King County Elections completed its hand recount of SeaTac Proposition 1 today, and reported exactly zero changes from the machine tallied results. Prop 1, which establishes a $15 an hour minimum wage for thousands of airport and hospitality workers, has been approved 3,040 to 2,963, a 1.28 percent margin.
Recounts are historically anticlimactic in King County due to our meticulous ballot review procedures. It may take a little longer to count ballots around here than in the rest of the country, but we almost always get it right the first time.
To be clear, it wasn't just District 3 in which Kshama Sawant ran strong. While I don't have the precinct totals at my fingertips, as you can see from the citywide map above, Sawant also racked up a sizable advantage in District 2 (Southeast Seattle) and District 6 (Ballard, Fremont, etc.). In fact, Sawant did quite well throughout Seattle's landlocked interior, whereas voters with water views tended to strongly support incumbent Richard Conlin.
It's hard not to see the obvious division by wealth. Owners of fancy houses with landscaped lawns clearly weren't so into the Socialist. But this was more than just class consciousness. There are plenty of expensive condos and apartments on Capitol Hill, and yet their affluent residents weren't scared away by Sawant's socialist message.
And I'm not going to imply anything more than that.
Screw 2013. When it comes to Seattle City Council electoral politics, the game is already afoot for 2015 when all nine council seats will be up for reelection thanks to the passage of the districts charter amendment. And any potential challenger thinking Kshama Sawant's surprising victory was some sort of mass hysterical fluke that will make her easy pickings in two years, better study the map above.
Sawant may have only beaten 16-year incumbent Richard Conlin by a 50.7 percent to 49.0 percent margin citywide, but within the precincts that are entirely within the new District 3 boundaries, she racked up an impressive 58.5 percent to 40.5 percent victory. That's 58.5 percent of the vote for a political newcomer immigrant women of color openly running under the Socialist banner against a scandal-free pro-enviro four-term incumbent. Kinda stunning.
Also stunning is the stark divisions between District 3 neighborhoods and within the electorate in general: You were either with Sawant or against Sawant. Where Sawant won—mostly on Capitol Hill and in the Central Area—she tended to win big, with more than 65 percent of the vote. Where Sawant lost—mostly lakefront neighborhoods and other wealthy enclaves—voters went 65 percent or more for Conlin.
Just look how straight some of those lines are, with voters on the wealthier side of the street voting one way and voters on the other side voting the other. This is a map that represents divisions over inequality of income and opportunity, as well as attitudes over urbanism and density. And that's not a tension that's likely to resolve itself within two years.
I'm open to the possibility that Sawant might prove a disaster in office (though barring a scandal, is it really possible to be a disastrous council member?), but I suspect that Sawant will actually prove even more formidable the next time around. Of course she'll have the advantages of incumbency—higher name ID, more earned media, greater access to fundraising and endorsements. But I also suspect she'll have at least one significant legislative victory under her belt. Sawant ran on a $15 an hour minimum wage, and with Mayor-elect Ed Murray and nearly the entire council now backing the proposal to one degree or another, it seems likely that Sawant will be able to deliver.
That and the strong support she already enjoys in her district could make Sawant one of the least vulnerable incumbents in 2015. Challengers beware!
Now that dueling gun initiatives I-591 and I-594 have both collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, Slog reader Joe asks the following interesting question:
On next year's November election, I-591 bans background checks for all gun sales, retail or private being more stringent than whatever the current Federal level is set to. I-594 requires background checks for all gun sales, retail or private, at a much higher than Federal level.
What happens under our system if both pass?
The simple answer is that the measure receiving the most votes wins. The more complicated answer, according to Article II, Section 1 of the Washington State Constitution:
When conflicting measures are submitted to the people the ballots shall be so printed that a voter can express separately by making one cross (X) for each, two preferences, first, as between either measure and neither, and secondly, as between one and the other. If the majority of those voting on the first issue is for neither, both fail, but in that case the votes on the second issue shall nevertheless be carefully counted and made public. If a majority voting on the first issue is for either, then the measure receiving a majority of the votes on the second issue shall be law.
And since these are both being submitted as initiatives to the legislature, it's potentially even a bit more complicated than that. Technically, the legislature has the option of sending to the people an alternative to each initiative, meaning the ballot could potentially offer a choice between four competing gun measures. (That said, we all know that legislators are just going to punt on these measures, because that's the kind of legislators we have.)
