Clearly, the failure of voters outside Seattle and King County to turn in ballots at the same rate they did four years ago played a major role.
Vance says a lot of other stuff too, but for me, the very phrasing of his conclusion is a window into the cluttered mind of the Republican establishment. It's not our candidates or our platform or even our GOTV effort that's the problem, GOPers keep telling themselves. It's the voters. For example, I've heard a lot of talk from Rs about how they need to woo Latino voters, but very little self-reflection on the economic and immigration policies that have driven Latino voters away.
My take on Rob McKenna's electoral woes (and Vance is really mostly mulling on McKenna's loss), is that a lot of the soft-Dem and independent voters he was counting on just couldn't shake the sense that McKenna would ultimately governor like a Republican. Republicans can whine all they want that this anti-woman/anti-worker characterization of McKenna wasn't fair, but if Republicans can't win statewide races without running away from the Republican platform, well, I think that says more about the failure of the party than it does the voters.
Regardless of whether McKenna really is a different-kinda-Republican, the very fact that he relied on this image to pacify voters is a tacit admission that 21st century Republicanism remains outside the mainstream of Washington politics.