Why Gregoire won

I’ve read a number of analyses attempting to explain Gov. Chris Gregoire’s decisive, 8-point victory over Dino Rossi in what has long been heralded as a nail-biter of a race, and I find it curious that everybody seems to miss the obvious:  voters were largely satisfied with the Governor’s job performance during her first four years in office.

Everybody was so focused on casting this race as a rematch of 2004’s virtual tie, that they seemed to ignore the dramatically different circumstances.  Four years ago this was a race for an open seat, pitting two contrasting personalities against each year.  The state decidedly leans Democratic, but Rossi came off as more personable, while an over-confident Gregoire campaign failed to challenge the Republican’s vague mask of moderation.  Meanwhile, Rossi’s “she’s too liberal,” “she’s gonna raise your taxes,” “she’s an Olympia insider” attacks resonated enough to make Gregoire appear a risky choice to many crucial swing voters.

But over the past four years Washington voters have come to know Gov. Gregoire… not as well as they should have, but well enough.  And as it so happens, it turned out she wasn’t too liberal, she didn’t ignore Eastern Washington, and apart from the gas and estate taxes—both approved overwhelmingly at the polls—Gregoire didn’t raise our taxes.

Fear of the unknown is a powerful force, but this time around Gregoire was known… and she just didn’t come off as all that scary, no matter how many times that asshole pitchman poured gasoline on a flaming stack of money.

This isn’t rocket science.  This was a referendum on the Governor’s job performance.  And on that measure, Gregoire won hands down, increasing her margins in 30 of 39 counties.

Of course, the strategy and execution of the two campaigns also came into play, as did various other external factors, and I’ll have more to say on that a little later.  But with even the post-election analysis of Gregoire’s own campaign manager failing to mention Gregoire’s job performance as a critical factor, I just wanted to give a little credit where credit was due.

For all our differences on policy and strategy, and there are more than a few, Chris Gregoire has proven herself to be an excellent governor… and in reelecting her, our state’s electorate has proven itself to be an excellent judge of both character and competence.

Comments

  1. 1

    AJ spews:

    Wingnuts can select from the following stock responses:

    “No, it was…”

    A) “…idiotic young voters.”
    B) “…misguided minorities.”
    C) “…because of the liberal media.”
    D) “…because Seattle stole the election.”

  2. 2

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I think the sex predator ads were fatal to Rossi’s campaign. Or, more precisely, when Washington Law Enforcement lined up behind Gregoire and called those ads lies, Rossi’s credibility was kaput.

  3. 3

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Of course, the election was far closer than it should have been given Rossi’s qualifications (none) and character (none). This should have been a 65% – 33% race. Our state still has too many voters whose information level needs raising.

  4. 4

    ivan spews:

    Yeah, Roger, everybody should be brilliant like you. I hope we can put to rest now the bullshit that Gregoire’s campaign was “lackluster,” “uninspring,” and all the other crap I heard.

    She kicked his lame ass, plain and simple. I told people she had won by 133 votes in 2004, and would win by 133,000 this time.

    I’m happy to have been full of shit yet again. The margin as I write this is now 170,000 votes. Her campaign was plenty good enough.

  5. 5

    YLB spews:

    mea culpa. I though we were headed towards another debacle like the current Burner/Reichert thing dragging out a week or so although I was pretty confident that Gregoire would come out on top by the low thousands.

    But Gregoire’s campaign people knew what they were doing and delivered.

  6. 6

    Steve spews:

    I wanted my old classmate Gary Locke to do well but Gregoire really has been the better governor.

    I was impressed with how she handled the flood last winter. I remember watching on the toob during the floods as a really grateful rural guy, hunting jacket and cap, gave her a big hug of thanks. I had a hunch then that she would pull it off against Dino.

    I was pissed as hell about the Sonics and wanted revenge and Chris Gregoire was the only person I could say fuck you to by deny her my vote. In the end there was no way I’d not vote for her given that I would only have helped the BIAW’s lackey.

  7. 7

    YLB spews:

    Roger @ 3

    I’ve heard Goldy say that our State is not really that blue, not that Democratic. It’s just that we have a really crappy Republican party.