SeaTac Prop 1, which would guarantee a $15 minimum wage and other benefits to thousands of hospitality and airport workers, picked up 16 of the 20 ballots counted today to extend its lead to 69 votes out of 5,983 ballots cast, a 1.2 percent margin. Just in case you wanted to know.
In case you're wondering, SeaTac Prop 1—the $15 minimum wage initiative—picked up seven of the nine ballots counted today to extend its lead to a commanding 57 votes out 5,963 cast. Prop 1 now leads by almost a full percentage point, way outside a margin that could produce the slightest drop of drama. Still, expect Alaska Airlines to pay for a recount anyway, because it has plenty of money to spend on just about everything but paying its ground crew and ramp workers a living wage.
And yes, Kshama Sawant extended her margin too. She now leads Richard Conlin 50.64 percent to 49.00 percent, and by 3,021 votes.
SeaTac Prop 1, which would guarantee a $15 an hour minimum wage to thousands of hospitality and airport workers, won a stunning 80 percent of today's ballot drop! Of course, there were only 10 ballots counted today, but that still increased Prop 1's margin by 6 votes, a 14 percent increase over yesterday's margin. Prop 1 now leads 3003 to 2951 with a negligible number of ballots left to count.
Meanwhile, Kshama Sawant has expanded her lead to 3,008 votes and a 50.64 percent to 49 percent margin. It's barely even close anymore.
Yes, they're still counting ballots in King County, and yes there's still one race left to decide. Except, not really. SeaTac Prop 1, the $15 minimum wage initiative, evenly split today's batch of 118 ballots, leaving the measure up by 46 votes, 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent, with few ballots left remaining to count. In fact, the latest reports show SeaTac counting 6,046 ballots, despite having only 6,039 ballots verified and ready to count. (The county reports receiving 6,199 ballots, but these ballot reports are always unofficial and subject to change. Typically, about 2 to 3 percent of received ballots won't be counted because they arrived too late or did not include valid signatures.)
A few more ballots will certainly be added to the mix by the November 25 deadline, but unless somebody is sitting on a batch of 47 no votes, this race is over.
Meanwhile, Kshama Sawant continued to build her lead over Richard Conlin with yet another strong batch of late ballots. Sawant now leads by 2,967 votes, 50.63 percent to 49.01 percent. That represents 1.62 percent lead and a stunning 9.05 percent swing from election night. I don't believe that we have ever seen a campaign close this strong since King County went to all vote-by-mail elections.
If every Democratic establishment insider who now says they voted for Kshama Sawant actually voted for Kshama Sawant, she would've won! Oh. Wait. She did.
Of course Sawant won support from rank and file Democrats—that's the only way to win a citywide election in Seattle—but you'd be surprised at some of the party officials and prominent allies who've privately told me that they also voted for Sawant. The all-powerful SEIU 775NW officially endorsed incumbent Richard Conlin, but I haven't talked to a staffer there who says they voted for him. Likewise, Conlin's pro-environment record earned him the endorsement of the Cascade chapter of the Sierra Club, but executive committee chair Dan Schwartz made a point of publicly endorsing Sawant. And the King County Labor Council (KCLC) also endorsed Conlin, yet at Sawant's victory rally yesterday, KCLC executive secretary David Freiboth kicked off his comments by saying "this is one of the few times I'm happy we were wrong."
I suspect even a couple council members may have cast their ballots for Sawant, and not out of any enmity for their outgoing colleague. Sawant and her Socialist Alternative comrades ran an authentically outsider grassroots campaign, but in doing so they won the hearts and votes of a helluva lot of political insiders. Sure, there are establishment types (particularly the chamber crowd) who desperately want to see Sawant fail, and who would be eager to sabotage her abbreviated first term in office. And there are Democratic Party regulars who rightly fear that Sawant's win could erode the party's stranglehold on nonpartisan elections.
But there are a lot of insiders who want to see her succeed, too. It may prove an uncomfortable alliance at times, but Sawant is perfectly capable of working within the existing politic system even as she strives to change it.
Nationally the headlines have focused on Sawant's avowed socialism, and why not? It's a great headline. This may be the most impressive electoral victory by a US socialist in more than a century. But considering all of Sawant's support from the usual suspects, was it a victory for socialism?
In an uncharacteristically lucid column, Crosscut contributor Ted Van Dyk says no:
Analysts would be mistaken to credit Sawant's Socialist platform for her success. Her success, instead, should be attributed mainly to voter impatience with incumbents and to the fact that she was the only challenger who ran a vigorous, credible campaign.
