The Seattle P-I has a short report on what to expect from the dueling legal teams in Dino Rossi’s contest of the gubernatorial election: “Strategies in governor’s contest now clearer.” Actually, I think the strategies have been clear for some time, but the article does a nice job of summarizing the issues, and concluding that the GOP’s hopes may hinge on whether Judge Bridges accepts their “proportional analysis” argument.
One possible line of attack they have sketched out is what Lane calls proportional analysis. The idea is this: If Precinct A cast 60 percent of its votes for Gregoire and 40 percent for Rossi, but it turns out that 10 votes from there were illegal, the court can assume that six of those votes were for Gregoire and four for Rossi and deduct those amounts from their respective totals.
Given that most of the 1,000-plus supposed illegal votes the GOP has rounded up so far came from King County, where Gregoire beat Rossi by 58 percent to 40 percent (amounting to a 155,000-vote difference), that strategy holds lots of appeal for the Republicans. And that’s one reason they’re trying to dig up as many illegal votes as they can.
Personally, I could see a court accepting such an approach if the number of disputed ballots were massive compared to the margin of victory. For example, if there were 10,000 illegal votes in heavily Democratic King County (and nothing to offset them in Republican strongholds) I could understand a court ruling that a 129-vote margin just can’t hold up to scrutiny.
I could even understand the court applying proportional analysis to a much smaller number, if there was clear evidence of that these votes were the result of organized fraud or misconduct.
But such statistical analyses become much less useful the smaller the sample data set, and I just can’t imagine the court accepting such an approach with the number of illegal votes reported thus far. It would be inaccurate to proportion votes based on countywide margins, as different precincts produce dramatically different results. Yet when you deconstruct the analysis to the precinct level, it is statistically meaningless to proportion one or two votes per precinct.
Of course the Republican’s case has always been more of an emotional appeal than a legal one, hoping that public outrage might undermine Gregoire if not sway the courts. But their pleadings are increasingly being met with cynicism in the court of public opinion as well, with a recent Elway Poll showing that 63 percent of voters now say we should accept the results of the election and move on, and 74 percent agreeing that there is always going to be some error.
And move on we shall. Today, Governor Gregoire will introduce the first draft of her budget proposal, which I fully expect to include about $500 million in tax and fee increases, along with over a billion dollars in cuts and other savings. Rather than being cowed by Republican anger over the election, she appears to be reacting to the pragmatic reality that maintaining government services at the level taxpayers clearly demand, requires raising revenues commensurate with those demands.
Now if only we can get her to consider structural changes that will eliminate these shortfalls in the future, instead of just the stopgap measures we’re likely to see in the current budget.
Well, it looks like I overestimated the tax increases. Gregoire has proposed a little over $200 million, coming from a $0.20 per pack hike in the cigarette tax, and reimposing the estate tax on non-farm estates worth over $2 million. More on the budget later.