    Just on gut I tend to agree. We seem pretty polarized here and the situation has gotten worse over the years.

    I’d like to see someone Goldy or otherwise expand on that.

  8. 8

    spews:

    I’m going to line up with both Goldy and Roger in saying that it was Governor Gregoire’s performance in office that won her reelection.

    “Lackluster” is probably the nicest thing that can be said for the campaign, and if her campaign would have been a bit stronger, I can think of at least one race (Kim Abel) that might have benefited from some coat-tails.

    Still, it’s tough to complain about a win.

  9. 10

    Steve spews:

    @7 I used to view Washington as Democratic but not particularly liberal. That’s changed some over the last 20 to 30 years. During that same time we’ve also become more polarized. Of course, so have other states.

  10. 11

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    voters were largely satisfied with the Governor’s job performance during her first four years in office.

      
    I was wondering why bush was reelected.
      
    If you disagree-
     

    Wingnuts can select from the following stock responses:
     
    “No, it was…”
     
    A) “…idiotic young voters.”
    B) “…misguided minorities.”
    C) “…because of the liberal media.”
    D) “…because Ohio stole the election.”

  11. 12

    ArtFart spews:

    8 Agreed. Gregoire is a far better governor than she is a campaigner. On the other hand, she was a better campaigner this time around than she was four years ago, trying to run a campaign while tying up a bunch of loose ends in her previous job and recovering from a bout with cancer.

  12. 13

    ArtFart spews:

    11 D. It’s just not possible that the majority of the American voting public could be as stupid as you.

  13. 14

    Daddy Love spews:

    11 MS

    Actaully, Marv, Bush was re-elected because he successfully deferred the worst of the revelations that were to come (US attorney scnadal, Intelligence Committe report on Iraq, and so on) until after 2004, and of course, Katrina sealed the deal later when he was forced to show his incompetence domestically, where they couldn’t suppress the news as they did in Iraq, which blew up in his face in 2006.

  14. 15

    Daddy Love spews:

    Four words: union card check legislation. It’s coming. It will transform the middle class.

  15. 16

    spews:

    Marvin?

    Actually, I would go with:

    E) Lies and fearmongering, capped with an amazingly convenient video from Osama bin Laden released just before the vote. (Who says that the Bush family can’t count on help from old friends?)

    and

    F) That stack of (still unopened and uncounted) provisional ballots in Ohio. (Maybe that one should be a subcategory of D.)

  16. 17

    ArtFart spews:

    “I’ve heard Goldy say that our State is not really that blue, not that Democratic. It’s just that we have a really crappy Republican party.”

    That’s true, and it’s really sad because it wasn’t always that way. In the last two decades we’ve seen the Dan Evanses and the Joel Prichards and the Slade Gortons eclipsed by the Ellen Craswells and the Luke Essers and the Pam Roaches….and the Dino Rossis.

  17. 19

    Joe spews:

    Been a lurker for a few months waiting until this election ended.
    Now that it finally has, I’m a little surprised the lack of coverage you given President –elect Obama. Even today’s press conference (not really) no word from HA.
    You have entertained me over the last few months and now the hit’s are dropping.
    I’ll leave you 5(d) until 2012.

  18. 20

    Steve spews:

    I see that Joel Connelly writes that the Republicans should dump their extremists. Wouldn’t that just leave the corporatists? Not much of a voting base there.

  19. 21

    ArtFart spews:

    20 Well, it would be a start, I guess. Greedy’s bad enough, but it’s better than insane.

  20. 22

    correctnotright spews:

    The republican party in Washington state is a shell of its former, glorious self.

    Where are the republicans of the stature of Dan Evans (republican environmentalist). Even Slade (evil) Gorton at least had some moderate insticts.

    Now all we have are the partisan hacks with ethics problems like Rossi and Doc Hastings or true idealogues like McMorris.

    Who can name a prominent, well-regarded and moderate Washington state republican?

    And go all Rob McKenna on me – being supported by the BIAW doesn’t qualify as moderate in any book.

  21. 23

    rla spews:

    Yeah I was disappointed in Rob McKenna and actually didn’t vote for him because of his backers and his ramblings from the republican national convention.. He seemed to slip into the playing the part of a Washington State/National republican looking for exposure rather than our Attorney General.