Van Dyk is at least partially right. Sawant tapped into an incredible amount of voter discontent, and ran a surprisingly vigorous and credible campaign. But part of her success on both those counts was due to the fact that her main issues—a living wage, affordable housing, and economic inequality—resonated with voters, many whom (or their children) are being crushed beneath an economy where the balance of power between labor and capital has grown grotesquely unbalanced in favor of the few. Only a tiny fraction of Sawants 90,000-plus votes came from people who self-identify as "socialists." But that doesn't mean her socialist agenda didn't appeal to a helluva lot of voters.
Absent reliable exit polling, the only thing you can reliable say on this subject is that Sawant's Socialist Alternative label didn't hurt her. Some, like Van Dyk, voted for Sawant in spite of her socialism. For many other voters, the label just didn't matter. They liked Sawant and they liked a lot of what she was saying, and that was good enough.
And in that sense, within the larger American historical context, yeah—Sawant's victory really was a big victory for socialism. It wasn't so long ago that Ronald Reagan succeeded in turning "liberal" into a pejorative. Yet two weeks ago in a major American city (a city even bigger in cultural influence than it is in size), a "Socialist" won a citywide election.
This may not prove a harbinger of a coming socialist revolution. But it does prove the willingness of Seattle voters to consider socialism to be a serious part of the public debate. And that is a victory in itself.
Not that it matters anymore, but King County Elections released another batch this afternoon, further padding Kshama Sawant's lead. After winning 56.7 percent of today's batch of 4,581 ballots, Sawant now leads 16-year incumbent city council member Richard Conlin 50.46 percent to 49.29 percent and 2,289 votes. There are about 4,300 ballots left to count.
It's an incredibly stunning late-ballot turnaround. On election night, Conlin led Sawant 53.56 percent to 46.13. Sawant's 8.6 point late-ballot swing will forever change the way we evaluate election night results.
Meanwhile down in SeaTac, the $15 minimum wage Prop 1 continues to cling onto a slim lead as the ballot bins run dry. Prop 1 is now passing by a 46-vote margin with about 115 ballots left to count.
FYI, if you're looking to celebrate Sawant's victory and the $15 minimum wage issue she campaigned on, join Sawant and hundreds of supporters at a victory rally, Sunday, 2:30 p.m., at SEIU Local 775NW Headquarters Auditorium, 215 Columbia Street in Seattle. Geo of Blue Scholars will be performing. Doors open at 2 p.m.: "$10 suggested donation (no one turned away)."
It was inevitable, of course, that Kshama Sawant's election to the Seattle City Council as an avowed Socialist was a story that would eventually go national, and so it was no surprise to see her tonight on MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes. She could've cracked a smile (anybody who's spent some time with her knows that she knows how), but otherwise I think Sawant did great for her first time on national television.
Socialist Alternative challenger Kshama Swant captured 56.3 percent of today's 3,548 ballot batch, to take a commanding 1,640-vote, 50.3 percent to 49.4 percent lead over 16-year incumbent Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin. Conlin is planning to make a statement at 5 p.m. in which he is expected to concede.
In other races, SeaTac Prop 1—the $15 minimum wage initiative—gave up a few votes to the no side in a tiny 88-ballot batch. Prop 1 now leads by 49 votes out 5,709 ballots cast, 50.43 percent to 49.57 percent. Prop 1 led by a slightly more comfortable 53 votes after yesterday's drop.
The dregs of the ballot batches are unpredictable, but with only about 220 ballots left to count, the odds are likely that Prop 1 will prevail. There is no automatic recount in city ballot measures, but expect Alaska Airlines and friends to pay for one.
As for Seattle Prop 1—public campaign financing—close, but no cigar.
UPDATE: Conlin has conceded; Dom will post from City Hall. So it's official: Seattle has elected a Socialist to city council in a citywide, at-large election.
With a total of 171,858 ballots counted, Socialist Alternative challenger Kshama Sawant has climbed to a 1,148-vote, 50.2 percent to 49.5 percent lead over 16-year incumbent Richard Conlin in their race for Seattle City Council. Sawant won a healthy 55.4 percent of today's batch of 5,646 ballots, extending her total lead outside the margin of an automatic recount. Conlin would need to win better than 55 percent of the approximately 11,000 ballots remaining in order to take back the lead.
Fat lady, sing.
