Seattle’s Proposition 1, which partially preserves existing transit taxes, has 82% of counted votes. There aren’t enough uncounted registered voters to mathematically change the result.

As expected, Gov. Inslee is winning easily. Joseph O’Sullivan says ($) that if current results hold, Democrats may gain a Senate Seat at the expense of Sound Transit nemesis Steve O’Ban, extending their new majority.

Everything is still in play at the Federal level, except the House is clearly still Democratic.

47 Replies to “Prop 1 cruises, Washington Democrats in control, Feds TBD”

  1. Pollsters apparently have yet to figure out how to factor in what I call the “Republican shame” factor. In other words, pollsters, the respondent is lying to you. Wise up. This was seen throughout the night in one battleground state after another in both the Presidential and Senate races.

    1. Tlsgwm, I don’t think it has anything at all to do with “shame”. It’s just another juvenile ” eff you” to “the man”. They’re not “shy”; they lie.

      1. It’s interesting that you use the word “shy” there as I was indeed thinking along the lines of the “shy Tory effect or factor” when attempting to come up with an appropriate term for this particular polling issue. “Shy” just seemed to be too congenial of a term for the polling phenomenon we all witnessed in 2016 and, apparently, again last night. I settled on the term “shame” to characterize this observation, admittedly probably influenced somewhat from my own interactions with some associates, friends and family members following the 2016 Presidential election*. Frankly, I’ve been increasingly skeptical of the whole “independent” voter self-identification for some time as I see a chunk of this as another manifestation of a subset of voters who just don’t want to own the Con moniker but still pull the lever, so to speak, for the candidate with the “R” after his or her name at the end of the day.

        *For example, I have an older sibling who is a Republican, who lives in Florida and is actively involved in his local politics (he currently serves as a city council member there and has an “R” on his nameplate). A few months after the 2016 election, we had a family event back in NY and I got the chance to discuss the recent election and the new administration with said sibling. Through several conversations that weekend, I never did get an answer to my very simple question to him: whom did you vote for, for President? I subsequently found out from my sister-in-law that his was indeed a Trump vote whereas his wife voted for Clinton.

      2. Tlsgwm, thank you for an eloquent and perceptive reply. Since there are a large number of “in-your-face” Trump supporters, it does seem odd that some are reticent. But that’s probably just the ordinary span of human variety.

        You are a great addition to the Blog.

    2. Let’s wait for all the mail-in ballots to be counted before we jump to conclusions about the polls. Especially in Pennsylvania.

      There are lots of states out there where the results so far seem to match the pre-election polls almost exactly, and it is very unlikely that Trump voters would lie to pollsters en masse in Wisconsin, but somehow tell pollsters the truth right next door in Minnesota.

      If the current results were to hold, a far more likely explanation would be mistakes in the pollsters weighting and likely voter turnout models than people lying when responding to the actual survey.

      1. Sure. Admittedly my comment above was an early take. It obviously will take some time to unpack the polling and actual results data.

        With that being said, I still stand by my assertion and I think it will hold up as results are eventually certified, particularly in the handful of “close” Senate races where Dems had hoped to flip enough seats to get control of that chamber.

        Fwiw, see item #6…..

        Another story to follow today that is developing right now as I write this is this apparent 300k “missing” mailed ballots in several of these battleground states.

      2. Biden did very well among college educated voters. I think that explains a lot of the performance divergence. By my assessment he won all of the 15 most college educated states and lost only two that are above the US average (Utah and Kansas).

        Colorado is a good example – some said it was a potential long-shot state for Trump. Instead NBC called it as soon as polls closed and Biden is +14. Colorado is (surprisingly, to me at least) the 3rd highest “state” (after DC and MA) for Bachelors attainment.

        Minnesota has a higher proportion of college grads (11th ranked) than Wisconsin (29th) – almost 6 points higher.

        Finally, the struggle for Biden in Nevada is also instructive. Nevada is 47th in college attainment. Trump won almost all of the least college educated states.

      3. “Finally, the struggle for Biden in Nevada is also instructive.”