    By the way, who the heck is Toby Nixon.. I see the guy’s signs every single election and I still don’t have a clue who this guy is… I get the impression he just runs for every office available every time one comes up…

  22. 24

    proud leftist spews:

    The most electable Republican in this state, in a general election, is John McKay. Fortunately for Democrats, Republicans would never let a moderate like him to win a primary.

  23. 25

    kirkregard spews:

    what bullshit. Get over your bipolar analysis. If we’re talking about George Bush or any Republican you go into Chicken Little mode claiming how people are dumpster diving to survive. But when it comes to the Dems role or the leadership of WA it’s how great WA is and the leadership is so great.

    So which is it? Whichever reinforces your agenda, that’s which.

    The same reason we’ll never see an analysis on why the dow dropped 1000 points after the announcement of Barack Obama as president. Because in the eyes of a partisan hack like you it’s only a failure or someone can only be at fault if they’re a republican.

    This is why you’ll never be considered a journalist. Because Hack and Journalist are two different things, no matter how much you deny it.

  24. 26

    proud leftist spews:

    I guess bitterness on the level of yours can be expected from those who took such an ass-kicking on Tuesday. Please continue to believe something other than the incompetence and empty messages of the Republican Party caused its electoral trainwreck.

  25. 27

    calvin spews:

    This is also the same reason why Reichert won. I hope you will do a similar piece on why Darcy lost, highlighting this fact.

  26. 28

    Real American spews:

    see an analysis on why the dow dropped 1000 points after the announcement of Barack Obama as president.

    Uh… the same reason it fell over 5000 points since its high: Disastrous Republican economic policy and unbridled Republican greed.

    Next dumb question?

  27. 29

    cracked spews:

    Goldy, I think you are right. I had been worried about a Rossi win thinking her crap campaigning was going to get the people of Washington to reject the exact kind of governor they like.

    In spite of her arrogance and crappy campaign organization, Gregoire fits this states tastes pretty well. Not too flashy. Generally wishy-washy middle of the road, but strong on environment in an organized way. Against people starving or children without healthcare and believes education is something that should be planned rather than thrown to the wind with a role of ideological dice.

    However much Rossiites rail against bureaucracy, Gregoire exemplifies the faith in a transparent well run set of bureaucracies that exemplifies the “conservative” outlook of the west coast electorate. She’s Locke with “more” verve and vision.

  28. 31

    rhp6033 spews:

    I was particularly impressed by the comments by that Colorado State Trooper who was assigned as a driver for Gov. Gregoire during the convention. He had lots of opportunities to see her at her best and her worst, and came away impressed enough to write to the papers and tell them what a prize we had up here in Washington.

    I’ve heard that before about the Governor – although she doesn’t come across as being particularly warm on the TV screen, she impresses everyone she meets in person.

    I wonder how many more people in Colorado were impressed by the Democratic convention in Denver, and came away thinking:

    “Gee, these Democrats aren’t near the horned demons the Republicans make them out to be! In fact, everyone I’ve met is very nice, and reasonable! If the Repubicans and Fox News can lie about that so consistently, what else are they lying about!”

  29. 32

    ivan spews:

    @ 29:

    Again with the “crappy campaign organization?” She won by ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THOUSAND VOTES!

  30. 36

    spews:

    @19–

    Speaking for myself, if I thought I had some unique thing to say about Obama’s press conference, I would say it. It’s not like every move the guy makes isn’t being covered all over the Toobz.

    Sure, we weigh in on national stuff. But not always. Just depends.

  31. 37

    Michael spews:

    @34
    Gregoire took Thurston county and Every county north of it. Gregoire also took every county on that hotbed of liberalism, the Olympic Peninsula.

  32. 38

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    25. kirkregard spews:
    This is why you’ll never be considered a journalist. Because Hack and Journalist are two different things, no matter how much you deny it.

     
    That’s not nice to say about goldy and all the other liberal journalists.
     
    True.
     
    Not nice to say in public.