In other races, supporters of SeaTac Prop 1, the $15 minimum wage initiative, are exhaling a tiny sigh of relief after the "yes" vote's 62 percent of today's ballot drop increased it's total lead to 53 votes out 5,621 counted. This was the "yes" side's best percentage performance of any batch, but only 142 ballots were counted. Yesterday, Prop 1 led by only 19 votes. There are only about 300 ballots remaining, but since these could be coming from anywhere, they defy prediction.
As for Seattle's Prop 1—public campaign financing—it looks like too little too late. The "yes" side continued to close the gap, picking up 52.3 percent of today's 5,908 ballot batch. But that's just not enough. It continues to trail 50.7 to 49.3, and by 2,656 votes.
I got an email last night from Estevan Munoz-Howard of Fair Elections Seattle, insisting that Seattle Prop 1 (public campaign financing) is not actually dead yet. "If overall trends continue, we may just squeak by," says Munoz-Howard. "We'll also be chasing ballots this weekend and would love to get as many folks out to help as possible."
Hmm. The yes vote's 50.3 percent share of yesterday's drop was disappointing. But okay. Yeah. Trailing by less than 3,000 votes with about 18,000 left to count in the race, I suppose it is still remotely conceivable that Prop 1 could squeak by. But if it does, the campaign is going to have to cure every challenged ballot it can find. And they need your help.
The campaign is looking for volunteers to fill slots ballot chasing in various precincts—you can fill out this form to offer your help. And since Prop 1 ballots likely lean toward Kshama Sawant as well, your efforts would help both campaigns at once. So volunteer!
As expected, Socialist Alternative challenger Kshama Sawant expanded her lead over 16-year incumbent Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin in today's ballot drop. She now leads by 402 votes, 49.99 percent to 49.75 percent.
Sawant's margins were way down from previous batches, at only 52.1 percent of the 6,418 ballots added to the count. But before Conlin supporters console themselves at the news, part of this was due to a chunk of write-in ballots added to the drop: 91 write-ins, or 1.4 percent of the drop, leaving Conlin with only 46.5 percent. By comparison, only 0.26 percent of all ballots in the race have contained write-in votes thus far. By my calculations, Conlin would need to win more than 51.2 percent of the remaining ballots to take the lead—a threshold that will only increase as Sawant adds to her lead and the number of ballots remaining dwindles.
In other races, SeaTac Prop 1, the $15 minimum wage initiative, is now leading by only 19 votes after the "no" side picked up 57.7 percent of today's 156 ballot drop. Honestly, this doesn't look good. And Seattle Prop 1, public campaign financing, only scored a 40-vote advantage out of 6,702 ballots counted—it now trails 49.2 percent to 50.8 percent, a likely insurmountable 2,926-vote margin. Ah well.
Can't remember ever linking to a parenting magazine, but Alison Krupnick at Parent Map has a short and interesting writeup on the school-board race between corporate-funded Suzanne Dale Estey and activist Sue Peters, which Peters—rather surprisingly—won. It includes this bit about negative campaigning by an outside PAC that favored Dale Estey:
Negative tactics used earlier by the Dale Estey campaign had been poorly received by the public, an ironic twist of events, because Peters entered the race with an abrasive reputation and Dale Estey portrayed herself as a peacemaker.
Dale Estey, who claimed not to be aware of or in control of some of her campaign P.R. machinery, also admitted to me on Election Night that such tactics are a calculated risk. She said experts had told her that the gains from negative publicity far outstrip the losses.
This blind faith in "experts" contradicts the image Dale Estey sought to portray, that of a homegrown girl in touch with the concerns of Seattle families. Had she listened to the people whose doorbells she rang, instead of experts, and followed her own instincts, she might have understood early on that negativity was a problem, especially when negative ads were purchased by wealthy donors.
Nationally, critics of corporate education reform cite arrogance as an ongoing concern, with too much reliance on the opinions of "experts," who often come from the private sector, and not enough reliance on the opinions of educators.
That article also includes news that Garfield teacher Jesse Hagopian is "reportedly interested" in running for president of the Seattle teachers' union (SEA) when current president Jonathan Knapp's term expires in 2014. Hagopian, you may remember, led the organized boycott of the MAP standardized test last school year and once mic-checked the state house over budget cuts. Seeing him head up the union would sure be interesting.
UPDATE 3:57 p.m.: I reached out to Hagopian to confirm the rumor and he just got back to me to say he'd "have a lot of things in [his] personal life to weigh" before deciding to run for SEA president, noting that he has two kids at home, but that he has been asked by other teachers to consider it. "I'm still a ways off from being able to make that call," he says.