        Agreed. Additionally, the Dems need to assess what happened in Florida, particularly Miami-Dade Co, in the absolute collapse of Hispanic support there. IIRC, Clinton was +30 there in 2016 with this voting demographic and Biden fell to just +7 last night.

      4. It’s shocking to me that thousands of hispanic kids in cages, and hundreds forever separated from their parents was not enough to deliver Biden unwavering support from the south Florida voters.

        I guess that just isn’t a big issue for those voters.

      5. I think the “Miami-Dade is different” argument that I saw some Democratic strategists making last night is too dismissive of the challenges Democratic candidates faced with maximizing the Hispanic vote. Democrats struggled in a number of districts with larger Hispanic populations that are not demographically analogous to Miami-Dade.

        Democrats underperformed in the Texas border region (not many Cuban-Americans there). The Democratic incumbent in New Mexico-02 (large Hispanic population but also a big oil industry) got crushed by a swing of 10 points against her. They might lose California-48 as well (Orange County beaches), traditional country club Republican territory, but also a meaningful Asian and Hispanic population and a lot of college educated voters.

      6. @Alex — Yeah, and races that were expected to be comfortable (Nevada) aren’t. To be clear, Biden should still win the state, but not by the numbers most expected going in.

        The results definitely shade to the right of the polls. It probably won’t alter the presidential result (only the margin of victory) but it definitely changes the Senate, as well as a few House seats. It also alters some state legislatures, all the more important after a census. If not for the fact that Biden was way ahead in the polls (and will win the popular vote by a big margin) this would have been an awfully depressing result.

        As to the particulars, it will take a while to figure out. Last time they didn’t control for education, and there was a huge divide between how educated whites and not so educated whites voted. We’ll know more about what caused the problems in polling — and ultimately the lost seats — much later.

      7. Tlsgwm, re Miami-Dade. I think that the “Socialist” label stuck there. Lots of the Cuban-born and their descendants live in a relatively small bubble of almost 100% Cuban-Americans. They are completely bi-lingual, but prefer to get their news in Spanish. Many of them probably remember Joe Biden only as Barack Obama’s Vice-President, not as “Joe Lunchbox” in the Senate.

        And of course Obama wanted to open up Cuba, because he thought it would help transform to place into a more gentle place. That didn’t work out, but it did tar him as “negotiating with the enemy”. Biden got tarred, too.

        Clinton, on the other hand, had some tart words [richly deserved] about the Castro brothers as SecState, so she was more acceptable.

      8. Ross,

        I believe that “education” is actually a proxy for “opportunities”. If one has a bachelor’s degree one has choices, and they generally include the sorts of work that are indoor with electronic assistants.

        So for people who simply aren’t genetically pre-disposed to sitting and thinking about things or reading for long periods of time or who were so deprived in their formative years that they simply could not develop the habit, the prospects of life are limited and often grim.

        It’s no wonder they hoot and raspberry higher status monkeys. All the primates engage in that sort of behavior. Because of our technological abilities, we’ve turned it into a life purpose.

      9. Chris I, the kids in the cages weren’t their kids. Their kids were on the Mariel boat-lift and were escorted to shore by whatever ICE called themselves in those days.

    3. It’s like they know it’s wrong or at least know that there are social repercussions for voting Trump, but still do. They’re like children who do the wrong thing even though they know better. For children, it’s because they’re still developing mentally, turn desires for other things into justification for bad actions, and can’t fully self-regulate. Not sure what’s the excuse for voting-age adults.

      This is of course, not the same people who loudly and proudly vote for Trump. That’s a whole other hot mess.

  2. Thanks to you and Seattle Transit Blog, Martin, for making this morning’s [TOPIC] be about transit, not who lied to a “pollster” about what.

    Thank the Lord that the only “polls” that count now are the kind I used to work at in the Ballard VFW Hall so many Elections ago. Because Democracy is really a “People” thing at heart, except in times of pan-DEM-ic, we owe it to our kids to pick them up in our arms, so they can drop the Ballot in the Box. Ok, at five they’re better at ZOOM than I am. I’m working on it, all right?

    But to try and recover the bi-partisanship that really gave Seattle the Downtown Seattle Transit Project that truly “kicked off” regional rail here, let’s do this for State Senator Steve O’Ban. Whether he’s “Re-Elected” or “Former.”

