It sure is tempting to pour through the numbers from last week’s primary for tell-tale signs of what’s to come in November’s general, but as others have pointed out, past primaries have not proven to be predictive, and it’s impossible to compare our new pick-a-party primary with results from previous open ballots.
But Jim Camden makes some interesting observations in today’s Spokesman-Review by not just exploring the vote totals in Spokane County, but by also looking at the undervotes… those ballots in which voters do not mark any preference in a particular race.
Undervotes are the reason that vote totals for different contests in the same city, county or legislative district don’t match, because nobody ever gets through an election without somebody refusing to vote for him. In most elections, the farther down the ballot one goes, the more likely for casual voters to say, “Forget it!” and stop marking the ballot.
But not in this year’s Spokane County’s Republican primary.
The race with the fewest GOP undervotes was the sheriff’s primary between Ozzie Knezovich and Cal Walker. Of the 56,510 voters who marked a Republican ballot, only 1,794, or 3 percent, left the sheriff’s race blank.
That’s pretty amazing, considering it was second from the bottom of the partisan ballot. By comparison, one voter in 10 didn’t mark a choice in the U.S. Senate race at the top of the ballot featuring Mike McGavick and five other choices, and one in six didn’t fill in the circle for the next race, Cathy McMorris’ uncontested House primary.
Comparing the House primary, which was about average for undervotes, to the sheriff’s primary, there was a steady drop-off in votes throughout the cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley and heavy drop-offs in a few traditionally Democratic precincts and in the rural southern precincts of the county. In only a few isolated precincts were there more undervotes in the House race than the sheriff’s race.
OK, so the sheriff’s primary was one of the hottest in the county