Of all the media fervor over yesterday's stunning reversal in the Sawant-Conlin race, the headline that most caught my attention was this one from Q13Fox: "Who is Seattle City Council candidate Kshama Sawant?"
Um... isn't that a question you might have wanted to ask on behalf of your viewers before the election?
I keep hearing from critics that had more voters truly understood who Sawant is and the Socialist agenda she promotes, Seattle voters might have been more reluctant to hazard a vote on her. I don't think so. Though maybe. But the point is, even as Sawant surged, most of our news media treated Sawant and her Socialist Alternative comrades as little more than a novelty: "Ha, ha! A Socialist! Isn't that cute!" Or something.
Six months ago I could at least understand their skepticism. But once Sawant won an impressive 35 percent of the vote in a three-way primary, that narrative should have changed. She was winning over crowds at candidate forums. She was attracting volunteers and raising money. She was gaining momentum. Even without the benefit of hindsight it was clear that Sawant had a chance of winning. Not a huge chance, but a chance. But few in our local media took Sawant as seriously as, say, chamber-backed 33-percent-winner Albert Shen.
And that's why a week after the election some journalists are left asking questions about Sawant that they should have asked weeks before.
Just thought I'd take a moment to clear up another point of confusion. Campaigns have been urging supporters to go to King County Elections' Ballot Tracker page to make sure that their ballots have been counted. It's easy—just type in your name and your birthday, and you should get back something like this:
If you get to Track Point #3, you're done. I know it says that "your ballot will be counted," not "has been counted," but don't worry. The county can't actually track your ballot through counting because once it's separated from your outer envelope, your ballot cannot be traced back to you. Secret ballot, and all that. Your ballot has been or will be counted. That's what this screen means. Success!
But if at this late stage you're stuck at Track Point #2, then you may have a problem. Call King County elections at 206-296-8683 and ask for help.
A quick note on the numbers of ballots left to count in the Conlin-Sawant race for all those who may be confused by the wildly varying estimates the media have put out there.
Here's the skinny: As of 8 p.m. yesterday, King County Elections (KCE) reports that it has received 216,947 ballots in Seattle, of which 213,023 are "ready for counting," a number that includes all ballots that survived the initial signature verification process, plus those that challenged ballots that have been "cured." Of those, 186,672 ballots have already been counted. Which means that there are an absolute minimum of 26,351 ballots awaiting to be counted in Seattle, for 12.4 percent those ballots that have been received and verified.
Of course, only about 85 percent of Seattle ballots have contained a vote in the Conlin-Sawant race, so there are likely only about 22,550 ballots left to count there—again, roughly 12 percent of the total ballots that will be counted. (A few more ballots will trickle in as challenged ballots get cured.)
FYI, another 860 vote advantage for Sawant would put this race outside of automatic recount territory, a total she would reach by winning only 51.9 percent of the remaining ballots. Considering her totals in the post-election ballot counts, that is a threshold that she will almost certainly pass.
Oops! One week after 16-year Seattle City Council incumbent Richard Conlin claimed an election night victory with a seemingly invincible 7.5 percent margin, his socialist challenger, Kshama Sawant, stunningly grabbed the lead. When The Stranger went to press Tuesday night, Sawant was narrowly leading Conlin by 41 votes, 49.91 percent to 49.88 percent.
Conlin's 6,136-vote election night cushion had been dwindling all week as late ballots trended hard in Sawant's favor: Sawant won 49.9 percent of the batch of ballots counted on Wednesday, 54.2 percent of Thursday's batch, and 56.5 percent of Friday's. The Tuesday, November 12, batch continued the trend, going 57.4 percent in Sawant's favor.
With about 12 percent of the ballots still left to count, the margin is too narrow to call the race. But I'm calling it anyway: Sawant wins!
To understand my confidence, you need to understand the way ballots are counted in our all-vote-by-mail elections.
Never one to rest for even a moment, she told the room this is just the beginning. "We are just on the cusp of bigger things," she said. "Winning this seat on the city council is just the first step. The next is the $15 minimum wage. We are going to forge ahead for $15 an hour in Seattle." Her campaign staff confirms that she'll introduce a minimum-wage ordinance if she makes it to council (which, again, is looking increasingly inevitable), but if it fails, she'll help build a movement to get it on the ballot, a la SeaTac.