    Online, look up “Tacoma to Steilacoom Streetcar.” And when Tacoma Link reaches MLK and 19th up in High Point, keep laying track and, when the line reaches the Bair Grocery uphill from the Anderson Island ferry, name it after him.

    It’ll drive his BASE ber-SERK!

    Mark Dublin

    1. When Bernie Sanders told Cubans in Florida Castro was good for Cuba most political pundits wrote off FL for Democrats, and to be fair FL was predicted to go Republican anyway. In January before Covid Trump looked like he would win in a landslide, which is why the field of Democrat candidates was so weak.

      I think Trump would be much further behind except the protests and riots gave him the law and order issue he desperately needed to take attention off Covid-19.

      If you had asked Republicans one month ago if they would take Barrett on the Supreme Court and retain control of the Senate they would have taken that in a second. I think the pre-election polls were affected by the desire of the pollsters and TV pundits. Biden is already seen as a one term lame duck President due to his age and possible dementia, and is the first in a very long time to be elected to his first term without both houses. He just never had an overarching theme or policy like Obamacare to swing the Senate, except he was not Trump. Biden has little hope of passing any real progressive legislation with a Republican controlled Senate. Personally I generally favor split government, and apparently so does America because most incumbents were reelected.

      It has been one long slog but I don’t see much change in this state or America from the election. Even the passage of Prop. 1 will not offset the decline in revenue for Metro from Covid-19 and working from home (and bad city policy) and more importantly Seattle, and with a Republican Senate there will be no repeal of the $10,000 cap on SALT, and likely little to no federal aid to cities and states no matter who is President, and some like Seattle and Washington State have been holding off cuts praying for trillions in federal money. The burden is on progressives to find the money to fund their vision, whereas conservatives can play defense, and there are few defenses like Covid-19 when it comes to reducing tax revenue, and in the long term redirecting it.

      It does seem strange that the Presidency may come down to NV. Hispanics work in union jobs in NV, and Sanders’ call for universal healthcare was very unpopular because they have negotiated for very good union health care and don’t want Medicaid for All. Plus just like the vote over California’s Prop. 16 “people of color” are not a homogeneous group, and one minority group resents what it thinks will be legislative favoritism for another minority group, in this case Hispanics and Asians uncomfortable with some of the platform for BLM.

      All in all little has changed from the election, and the changes in society from Covid-19 will be the real long term change.

      1. Daniel,

        Who exactly was “stronger” than three governors, five Senators, a Vice-President, two billionaires, a hip multi-millionaire with cool ideas, and the mayor of South Bend, Indiana?

        You certainly have the right to tag them with “weak”; there were certainly plenty of “bona fides” on the stage, but YMMV.

        However, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find Democrats who were “stronger” but didn’t run.

      2. Pennsylvania is the firewall for Biden. Senator Casey projects from the mail in votes that remain to be counted that Biden can win the state by about 100K, which will put him over the necessary 270 to win.

      3. “Conversatives can play defense”

        Nice way to say, “conservatives will do nothing to improve the lives of the Americans.”

  3. Austin’s Prop A passes, which to me was the most notable transit-specific vote elsewhere in the nation.

    1. What is Austin’s network like and what will this measure do? How extensive is frequent transit in Austin? That tends to be the biggest problem in American networks.

      1. Austin finally put a Lamar/Guadalupe LRT in (the propsal) for the first time since 2000, and is also adding a lot of enhanced bus service.

      2. From what little I know about Austin, it looks like a pretty good plan. I would say that in American transit, it is a losers game. Just avoid make a big mistake. Don’t run a bunch of rail through downtown that gets stuck in traffic. Don’t spend a fortune running rail to distance suburbs, or cities two far away to be considered a twin. Have good stop spacing. Avoid focusing only on rail, as it is quite likely that the buses will carry the bulk of your riders for a long time, if not forever.

        Austin seems to avoid all these mistakes in what is a fairly sprawling city. The rail follows a few big (and presumably fast) corridors but then goes underground downtown. It extends out pretty far, but generally avoids the freeway along the way, except for towards the end, with what is (or will hopefully be) connections to freeway feeder buses. A lot of the money goes into building good bus service — both BRT (at whatever level) and just more frequency. Looks pretty good from what I can tell.

