No doubt Republicans will pick up seats in the state Legislature this year.
After years of gains, the Democrats now hold near supermajorities in both the House and Senate, having pushed the demographic limits throughout Western Washington. Even with a good economy and a favorable political climate, you’d have to expect the Democratic winning streak to end sometime… and this most definitely is not a good economy nor a favorable political climate. Democrats are in trouble in several swing district seats, and will inevitably give back some of their recent gains.
But Republicans expecting 2010 to be like 1994 all over again will be sorely disappointed, at least according to the latest numbers released by the widely respected Washington Poll.
Sure, the baseline numbers show a virtual tie, with Democrats holding a statistically insignificant 39-38 lead on the generic legislative question, a far cry from their current legislative majorities. But when you delve into the numbers, things just don’t look all that scary:
Thinking ahead to the November election for Washington state legislature, are you planning to vote for the Republican candidate, or the Democratic candidate?
Democrat Republican Statewide total 39% 38% Democrat 89% 2% Republican 6% 88% Independent 21% 31% Puget Sound region 46% 30% Eastern Washington 25% 58% Other Western WA 45% 34%
Republican strength is substantially overstated by their better than two-to-one advantage in Eastern Washington. But the GOP already holds nearly all the legislative seats in that part of the state, so there aren’t a lot of pickup opportunities out there.
Here in the Puget Sound region and the rest of Western Washington, home to more than three quarters of our state’s legislative districts (and three quarters of the poll’s respondents), generic Democrats still hold a double-digit lead over their generic Republican opponents. Combine that with the fact that the economy is improving faster here than in the rest of the state, and I just don’t see the makings of a 1994-style Big Red Wave™.
Yeah, things could change between now and the election, but given these numbers, and the quality of the challengers the WSRP is putting up, I’d say House Speaker Frank Chopp has more to fear from losing support within his own caucus than he does from losing his majority.