Despite all the reports of low turnout, it looks to me like it’s going to be pretty normal for an odd-year primary—north of 30 percent, at least here in Seattle. But to be honest, I’m not sure what to make of the turnout disparity in the Seattle City Council races, where District 3 (let’s be honest, Sawant vs Banks) is proving an outlier with 20 percent turnout by the end of Monday compared to about 16 percent turnout citywide.
Publicola thinks it bodes well for Sawant, and I’d love to agree. But I really can’t say. It could be an indication that Sawant’s base—younger more lefty voters—are turning out earlier and in greater numbers than usual. Or it could be that it’s the older, wealthier, and more reliably voting Sawant-haters who are turning out in force.
Either way, there’s every reason to suspect the late ballots to trend young and lefty, so if these aren’t Sawant voters swelling the early ballot returns, expect a hard swing in her favor as the tally trickles in over the next week. Sawant closed a 7.5 point election night gap during the 2013 general, so the final primary results could look very different than tonight’s 8:15 drop.
As for the other races, the contest I think could be a bellwether of the mood of the electorate is the battle between John Roderick and Jonathan Grant for the right to challenge City Council President Tim Burgess. In a normal year, the affable, well-spoken, and well-funded Roderick should come in an easy second. But Grant has clearly positioned himself as the champion of beleaguered Seattle renters. If the under-funded Grant manages to edge out Roderick for the second slot on the November ballot, that’ll be a clear sign that affordable housing is resonating as the dominant issue with voters citywide.
All that said, other than determining the composition of the November ballot, I’m going to try to resist reading too much into the primary results (and I’m certainly going to be cautious about predicting anything from tonight’s lone 8:15 pm ballot drop). November will be a very different (and much larger) electorate than August.
Oh… and if you haven’t already, vote, goddammit!