  33. 39

    cracked spews:

    @32
    here are my impressions:

    The way she campaigns there is no effort to allay the crotchety arrogant vibe she sometimes projects. It wouldn’t be that hard to soften her up. Plus, she does a poor job of coming right out and saying she *needs* our votes and asking for them. And her campaign does a monumentally crappy job presenting her genuinely strong bona fides as a pragmatic get things done environmental governor (among other areas). There should have been a whole series of adds developing a warm fuzzy feeling around environment.

    Face it, Rossi was another bad Republican candidate, despite his close race in 2004. Against a smarter, more qualified, less beholdin-to-sleeze Republican, she would have lost – despite being exactly what WA citizens want. Of course, such a Republican may not exist in WA, so we’re lucky.

    IMHO

  34. 40

    Michael spews:

    @37

    Get a life, once again she won because she was carried by ultra liberal King county.

    Total votes for Rossi in Adams, Asotin, Chelan and Benton counties combined: 68,498

    Total votes for Gregoire in Spokane county:
    92,407

    You might as well blame Spokane.

  35. 41

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    31. rhp6033 spews:
    I wonder how many more people in Colorado were impressed by the Democratic convention in Denver, and came away thinking:“Gee, these Democrats aren’t near the horned demons the Republicans make them out to be! In fact, everyone I’ve met is very nice, and reasonable! If the Repubicans and Fox News can lie about that so consistently, what else are they lying about!”

     
    But now with a extreme left president and extreme left congress all those people that thought the republicans were lying will regret not listening to the warning.
      
    As obama bankrupts the coal industry (his words), raises the cost of energy (his words) and congress assumes control of 401K (their words), all those people will learn the truth.

  36. 42

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    From today’s Rasmussen (FYI—Rasmussen nailed the Election Results):

    Friday, November 07, 2008
    Today, 41% of voters nationwide Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is handling his new role as president-elect. That’s up a point since yesterday (see trends).

    Twenty-nine percent (29%) Strongly Disapprove.

    Interesting, huh?

    Obama is already finding out it’s hard to please everyone and most American’s quickly dislike ANYONE in power.

  37. 44

    spews:

    Mr. Cynical,

    “Interesting, huh? Obama is already finding out it’s hard to please everyone and most American’s quickly dislike ANYONE in power.”

    Wait…what?

    So…of people who have enough information (or preconceived impression) to form a “strong” opinion, 58.6% approve and 41.4% disapprove. That outperformes his electoral vote percentage by over 5%!!!

  38. 45

    spews:

    Marvin Stamn,

    “As obama bankrupts the coal industry (his words), raises the cost of energy (his words) and congress assumes control of 401K (their words), all those people will learn the truth.”

    And…don’t forget. He is going to hide terrorists under your bed. Better check, Marvin….Boo!

  39. 46

    IAFF Fireman spews:

    How about doing a blog entry on why Marcy Bruner lost in the 8th congressional district?

  40. 47

    spews:

    Chuck,

    “Get a life, once again she won because she was carried by ultra liberal King county.”

    Ummm…COUNTIES DON’T VOTE. People vote. She won a majority of votes.

  41. 48

    rhp6033 spews:

    Cynical @ 42: You’ve got to be kidding me. Aside from having a chance to take a well-deserved nap on Wednesday, at the time a survey would have been taken on Thursday, he’s only had 24 hours as “President Elect”.

    And somebody is taking (and reporting upon) approval ratings on that???? And 29% strongly dissaprove of the way he’s handling his duties as “President Elect”?????

    All he’s done so far is get a little sleep, appoint a Chief of Staff, make breakfast for his kids, and try to figure out how to get his kids a puppy. And 29% (or about two-thirds of the Republicans who voted against him) “strongly dissaprove”????? What could he have done to please them – made waffles instead of pancakes?????????!!!!!!!!!

  42. 51

    SeattleJew spews:

    Goldy ..

    If CGH were an awesome governor she would have come closer to Obama’s margin.

    I suspect she did well for three reasons:

    1. This time she laid of the mus slinging. The pattern set by Axelrod in the Obama campaign and the contrast with the Reprican served Dino poolry .. even wiht the wonderful diaper ad!

