Opinion

Democrats struggle for survival in November | Bob Roegner

Can anything save the Democrats this year?

According to the experts I consulted, the only thing that can save the Democrats...is the Republicans! That, and maybe a bigger turnout than is expected now. The public is angry and fearful, and that is always a bad sign for the party in power. In both Washingtons, the party in power is the Democrats.

Republicans came into this year hoping to cut into the Democratic margins and take control in 2012. But with voters upset, they started to believe they might have a chance at winning control this year in both places.

In this state and nationally, elections are decided by the 17 percent to 25 percent of independents who tend to be moderates. In this state, they historically break to Democrats, and nationwide, they tend to break to Republican.

But nationally, Republican ardor was cooled a little after the primary when so many conservative candidates with Tea Party ties defeated moderate Republicans. The political problem is that many of these winners were not supported by the Republican establishment, and as neophyte candidates, were prone to making misstatements when they got away from their scripted message of less government and lower taxes. This opened the door for Democrats to paint them as extremists for independents who could slide toward moderate Democratic candidates. Tea Party candidates did not do well outside of existing conservative areas in this state.

The second key to the election is turnout. Republicans had a reason to go to the polls in the primary and they turned out in high numbers. The Democrats didn't turn out as well, and the 18-29-year-olds that were such a factor in President Obama's election win hardly showed up at all. That's why the president and vice president have been visiting every college campus they can find. At the same time, they are trying to stoke up the Democratic base and make sure they vote. A low turnout benefits Republicans and a big turnout benefits Democrats.

Key races to watch are governorships in New York, California, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Texas and Maine. Redistricting, which will determine Congressional districts, is at stake. Also, watch United States Senate races in Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, Wisconsin and here in Washington. The races for governor and U.S. Senate will reflect the voters' mood.

Having set the frame work, here is what my experts predict. A little drum role please!

Democrats will lose about half of the governorships in play. They will win Senate seats in Delaware and Nevada, but not Kentucky or Wisconsin. They will retain control of the U.S. Senate and Congress, but lose several seats in the process.

Here in the real Washington, they will keep control of the state Legislature, but lose four seats in the Senate. Who are Democratic Senators seen as most likely to lose? Claudia Kauffmann in the 47th District, Eric Oemig in the 45th District, Randy Gordon in the 41st District, and Chris Marr in the 6th District. In a race described by some as the "most wacky" in recent memory, State Sen. Pam Roach in the 31st District will defeat a fellow Republican who appears to have more problems then she has. Even the Democrats endorsed her.

The Democrats will still control the House but will also lose seats. Incumbent Democrats Dawn Morrell (District 25) and Tami Green (District 28) are in trouble, but appear they will survive. Hans Dunshee in Snohomish County, Geoff Simpson in Covington and Kelli Linville in Whatcom may not be so lucky.

On the initiative front, I-1107 to repeal the "7-11" taxes will pass. Initiatives to move alcohol sales from the state to the private sector, I-1100 and I-1105, have both stalled and don't appear they will pass. I-1053, which would reinstate the requirement for a two-thirds vote of the legislature for a tax increase was sailing along, but now it's a tossup. A fun one to watch has been I-1098, which would establish an income tax on high earners. It's always fun to think there is someone else out there who will pay the bill for the services we want and the "rich" seem like a good target. But when voters realized that the Legislature could change the formula and that their children would have to pay the bill, support started to drop. This looks like it will lose. I-1082, which would authorize private industrial insurance, will fail.

Next week, we will look at the Patty Murray-Dino Rossi race for U.S. Senate, along with Congress, Federal Way's first elected mayor, and local legislative races.

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