    2. $7.1 billion for transit. Wow!
      “The $7.1 billion plan includes building two light rail lines, a downtown tunnel and multiple rapid bus routes. An 8.75 cent increase to the city of Austin’s tax rate would pay for construction, maintenance and labor of the system, which will take decades to fully build out.”

      They’ll add a downtown transit tunnel and several new lines. Maybe a trip to Austin is in order in 2024 for the solar eclipse. I bet they will have some of those projects done by that point.

    3. Austin, a red state city, voted for transit. Portland Metro, in a blue state, voted down transit.

      1. To be fair, and speaking as a Portland voter who voted yes on the Metro Bond, the bond kind of sucked. It had enough of everything that anyone could find something to hate. Our last two light rail projects have underperformed in ridership. The SW corridor line was very expensive, and might be a better candidate for BRT. One they opted for the 99W alignment, I think BRT started to make more sense. I think it was a mistake to not pursue an alignment that relied more on tunneling and could provide subway stations at the major ridership notes in SW Portland: OHSU/VA hospital, Hillsdale, Multnomah Village. The 99W alignment didn’t serve any of these locations, and is much slower.

      2. Yeah, the Portland measure materials seemed unconvincing. It looked like it was about funding the SW corridor with miscellaneous padding that wasn’t terribly convincing. With no big electorate pushing for the SW corridor and most everywhere else somewhat happy with current rail, the result is not terribly surprising.

        Two questions:

        1. Can the SW corridor be scaled back politically enough to get funding?

        2. Will it take a measure to also build a Downtown subway segment to get wider support?

      3. This measure failing will delay the downtown tunnel as it would have funded EIS and early design work, which will now have to wait for another levy.

      4. I’d like to see Trimet/Metro put forth a clean measure that primarily focuses on transit and perhaps some infill pedestrian infrastructure. A downtown tunnel is needed, but I’d like to see Trimet pursue some cheaper projects first:
        1. A simple yellow line extension, with two new bridges (fixed to Hayden and Movable low-level to Vancouver). Two new stops: Hayden Island and Turtle Place in Vancouver, with simple loop or turnback with layover space. $500 – 800 million
        2. Light rail on Powell, connecting the Orange and Green line routes. There is still a lot of ROW along Powell east of 52nd leftover from the Mt. Hood Freeway project that can be used for dedicated ROW without reducing general purpose lanes. The section west of 52nd would need to be elevated. Adding a Wye at I-205 and another Wye at I-205/Burnside would permit new MAX lines on existing infrastructure. The green line would turn and take Powell/Tillicum to downtown, freeing up capacity on the Steel Bridge. Another line could be created either from Gateway to Clackamas, or Gateway to downtown. You could even route trains from Gresham to the Powell line by turning south at I-205 and then west at Powell. $800 million – $1 billion.
        3. Then we pursue a downtown transit tunnel and or SW corridor. (Billions)

      5. I don’t think a bridge across the Columbia would be simple? Will that really have the investment return to go ahead of a downtown tunnel?

    4. Wasn’t that the transit package that was highly leveraged with federal funding? Something like 40 or 45% coming from federal grant receipts? If so, that may be overly optimistic absent a reshuffling of priorities on the annual DOT appropriation sausage-making and a new FAST Act type piece of legislation.

      1. I think so. But at least gets the ball rolling and commits them to a downtown tunnel. They will likely need to come back to the voters for more, but they will also be much further along so they can be more specific with what they will need and what they are creating.

  4. That .5% that the Council decided to not put on the ballot clearly made all the difference with Prop 1.


    1. One interesting thought experiment is to try to infer from prop 1 how a countywide transit measure might fare someday. At least based on raw partisan extrapolation, prop 1 got the support of over 90% of Seattle Democrats (assuming 0% support from Seattle Republicans), so extrapolating that to all of King County, which is only 70% Democrat, shows it would pass easily.