    2. Dino tried to have it both ways .. to hitch hisself to the Obama movement while feeding hius roots in the muck of the Reprican base. The McCain campaign showed why that does not work and tainted anyone trying it.

    3. CG has improved as a politician, the third debate showed a much more confidant and mature politician. However, I suspect you and I were 25% of the audience and your daughter is to young to vote. That leaves thr5ee votes .. you, BRS, and I addected by the debate.

    I hope that out of this has come some political savvy for Ms. G.

    It would be nice, now that the election is over, if she SHOWED some of the skills she has in public by taking stands on the issues.

    One such issue is Boeing. Isn’t Ms. G a labor democrat? Howsit that Boeing is being effed up by a strike that could lose the company form this region with no visible impact form the Head of the Labor Party?

  43. 52

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    45. Darryl spews:
    Marvin Stamn,
    And…don’t forget. He is going to hide terrorists under your bed. Better check, Marvin….Boo!

     
    I never saw the video of him saying he was going to hide a terrorist under my bed.
     
    You got a link?

  44. 53

    Michael spews:

    @34

    Get a life, once again she won because she was carried by ultra liberal King county.

    Well, with 1,354 total votes cast it’s hard for the hard working folks of Garfield County to carry much.

  45. 54

    IAFF Fireman spews:

    What the hell are you babbling about, Squirt?

    Marcy Bruner is an awesome basketball player from Waco, TX.

    I guess you are right, Marcy Bruner is much more accomplished than Darcy Burner ever will be. So how about an expose on how Darcy can’t seem to win an election in back to back Democratic sweeps? Reichert up 6400+ votes.

  46. 55

    Michael spews:

    @54

    Um… Political nobody from a district that everybody felt was safe and boring makes national waves, twice forces the RNCC to dump huge loads of cash into a district that they used to pull huge loads of cash out of and almost picks off guy with close to the highest name recognition in Western Washington.

    Not too shabby if you ask me.

  47. 57

    busdrivermike spews:

    Goldy, you are mostly correct, but I think Rossi screwed up by talking about Gregoire too much, and not saying what he wanted to do. I also believe the BIAW lawsuit put a spotlight on the fact he was in their pocket. His strength in money was his achilles heel with undecideds.

    Personally, I thought hard about not making a vote for a Governor. But I knew that I would hate watching her lose by just a few votes. I would have felt guilty as hell. I really did vote for her last when casting my ballot. I bet a few others did too. She did not win a victory as much as she escaped a defeat.

    Gregoire has no charisma, but she won. A much better outcome than a Governor BIAW would have been.

  48. 58

    Yellerdog spews:

    Well yes her campaign was lackluster at least for the first three quarters but in the end she did piggy back on and benefit from an absolutely kick ass GOTV put on by the Obama Campaign and a little help from friends in high places. Barack and Michelle Obama and her brother Craig, Joe Biden, Howard Dean, Patty Murry and Maria Cantwell to name a few.

    The last two weeks we ran the campaign as a truly combined effort. From months of Vote Builder canvassing we knew Obama had a real lead but lots of people were still saying they were voting for him but not Chris. So our closing GOTV message was simple. “Don’t forget to send in your ballot or got the polls and when you vote for Obama remember that he needs Gregoire on his team to make change happen in Washington.”

    The campaign found it’s voice with that message beginning with the Biden Rally in Tacoma and it was reinforced by Michelle’s fundraiser and her brother’s apperance at the Maggi-Dinner. If you look at the polls you can clearly see that’s when that message began sinking in.

    The state workers woke up after the debates and realized that if Rossi won lots of them were screwed and out of work so they started turning out in force here in Thurton Co. We doorbell canvassed the entire county 4 times, that’s right we walked Thurston County 4 times, in the last week and had called everyone there was to call in our county so our phones (as many as 50 per 2 hour shift, 12 hours a day) were directed to Pierce and other counties.

    From the inside as a full-time volunteer the last couple of weeks were a wonder to behold. So while we’re handing out credit lets give a big helping to the thousands of volunteers who walked and phoned, made up lists, entered data, waved signs, made coffee and brought food to keep the rest of us going. Volunteers who gave and kept on giving until 8PM on the 4th and even after. As most of us were screaming in celebration of the Obama victory that was called within minutes after our polls closed some were riding shotgun to observe the locking of the drop boxes and hundreds of Democrats were watched the count throughout the evening at the auditors offices.