She also called out the stupid, stupid Forbes article that questioned her ability to be an economics professor if she's silly enough to be a socialist. Laughingly calling it "poorly written" and a sign that "the right wing [is] panicked," she continued: "The eyes of the left, nationally and internationally, are on Seattle"—due to both her campaign and the SeaTac minimum wage campaign. And she says the "manifest take-home message" of her success in Seattle is that the old rules of left-wing politics no longer apply. Seeking the endorsement and support of the Democratic Party? You can win without it. Taking money from big business? You can skip it. "How do we take money out of politics?" she says she was asked over and over by Occupiers. Her answer today: "This is how you take money out of politics!"
And she says that while it's great that mayor-elect Ed Murray has endorsed a higher minimum wage, "We were calling for that before it became cool." His phase-it-in-over-an-unspecified-number-of-years timeline is too wishy-washy. Her timeline for a $15-an-hour campaign? Next year.
The latest results are in, and one week after 16-year Seattle City Council incumbent Richard Conlin claimed victory with a seemingly invincible 7.5 percent margin, Socialist Alternative challenger Kshama Sawant has taken a 49.91 to 49.88 percent, 41 vote lead!
While that's an admittedly tiny margin, it came on the back of another big win in today's ballot drop. Sawant won 57.4 percent of the ballots counted today, her second best batch thus far. Sawant would now need to win only 49.9 percent of the remaining ballots to hold her lead. Given the late ballot trend, she'll almost certainly far exceed that. I confidently project a Sawant victory.
In other news, SeaTac Prop 1, the $15 minimum wage initiative, has maintained a 43 vote lead by splitting today's drop of 278 ballots. That's far better than the recent batches, which the no vote won by as much as 63 percent, and suggests a gradual trend back in the yes vote's favor. But these batches are so small it's hard to say whether this is a trend or an anomaly. So be nervous.
Meanwhile, Seattle's Prop 1, public campaign financing, continues its strong comeback, winning 55.3 percent of today's batch, and now trails by 2,966 votes, 49.11 percent to 50.89 percent. Its margins suggest Prop 1 will still fall slightly short, but it'll be damn close. So cross your fingers!
Four-term Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin is still clinging to a 1,237 vote lead over Socialist Kshama Sawant, but the post-mortem is already in progress. So on what does Conlin blame his electoral woes?
Conlin, who was considered a staunch liberal when he first joined the council in 1998 and had never won less than 60 percent of the general election vote since, has a less ambitious theory.
He argued that asking voters for a fifth term is always a stretch.
“I think I started off with that kind of handicap,” he said, adding that “relentless negative campaigning” by Sawant’s cheering squad at The Stranger also hurt him.
Hey, thanks for the call out, Richard. It's always good to feel relevant. But while I'm no stranger to mud-flinging (in fact, David Irons, Doug Sutherland, Rob McKenna and others can attest that I'm pretty damn good at it), what I'm proudest of in our coverage of this race was how relentlessly positive we were. Sure, we collectively took a few swipes at Conlin. But that was never our focus. No, if we were relentless about anything it was in making the case for Sawant.
While others dismissed Sawant as little more than an electoral novelty, we saw in her a smart, thoughtful, and passionate voice for economic justice, with some surprisingly impressive political instincts. And while few insiders considered Conlin to be genuinely vulnerable, we watched with growing respect as Sawant and her organization both tapped into voter discontent and transformed it into electoral support.
If we were a bit obsessed with this race it was because of all the candidates running this cycle, we saw Sawant as offering the most political upside. Just coming close would be a big win for the economic agenda Sawant was pushing: A living wage, affordable housing, and progressive taxation. But winning—well, that would not only improve the council by providing a little ideological balance (you know, somebody to boldly and cogently refute supply-side economics), it would send political shockwaves nationwide.
Knocking down Conlin would've been easy; you don't even need the truth on your side to run an effective negative campaign. But the real challenge was building up Sawant. That's why our primary focus during this campaign was attempting to share with readers the Sawant that won us over, and in doing so help mainstream Seattle voters get beyond their reflexive response to Sawant's "Socialist Alternative" label. Personally, of the thousands of words I wrote on this race over the past six months, almost all of them were relentlessly positive words about Sawant and what she would bring to the table. And if Conlin misreads that as “relentless negative campaigning," then it only confirms my suspicion that sometime during his 16 years of incumbency, Conlin lost the ability to distinguish the difference between himself and his office.