      However, a simple partisan extrapolation is probably far too simplistic. For instance, 2020 results show Donald Trump doing far worse in both Pierce and Snohomish County than I-976, which shows that there is a non-trivial suburban voter block willing to vote for both I-976 and Joe Biden.

      Conclusion: it’s really hard to say, but if it’s going to happen, they had better put it on a presidential ballot to maximize the chance. (And also structure it in such a way that the city of Seattle does not get screwed if it fails).

  5. U.S. House is likely to stay Democratic, but perhaps only barely. So far sounds like -7 seats for the Democrats with no Republican incumbents defeated. That could change of course, but the district-level indications were something like +5 to +20 so this is a major miss.

    The current NBC projection is 227-208 for the Democrats, +/- 8 seats, which if those all swung to the Republicans would leave a single seat margin. That same projection was 232-203 last night when I checked.

    Brutal night all around. Democrats unsurprisingly running up gigantic margins in the cities but getting stonewalled in the exurb-suburb interface and in predominantly rural districts where some of the last few Democrats are being picked off.

    1. Thanks for the update!
      “That same projection was 232-203 last night when I checked.”
      Yeah, that’s what I saw when I looked at the House results late last night. Overall, very disappointing night for Democrats, considering they had one of their best opportunities for flipping the Senate during this cycle.

    2. Maybe this is enough to convince the Dems to elect a new Speaker? One who won’t turn down a stimulus bill because of moving targets for how it was not enough? And one who will support the Green New Deal? (which will be totally symbolic, kinda like FMLA was until the Dems had the trifecta and suddenly ran out of excuses not to pass it).

      Will Biden try to save life on Earth with the executive powers at his disposal, or relax in the feigned helplessness of a Republican senate (assuming that is how the election comes out)?

      1. It’s not possible to rewind the clock and confirm. But, I think if Democrats tried to go all in on the Green New Deal, they would have done worse, and likely ended up with 4 more years of Trump.

        The Democrats have a large structural problem that liberal voters are too geographically concentrated and our electoral system rewards taking territory, rather than straight up most votes.

        Taking the Senate is ever tougher. As a thought experiment, I imagined what a hypothetical senate map would look like, ignoring both incumbency and the election calendar, and just starting from a clean slate. The result: Dems would have to run the table, winning both seats in every single state that Biden will or might win – including Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and even Georgia, just to get to 50/50. To reach 51, they’d also need one seat from either North Carolina or Florida.

        The only reason the Senate is competitive at all is that dems have a few red state senators (Ohio, Montana, West Virginia) that are in office only due to incumbency. Long term, when they eventually retire or get voted out, the picture becomes very bleak. Even if Georgia and Texas become battleground states by 2030, winning all four of those seats is a tough ask.

        I don’t have a good answer for what it does take to win back the Senate, but trying to win red-leaning states on the Green New Deal certainly isn’t it.

      2. Pelosi may have badly overplayed her hand on the stimulus. She was at $2.2 trillion, Trump was at $1.8 trillion, and the Republican Senate was at $600 billion, although I imagine Trump could have gotten them up. A lot of the dispute was over stimulus to cities and states, which mostly would have benefited larger blue cities and states. Without that Pelosi would not deal.
        Pelosi believed the polls that Dems would retake the Senate and Presidency, which was like drawing an inside straight.

        I can’t imagine a stimulus bill will be agreed to during the period before inauguration in January if Biden wins, and Biden will have little influence on Senate Republicans if they retain a majority who think the very high rise in third quarter GDP (and number of Covid infections) was proof little broad stimulus was needed. For some like Senators Cotton and Scott, federal stimulus for states and cities is a wealth transfer from red to blue states (although the basic tax code is blue to red). Plus they like less government overall, and less wealth distribution.

        Where stimulus is needed is to limit evictions when the moratoria expire, probably airlines, and high tax/tax rate cities and states that have been praying for a Dem sweep and large federal stimulus funds because they have large transit and social programs.

        Add in the limit on deducting SALT which makes it harder to pass local levies and states like WA and cities like Seattle that have put off budgeting for 2021-22 until federal stimulus was better known either need large tax increases or cuts, and soon, unless there is a vaccine and sudden lift in the economy, another inside straight.

