Election day, is still a couple months away but I’m ready to make some predictions on how our state will vote. I think Washington will cast its votes for Democrat Barack Obama for president and Republican Dino Rossi for governor. Here’s why.
The actual winner of the presidential race will be decided in half a dozen other States. But Washington is one of the “Dukakis 10” States – places so Blue in political hue that even when the Democrats ran the forlorn, emotionless Michael Dukakis for president in 1988, we were one of 10 states to vote for him. There’s a chance that John McCain catches fire here – he’s independent minded like so many folks around the state, and he’s electrified the race by picking Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate – but Washington remains a high mountain to climb for any Republican presidential candidate.
Barack Obama’s popularity has many state Democrats excited about a top-to-bottom mandate for the Democratic ticket, but not likely to happen. Two important realities intrude.
Reality number one: Obama is running on a theme of ending one era and beginning another. He knows that people want change. But it’s not like the first congressional elections after the death of FDR in 1946 when the Republicans ran on a two-word theme: “Had Enough?”
People then were exhausted with New Deal liberalism. But this year, public approval rates are even lower for the Democrat-controlled Congress than they are for the Bush White House. People are not voting to end an ideology, they are voting to end to the status quo. Both Obama and McCain will do that.
But who offers change in Washington state? People are also weary of the status quo here, but Chris Gregoire IS the status quo. She’s been in government since Dino Rossi was a schoolboy. Her administration is staffed by Democrats who’ve been swapping job titles for decades.
She sits atop a culture where reality in the state capitol is seen through two lenses: first, through the eyes of government where most of the Gregoire administration have worked for most of their lives, and second, through the eyes of lobbyists who tell government people in Olympia what people outside the capitol are thinking.
That’s how governments drift out of touch. It’s happened under old line Republicans in Alaska (which is why Sarah Palin was elected in 2006) and it’s happened here under Democrats. That’s why I see a lot of people marking their ballots for both Obama and Rossi.
One final prediction: A larger percentage of the electorate will vote in this election than in any previous one. This will go down as one of the most historic elections in American and Washington state history.