 1873 2.3 49 47 D+2

The resulting meta-poll has a total of 5,140 “votes,” of which 2,484 go to Murray (48.3%), 2,406 go to Rossi (46.8%), and 250 go away. From a million simulated elections, Murray wins 785,190 times and Rossi wins 211,969 times. Thus, from the evidence found in polls taken over the past two weeks, we find that Murray has a 78.7% probability of winning and Rossi has a 21.3% probability of winning.


Statistically, the race is a tie because the probability of winning is under 95%, but the odds do favor Murray a little bit.

by Goldy, 10/29/2010, 12:56 PM

According to recent polls, I-1107, which would repeal a temporary two-cent per can tax on soda pop, is likely to pass after the soft drink industry spent a record $17 million promoting the initiative. Which I’m sure means the soft drink industry is laughing at how stupid and gullible Washington voters are. Laughing all the way to the bank.

by Goldy, 10/29/2010, 9:51 AM


by Darryl, 10/29/2010, 7:18 AM

King 5 is reporting on a new SurveyUSA poll today in the race between Sen. Patty Murray (D) and perennial candidate Dino Rossi (R).

The poll has the race tied up at 47%. This is a robopoll of 678 likely voters with a margin of error of 3.8%. More analysis to come….

by Darryl, 10/29/2010, 7:02 AM

This morning KPLU reported on a new poll from KCTS/KPLU/Washington Poll in the race between Sen. Patty Murray (D) and real estate opportunist Dino Rossi (R). The poll has results presented in a couple of ways.

Among registered voters Murray leads Rossi 49% to 45%. However when a likely voter screen is used, Murray leads Rossi 51% to 45%. The survey was done using live interviews and has a margin of error of 4.0%. Full details on the poll will be available around noon. I’ll do a more in-depth analysis of the poll (and possibly another poll) later today.

by Goldy, 10/28/2010, 10:44 PM

I swear, if I hear one more Beck-addled teabagger railing against the “tyranny” of the Obama administration and the Democratic controlled Congress, I’m gonna stomp somebody’s head or something.

See, this government is not a “tyranny;” it’s what we call a “democracy.” You know, like when voters go to the polls and elect the government they want? For example, if the Republicans seize control of Congress next week through free and fair elections, I won’t call that “tyranny.” “Idiocy,” yes. “Mind-fuckingly stupid, reactionary, irrational, fear-fueled flapdoodle,” sure.

But tyranny? No… I’d call it just a really bad election season from my party’s perspective. You know, democracy at work and all that. However poorly.

But only a self-delusional sore loser would call it “tyranny.”

by Lee, 10/28/2010, 6:17 PM

Tonight at 7:15pm the Cannabis Defense Coalition is hosting a legislative forum in their SoDo headquarters with Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and City Councilman Nick Licata to discuss the bill being introduced next session to create a working dispensary system in the state. There will be a live webcast of the forum at this site.

I’m impressed with the amount of work that CDC’s volunteers have put into this space. Below the fold are two pictures from the newly renovated Cannabis Resource Center.

Read the rest of this entry »

by Lee, 10/28/2010, 4:15 PM

My ballot was mailed earlier this week, but unlike Goldy, I was torn over I-1100. I’d really like to see the state’s monopoly over liquor sales go away. The state store system is archaic, and one can easily look at state-by-state statistics to see that states with privatized liquor sales don’t have more problems with drunk driving (one of the bogus scare tactics that proponents have been using to get people to vote against it). There’s an argument to be made that underage people could potentially access liquor easier, but I think that’s a problem that can be solved with better enforcement and larger fines.

On the other hand, I wasn’t convinced that I-1100 adequately addressed the drop in revenue that would occur from dismantling the system. And in a year where our revenue problems aren’t showing any signs of improving, this outweighed my desire to move to a regulatory system that was more customer- and retailer-friendly. I ended up voting against it.

I’m currently reading Last Call by Daniel Okrent, a book detailing the history of alcohol prohibition. What’s interesting is that when the late 19th century movement to ban alcohol was gathering steam, the movement ran into a similar problem:

By 1910 the federal government was drawing more than $200 million a year from the bottle and the keg – 71 percent of all internal revenue, and more than 30 percent of federal revenue overall. Only external revenue – the tariff – provided a larger share of the federal budget, and by the end of the first decade of the twentieth century the tariff’s continuation was the most intensely debated issue in American public life. It would be hard enough to fund the cost of government without the tariff and impossible without a liquor tax. Given that you wouldn’t collect much revenue from a liquor tax in a nation where there was no liquor, this might have seemed an insurmountable problem for the Prohibition movement. Unless, that is, you could weld the drive for Prohibition to the campaign for another reform, the creation of a tax on incomes.