        For transit that means less federal funding. However one thing Pres. Biden could try to reestablish is the deductibility for employers for transit for employees, although that will take the Senate to agree.

        Oh, and now that the election is over don’t expect either party to follow up their demands for huge USPS funding.

      3. “Pelosi may have badly overplayed her hand on the stimulus. ”

        I agree. A far better strategy would have been to do what you can now and promise more if you win the election. Anytime people in either party try to hold out for everything, it usually doesn’t end well.

        Still, I don’t think that likely has much to do with the election results, as the number of people who actually follow the news in that much detail is tiny. A much more likely explanation is Trump driving right-leaning voters to the polls who vote straight Republican once they get there.

      4. asdf2, the only answer is to break up the large states, and to get the Republicans to agree you’d have to break up Texas and Florida, too. So Democrats wouldn’t net that many seats but it would make the electoral college somewhat more comptetitive.

        When the Constitution was ratified Virginia and Pennsylvania were almost exactly ten times as populous as was Delaware. Today California is sixty-seven times as populous.

        Does anyone think Virginia would have entered a Federal system in which some town in Vermont with 1700 people would have the same representation in the Senate as it did? It’s absurd even to contemplate.

        Either 1) force the merger of adjacent small states [or if no other small states are adjacent into the smallest of adjacent ones which don’t need to merge] until the resulting body has a minimum of five Representatives or 2) break up the large states.

        But in SOME way get the various states to no more than 10 to 1 population ratio so that the Senate is at least somewhat representative.

    1. Bummer, I was hoping that measure would be a good template for a King County levy that would combine bridge rehab/replacement with building out suburban multi-modal corridors like the RR-I. Throw in an at-grade Link extension and it’s basically the same package.

  6. Tom Terrific, about that “Socialist” label…..the thing that infuriates me the worst about my party’s miserable “Repeat Performance” this day is that not one of us has gone public and demanded a definition of that one single word.

    Trump and Team, if what you mean is a giant Christmas present of taxpayer’s money to a politically-chosen segment of the population, can we see the balance sheet on how much of your expenditure of my taxes has gone to people a galaxy out of MY bracket? Maybe Elon’s watching the screen as his Tesla clears the orbit of Pluto.

    Both the National Defense Highway system and National Defense itself, what were and are those things if NOT examples of socialism?

    Or maybe it’s “The Government Running Everything”…as if the Government is not INTENDED to be Ours, the People’s own master machine tool for getting ourselves the well-being in life that however bad WE need it, nobody can make a profit delivering to it?

    And Daniel, about those “protests and riots…” Police officers who’ll shoot a woman half a dozen times in her own bed over a station-house mixup…

    And put same number of bullets into a three-months’ pregnant mentally ill woman whose knives they could’ve grabbed without a scratch…..

    With what ammunition costs nowadays, what happened to target practice?

    But real deal is this. All I can see coming out of this set of policing habits is the exchange that’ll get a decent policeman, like the half dozen I know and respect, filled full of lead in retaliation. And the jury let the shooter go both free and “Justified.”

    And the matter of “Class” resentments? What probably renders my politics tricky to read are the years of my life I’ve quarried, and landscaped, and logged, among people whose forebears would’ve killed my kin in the Union Army. Who also would’ve shot back. At Fort Sumter, the Slavers fired first.

    2016 and now, the hellish FIRE of their anti-Liberalism is because over generations of their own families’ experience, the college degree that’ll put them in debt for life amounts to the Title of Nobility our Constitution forbids. What it’s THERE for is to weed out people like them.

    What I COULD say tonight is that this element of our population, and especially the younger ones among them, have for the second time been Ours To Lose and we Lost them. But the young men and women who’ve been settling their employers’ screwups for me since COVIDIA hit….

    The girl in Jamaica who got my Comcast turned back on when the Company Couldn’t, and finally made me audible to my bank tonight in spite of itself… Make it my duty to do everything I can to direct their proven qualities to politics.

    And as the first move of a taxpaying voter, get them both the transit system they need and deserve, and the trade-school education that could not be readier to help them personally design, build and run it.

    STB- by just being here, tonight you’ve pretty much saved the whole thing.

    Mark Dublin

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