It has been conventional wisdom in recent elections – especially since all-mail voting became the law in 2011 – that ballots counted after election night tended to favor the more liberal candidate in a race. It seems more Republicans tended to vote soon after receiving their ballots, while more Democrats waited until the last weekend to send their votes in.
That trend has been turned on its head this year. Whether it was because Republicans were waiting because they were unsure of what to do in the presidential race, or because their campaign operatives did a better job of getting their less-likely voters to cast a ballot, things have been looking up since November 9 for the GOP.
Consider that since election night Republicans have come from behind to take the lead in two State House races (Jay Rodne in the 5th and Jim Walsh in the 19th), and have extended close leads in the 5th, 17th and 28thdistricts. What appeared to be a marginally good election day for House Speaker Frank Chopp and his team – picking up two or three seats – has since returned to the same margin the Democrats had before election day, a slim 50-48 advantage.
And even that edge could be in jeopardy, as Republican incumbent Rep. Teri Hickel now trails by only 806 votes (50.9-49.1%) in the Federal Way-based 30th District, after being behind by 1,129 on election night. She still has a long ways to go, but with perhaps more than 7,000 votes still to count, she could cause Chopp a few more sleepless nights.
Another Democrat who probably isn’t sleeping as well is the 5th District’s accidental State Senator, Mark Mullet. Elected on a fluke in 2012, Mullet led Republican Rep. Chad Magendanz 53.1-46.9% on election night, and had an advantage of more than 2,800 votes.
That margin is now 830 votes, Mullet’s percentage is 50.6%, and King County may have more than 8,000 votes to count.
A Magendanz win would be critical, as it would give the Majority Coalition Caucus – assuming Democrat Tim Sheldon continues to caucus with the GOP – the same advantage (26-23) it had going into the election, as opposed to the one-vote lead (25-24) that is currently in place.
Whatever the reason for this after-election success, Republicans will certainly take it, after watching leads disappear in recent elections.