Socialist Alternative challenger Kshama Sawant won a dominating 58.44 percent of the 8,591 ballots added in tonight's 8:30 p.m. drop, more than halving four-term incumbent Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin's earlier 2,691 vote lead. Conlin now leads by a mere 1,237 votes and a 50.31 to 49.49 percent margin, a stunning reversal from his 6,136 vote, 7.5 point election night margin.
According to King County Elections, 216,226 ballots have been received in Seattle, and 176,836 have already been counted (151,399 in this race); only 84.08 percent of the ballots counted in tonight's drop included votes in the Conlin/Sawant race. Figuring that 1.5 percent of ballots will not be counted due to signature and other problems, I figure that
((216,226-176,836)*.985)*.8408 ((216,226*.985)-176,836)*.8408 equals 32,622 30,392 ballots left to count in the race. Give or take. Sawant would now need slightly more than 51.9 52.04 percent of the remaining vote take the lead. Considering that she has cumulatively won 53.5 percent of the ballots counted since post-election night, it is hard not to project Sawant ultimately winning.
Meanwhile down in SeaTac, the $15 an hour minimum wage Proposition 1 has slowed its bleeding. The "no" vote won 56 percent of tonight's 100 ballot drop, down from 59 percent of the previous drop and 63 percent of the drop before that. Prop 1 won now leads by a mere 43 vote, 50.43 to 49.57 margin. Still, with about 1,000 ballots left to count, the numbers don't look great for Prop 1.
Thanks to the three-day holiday weekend, these are the last results we'll see until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. But if I were a Conlin staffer, I'd take advantage of the break to start spiffing up my resumé.
UPDATE: One more intriguing observation. While we've all been busy tracking the Conlin/Sawant and SeaTac Prop 1 contests, the "yes" vote on Seattle Prop 1 (public campaign finances) has been quietly but steadily closing the gap. On election night, Seattle Prop 1 was losing by a 7,112 vote, 45.89 to 54.11 percent margin. After tonight's count it is losing by a 3,889, 48.78 to 51.22 percent margin. By my calculations (which I won't go into here), Prop 1 would need to win more than 55.74 percent of the remaining ballots to win. It won 55.68 percent of tonight's batch. So while it's unlikely, given the swings we've seen in the contests above, it's not beyond the realm of the possible.
UPDATE: An error in my calculations led to a slightly inflated estimate of the number of ballots left to be counted—I've updated the the post accordingly.
The two most symbolic contests in Tuesday's election tightened further this afternoon as late ballots continued to trend sharply against the presumptive election night winners.
With 142,808 ballots counted, Seattle City Council incumbent Richard Conlin now leads Socialist Alternative challenger Kshama Sawant by a mere 2,691 votes, for a 50.84 to 48.96 percent margin. Sawant shaved off another 1,514 votes from Conlin's lead in this afternoon's ballot drop, winning a healthy 55.29 percent of the 14,201 ballots added to the count, a slight drop off from her 55.81 percent win in the previous batch. Conlin had led Sawant on election night by 6,136 votes and a seemingly safe 53.56 to 46.13 percent margin.
Building off my earlier calculations, Sawant now needs to win about 53.5 percent of the remaining ballots to take the lead. Entirely doable considering the recent margins.
But as heartening as these results might be for Sawant supporters, they are sure to be disappointed by what's happening in SeaTac, where the late ballots continue to come in sharply opposed to the city's $15 an hour minimum wage Proposition 1. The "no" vote won this afternoon's ballot drop by a 59 to 41 percent margin—down from its 63.2 to 36.8 percent margin in the previous drop, but still far more than enough to project Prop 1's loss. The "yes" vote now leads by only 55 votes and a 50.56 to 49.44 percent margin.
King County Elections will release another batch of results tonight at 8:30 p.m. before shutting down for the three-day weekend.
A surprisingly large swing in late ballot returns appears to be on target to potentially produce shocking reversals of the presumed election night results in the contest for SeaTac Proposition 1 and the race between incumbent Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin and Socialist Alternative challenger Kshama Sawant.
Both Conlin and Prop 1 (which would establish a $15 an hour minimum wage for most Sea-Tac Airport workers) enjoyed about a 54 percent to 46 percent lead on election night, a seemingly safe eight-point margin. But as late ballots were tallied over the past two days, those gaps quickly closed. With approximately 70 percent of ballots counted, Conlin now leads Sawant by only 51.5 to 48.3 percent, while Prop 1 is hanging on with just under 51.6 percent "yes" vote.
