Record Turnout Expected for General Election

By Josh Feit October 11, 2010

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed's office is predicting record midterm election turnout for this year's general election, with 66 percent of registered voters, saying: "Hotly contested races and ballots measures, heavy television spending, and fired-up grassroots activists all combine to suggest a strong turnout."

My take: The ballot measures, the heavy television spending, and the "fired-up" grassroots all favor Republicans this year.

As we've noted before, the ballot measures fall on the pro-active side for conservatives which help GOTV (Get Out the Vote); the heavy television spending—particularly in the Murray Rossi race—is favoring Rossi because of all the independent ads; and the "fired-up" grassroots is certainly a reference to the mid-term Tea Party backlash. Again, a point for the right.

However, given that liberals dominated independent spending on local races during the primary, (and given that I was told by an advocate on the left this weekend to watch for big independent ads in the state house races), the picture could change slightly.

A press release from the Secretary of  State says "the voters are awake":
State Elections Director Nick Handy said there are a number of trends that suggest a surge in interest in this election:

--The excellent turnout in the primary (41 percent, a modern record) was a clear indication of an active electorate.

--Voting by mail makes the process more convenient and promotes a somewhat higher participation. King County joined the VBM counties last year, and that fact alone should boost turnout a bit.

--Ballot measures – six citizen initiatives and three measures placed on the ballot by the Legislature – are generating heavy debate and campaign spending, including saturation broadcast spots.

--The U.S. Senate race, which could be pivotal to partisan control of the Senate, has generated heavy spending, and added great attention as a top-of-ballot contest.

--Many tight races for the Legislature, the U.S. House, and other offices are generating great interest.

--The political climate nationally is generating unusual attention to the election.

This year's primary was a modern record. The general election in 2008 was a record for a presidential election at 85 percent.
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