The initial ballot counts are in for the City Council primary election, and the results point to some surprisingly clear signs as to who will advance to the November general election.
Here is the link to King County’s election results, which were posted at 8:15 tonight and will be updated at 4:00pm every day until the final results are certified on August 20.
City-wide, 138,171 ballots had been returned as of 6:00pm this evening (two hours before the deadline), and 110,961 (80.3%) were tabulated in tonight’s results — leaving 27,210 received but uncounted and an unknown number between those dropped off in ballot return boxes before 8pm tonight and those still in the mail. The current ballot return rate is 29.4%; for comparison, the final return rate in the 2015 primary was 31%.
That would lead us to believe that tonight’s results are likely to be representative of the final totals. Traditionally the later-arriving ballots tend to skew to the left, and there’s no reason to believe that won’t happen this election as well.
Briefly, here are the top vote-getters in each Council race:
D1: Lisa Herbold 47.95%, Phil Tavel 33.83%, Brendan Kolding 17.76%.
D2: Tammy Morales 44.69%, Mark Solomon 24.59%, Ari Hoffman 13.55%.
D3: Kshama Sawant 32.75%, Egan Orion 23.74%, Pat Murakami 14.20%, Zachary DeWolf 12.54%.
D4: Alex Pedersen 45.44%, Shaun Scott 19.41%, Cathy Tuttle 12.65%, Emily Myers 11.45%.
D5: Deborah Juarez 42.31%, Ann Davison Sattler 27.84%, John Lombard 13.78%.
D6: Dan Strauss 30.85%, Heidi Wills 22.74%, Sergio Garcia 14.55%, Jay Fathi 13.63%.
D7: Andrew Lewis 28.85%, Jim Pugel 26.46%, Daniela Lipscomb-Eng 10.32%.
What does this mean for the primary results? Across all seven races, the margin between the top two and the rest of the candidates is large enough that the remaining uncounted ballots are unlikely to change the results, with the very remote chance that Emily Myers might pass Shaun Scott. So we basically know tonight who will be on the ballot for the November election (the top two in each race).
What’s more difficult is predicting what this means for the outcome of the November election. More people vote in general elections than in primaries: in 2015, the city-wide participation rate was 31% in the primary and 46% in the general election. And the mix can be different as well: some people who can’t be bothered to try to differentiate between seven relatively unknown candidates might skip the primary but have a clearer idea who to vote for in the general. On the flip side, someone who voted in the primary but whose preferred candidate lost might be tempted to sit out the general. So while we can try to predict which of the top two candidates might pick up the votes from the candidates who lost, in practice it’s not nearly that simple because the voter demographics may change substantially between the two elections.
No candidate drew more than 50% of the votes in the primary (at least so far; Herbold, Morales, Pedersen and Juarez might get there by the time all the votes are tabulated). That suggests all seven races could be competitive in November. Districts 3, 6 and 7 will be particularly hard-fought.
It’s also notable that all seven races are shaping up to be a referendum on progressive activism vs. business friendliness, or “CAPE vs. CASE.” CASE, the PAC run by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and funded by the business community, has an endorsed candidate in all seven races. CAPE, the PAC run by Working Washington and funded by a combination of Nick Hanauer and several local unions, ranked candidates rather than endorsing them; but their highest-ranked candidate is in the top-two in six of the seven races, and their second-highest ranked candidate (who still received 4.5 out of 5 stars) is in the top two in the other race. Though in the District 5 race, they both favor the same candidate: incumbent Deborah Juarez.
The last few weeks of the campaign have turned ugly. But now with the battle lines drawn and the contrasts between the candidates clear, don’t be surprised if the next three months get far uglier.
In happier news: the renewal of the Seattle Libraries Levy passed by a landslide.