    Oh yes and Rossi being a total douche bag didn’t hurt much.

  49. 59

    thor spews:

    Gregoire won because she has been a damn good Governor and because Dino Rossi didn’t know the difference between talk and reality. Or at least his campaign communicated that Rossi didn’t care. Or thought the people of the state were dumb enough to buy the bull. Rossi knew nothing more than to run a a cynical campaign based on old scores, not the realities facing the state’s future.

  50. 60

    YLB spews:

    I just love how wingnuts bellow, “why aren’t you talking about the latest crap from Drudge, Rush, Insanity/Hannity, etc?”.

    Because it’s just that – crap.

  51. 61

    YLB spews:

    I’ll take knowing what you’re doing over charisma any day.

    Look at the charismatic figures wingnuts follow blindly: Raygun, Commander Codpiece, the Mat-Su Barbie..

    Real winners.

  52. 63

    IAFF Fireman spews:

    This evening, the whiny nasally voiced democratic candidate for congress in the 8th congressional district conceded YET AGAIN!. Gee, I wonder when she is going to announce yet another campaign? Only in 2010, it’s going to be hard to link Reichert to Bush.

  53. 64

    Mr. Idealistic spews:

    Races with incumbents are generally colored by one overarching law of politics: Incumbents who don’t majorly screw up will invariably win. Gregoire walked into this election not having made any glaring mistakes as governor. She governed ever so slightly to the left of center, pretty carefully in tune with the state’s political center of gravity (e.g. unlike Lowry, she didn’t saber rattle about income taxes and such).

    Given all that, Rossi had an uphill climb. Not only did he need to run a considerably better campaign than Gregoire, but he needed some lucky breaks.

    The collapse of the revenue forecasts was arguably his biggest lucky break, because Gregoire DID move too slowly to respond to the economic downturn. However, I don’t think that Rossi came off as centrist enough to position himself as the responsible alternative.

    Was Gregoire a strong enough incumbent to have won in the absence of the national Democratic tide this year? Probably. But I still hope that Gregoire leaves electoral politics after her second term expires. She has much stronger aptitudes as an appointed official than one who must run a statewide or — God forbid — national campaign.

  54. 65

    seabos84 spews:

    her campaign was LUCKY

    the MOST important variable affecting the lack of traction for Dino’s tried and try f’ing lies was

    SavingsAndLoansOllieNorthLTVPensionsIraqHalliburtonBlackwellKatrina700BillionForFreddiFannieLehmanThieves

    4 BUCK A GALLON GAS.

    While barack’s groundgame was 3 orders of magnitude better than what those pathetic pieces of shit dukakisgorekerryclinton did,

    AND the guy can deliver a speech like NO ONE,

    the fascist fucking lies about being on the little guys side finally didn’t work cuz the truth is finally so fucking bad.

    Darcy, Chris and Barack, AND the over paid over educated over credentialed Dim-O-Crats ‘leaders’, still have NOT driven a stake into the heart of the fascist fantasies and lies, and their very effective liars are already workign 24*7*365 to destroy obama, and our Dim-O-Crats are standing in front of mirrors seeing JFK at his inaugration, or MLK on the mall, or Honest Abe at Gettysburg.

    rmm.

  55. 66

    Donovan spews:

    “I find it curious that everybody seems to miss the obvious: voters were largely satisfied with the Governor’s job performance during her first four years in office.”

    Goldy, take a look at SurveyUSA’s polling on satisfaction with Gov. Gregoire to see the flaw in your conclusion.

    She polled a 52% disapproval rating vs. 44% approval a week before the election. This was one of the highest disapproval ratings of any Governor polled.

    http://www.surveyusa.com/clien.....a427cf2563

    This election was not an endorsement of Gregoire. She merely managed to make Rossi less palatable to the majority of voters.

    Don’t you think if she thought the majority of voters were happy with her performance she would have run a campaign that talked more about her accomplishments? She didn’t. She merely talked about why Rossi would be worse.