More alarming for Prop 1 is the strength of the "no" vote in recent ballot drops. "No" captured 57.4 percent of today's 4:30 p.m. drop, and a crushing 63.2 percent of the 8:30 p.m. drop. Over 55 percent of the ballots counted since election night have voted no, a trend that if it holds, would certainly send Prop 1 to defeat.
The Conlin/Sawant race remains more on the cusp. Sawant won 55.8 percent of today's 8:30 p.m. drop, and a cumulative 52.1 percent of all ballots counted since election day, cutting Conlin's lead down to 4,205 votes out of 128,607 that have been counted thus far. King County Elections reports receiving 213,938 ballots in Seattle thus far—a few hundred more may arrive, but let's conservatively say 1.5 percent of the total won't be counted due to missing signatures and other problems, leaving us with a total turnout of about 211,000 ballots. 143,165 ballots have been counted in the mayor's race—presuming 98 percent of Seattle voters cast a vote for mayor (a typical rate for the race at the top of the ticket), that means about 146,000 Seattle ballots have been counted thus far, leaving about 65,000 left to count.
But not all of those 65,000 ballots will contain votes in the Conlin/Sawant race. Across all ballots tallied, the drop-off from the mayor's race to the Conlin/Sawant race has been about 10 percent, but it dropped off by 15 percent in the 8:30 p.m. batch. Assuming that worst case scenario, that means there are only about 55,250 votes left to tally in this race. Divide the current 4,205 by the 55,250 ballots, and you get a 7.6 percent margin. That means Sawant would have to win a little more than 53.8 percent of the remaining votes to win. You know, give or take.
To be clear, that's not a hard and fast number. I don't really know how many remaining ballots there are to count in this race. And of course, I've no idea if the late ballot trends will hold up. I'm just taking an educated guess. But the point is, a Sawant victory is possible. Or at least, it's a helluva lot more possible than it appeared to be on election night.
The Kshama Sawant for Seattle City Council campaign has just sent out a press release that breaks down a late-return ballot trend heading their direction. The results on election night showed Sawant earning only 46 percent of the vote; she took 53 percent of the latest batch, slowly inching her toward the halfway mark. The campaign says if the surge holds up as more ballots are counted, Sawant could win the race against incumbent Richard Conlin, and they are preparing for a possible recount. Their explanation is after the jump.
I wrote yesterday about the city council districting proposal, Charter Amendment 19, which passed with a wide margin and will fundamentally change the way we elect the city council, starting in 2015.
One question that's come up for lots of people is how, exactly, the boundaries are to be changed, which the amendment dictates should happen after every US census. That means the first real opportunity to change the district boundaries comes after the 2020 census. So let's take a quick look at the language governing the eventual Districting Commission, huh?
The important points:
• The deadline to form that first commission is October 31, 2022.
• The commission will have five members. Two are appointed by the mayor, two are appointed by a two-thirds vote of the city council, and a fifth member is appointed by majority vote of the first four members. The amendment's language bars anyone from serving on the commission "who is an elected official (except precinct committee officer), a registered lobbyist, a candidate for elective office, or a City employee."
• The commission then appoints a "districting master" who, the amendment language states, "shall be qualified by education, training and experience to draw a districting plan." If they can't agree on someone, the mayor appoints the districting master.
• Public forums on the new district plan have to be held in each existing council district.
• District boundaries should be drawn to create "compact and contiguous districts" and the populations of the largest and smallest districts must be within 1 percent of each other. Boundaries should follow, "to the extent practical," existing district boundaries, the city's geography, and the city's neighborhoods.
• After the commission drafts, makes public, approves by majority vote, and files a plan with the city clerk, "the plan shall become effective upon filing and cannot be amended by the City Council except to correct data errors upon request by the districting Commission."
Them's the basics. Wonk harder with the full text of the redistricting commission language after the jump!
If this election is a story about the triumphs of big money and negative campaigning over rogue progressives, the race for the District 4 seat on Seattle Public Schools' board doesn't fit the narrative.
Activist and blogger Sue Peters—endorsed by the SECB—has won. She was vastly outspent by her opponent, Suzanne Dale Estey, who raked in campaign donations from charter schools supporters and refused to condemn sleazy mailers attacking Peters.
Trailing in tallied votes by roughly four percentage points (a 52%/48% split), however, Dale Estey called Peters on Wednesday night to concede. "I wish Sue and the entire board great success in their work for Seattle’s 51,000+ public school students," she says on her campaign's Facebook page.