It may make us feel uncomfortable to have our budgets rely on revenue generated by the sale of alcohol, but that was the reality then and it’s the reality now. In fact, Okrent points out that taxes on liquor helped fund each of the wars of the 19th century, from the War of 1812 to the Spanish-American War. Right now, our state relies on the revenue it generates from controlling the sale of liquor. I’d be perfectly happy with breaking that dependency, but it doesn’t happen from wishful thinking alone. It requires figuring out how to restructure our tax system to allow for us to replace that lost revenue. With the outcome of I-1053 and I-1098 about to be decided as well – each having a large impact on how our tax system is structured, it’s anyone’s guess whether or not we’ll be able to do this in the near future – and that was too much uncertainty for me this time around.

by Darryl, 10/28/2010, 1:22 PM

We have fallen into a relatively dry spell for polling in the race between Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and real estate salesman Dino Rossi (R). Rasmussen has now released their latest Washington state poll showing Rossi leading Murray 48% to 47%. The poll of 750 likely voters was taken on Tuesday and has a margin of error of 4%.

This poll breaks Murray’s streak of eight consecutive polls with the lead. Before today’s release, the most recently taken poll was also by Rasmussen (17th Oct), and showed Murray with a +3% lead over Rossi (49% to 46%).

Using my usual Monte Carlo analysis employing 1,000,000 simulated elections, we find from the newest Rasmussen poll that Murray wins 415,950 elections to Rossi’s 573,763 wins. Thus, evidence from this poll alone suggests that, if the election had been held last Tuesday, Rossi would have a 58% probability of beating Murray to Murray’s 42% probability of beating Rossi. Given that the winning probability is under 95%, a statistician would tell us that the results suggest a statistical tie. Here is the distribution of simulated election outcomes:


A more comprehensive picture of the election emerges by combining all polls from the past two weeks. Besides the two Rasmussen polls already mentioned, we include the Marist poll taken from 14-17 October on 589 likely voters, giving Murray a +1% lead and a Public Policy Polling poll taken from 14-16 October on 1,873 likely voters and gave Murray a +2% lead. (Other polls in this race started the survey prior to the 14th of October so aren’t included.)

The combined meta-poll has 3,962 “votes” of which 1,920 go to Murray (48.5%), 1,862 go to Rossi (47.0%), and 180 (4.5%) just go away. In the Monte Carlo analysis, Murray wins 746,418 times and Rossi wins 249,788 times. In other words, the four polls suggest that Murray would win an election held over the past two weeks with a probability of 74.9%, and Rossi would win with a probability of 25.1%.


This collection of four recent polls gives the appearance that the race has tightened up a bit (compare this to the 98% win probability for Murray from pooled polls early last week). Keep in mind, however, that three of the four most recent polls are robopolls. As I discussed previously, there is a strong trend of robopolls showing Murray under performing relative to live-interview polls. Perhaps we will get a live-interview poll tomorrow….

by Goldy, 10/28/2010, 10:46 AM

Still no apology from the Seattle Times to our immigrant community for our sole daily’s credulous participation in the AP’s smear of OneAmerica Votes‘ immigrant voter outreach program.

Of course, considering this story was unfolding in its own backyard, you’d think the Times might consider doing a little original reporting of its own, rather than just copying and pasting the AP’s inflammatory headline: “In Washington, illegal immigrants canvassing for Democrats.” And if they had, they might of spoken to volunteers like Rim Abera, a 20 year-old college student and Franklin High grad.

Rim’s family, originally from Eritrea, came to Seattle from the Sudan when she was a baby. But despite achieving citizenship nine years later, her parents never registered to vote until 2008, when then-18-year-old Rim became energized through her work with OneAmerica Votes.

That’s the story the AP and the Seattle Times won’t tell you, and that’s the story the righties truly fear. For if more immigrants like Rim and her family do register to vote, and more of them show up at the polls and cast their ballots, well, that just doesn’t bode well for the right wing agenda.

by Goldy, 10/28/2010, 8:30 AM

A new poll released today shows Democrat Scott McAdams surging ahead of Republican Joe Miller 29% to 23% in the Alaska U.S. Senate race. This is the first poll to show McAdams leading Miller; incumbent Lisa Murkowski, running as a write-in candidate, leads the field with 34% support, with 13% remaining undecided.

Could Seattle’s former Yukon colony soon sport two Democratic senators? I wouldn’t bet money on it, but even a Murkowski victory would be a big blow to Borg Queen Sarah Palin on her home turf.

Mudflats’ server is clearly having trouble keeping up with the traffic, but Markos has more details and analysis.

by Goldy, 10/27/2010, 7:34 PM

If Republican Jaime Herrera is expecting to run away with the election in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, she better pick up the pace, for just a week out from election day, Democrat Denny Heck appears to have the momentum.

According to a new KING-5/SurveyUSA poll, Herrera now leads Heck 50% to 46%, with a +/- 4% margin of error. That’s a big difference from just two weeks ago when Herrera led by a 53% to 42% margin.

Cross-tabs aren’t available yet, but I was particularly intrigued by this analysis from SurveyUSA editor Jay Leve:

“Democrats today are more likely than in 3 previous polls to identify themselves as certain voters, and the party breakdown of this poll reflects that.”

Huh. That sounds to me like the expected Republican enthusiasm gap is beginning to narrow. And if that’s true, that would bode well for Democrats up and down the ticket. (Or at the very least, bode less ill.)