King County Elections reports that it received 95,000 ballots this morning at its Tukwila headquarters, the largest single day of ballot returns so far this primary election.
“It was exciting to see so many ballots arrive today,” said Sherril Huff, Elections Director. “Typically Election Day is associated with the highest number of ballot arrivals. We’re processing the ballots as quickly as possible, and expect to include an additional 40,000 in the results report today.”
One of the data points I’m most interested in from this primary is the relative turnout from various regions of the state. Because the two parties have become so dramatically regionalized, I’m curious to see whether the so-called “enthusiasm gap” would result in significantly lower turnout in overwhelmingly blue King County than in its overwhelmingly red counterparts. And last night’s results would initially suggest this to be the case.
But due to obvious logistical reasons, the big, Democratic leaning counties tend to report their results slower than the rest of the state, explaining the oft seen phenomenon in which Democrats tend to pick up support as the vote drags on and Democratic precincts make up a larger and larger percentage of the daily ballot dumps.
For example, last night King County reported 243,755 ballots counted out of 1,074,731 registered voters, for a voter turnout of only 22.68%, compared to about 29% for the rest of the state. But add today’s 95,000 new ballots to the estimated 55,000 ballots left uncounted last night, and King County’s turnout rises to a respectable 37% with likely tens of thousands more ballots still in the mail. Indeed, just last Friday Huff projected a rather optimistic final turnout of 495,000 ballots, or roughly 45 percent. We’ll see.
Apart from simply gaging voter enthusiasm, or rather, its impact on voter turnout, the large number of ballots outstanding in King, Snohomish, Kitsap, Thurston and other counties where Patty Murray outperformed her current statewide average suggests that her percentage of the total vote will likely rise a bit over the coming days, painting a somewhat rosier picture for November… that is, if you believe these primary results to be the least bit predictive. Again, we’ll see.
King County Elections just updated its results, adding 42,375 ballots to the count, with another estimate 107,000 ballots remaining. Interestingly both Patty Murray and Clint Didier did slightly better in today’s batch of ballots than in last night’s reported results, while Dino Rossi performed slightly worse. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues.
And FYI, Murray has climbed from 44% of last nights early results to about 46.7% this afternoon, while Rossi has fallen from 38% to 33.5%. Interesting, though not necessarily meaningful.