Post-Campaign Fizz: Awaiting the Forch-Godden Numbers

By Erica C. Barnett November 10, 2011

1) City council candidate Bobby Forch, who ran against incumbent Jean Godden in the only close city council race, is not ready to concede defeat, his consultant, John Wyble, says. Although a victory at this point is mathematically "at the outer edge of the solar system"---Godden has 53.1 percent to Forch's 46.5 percent---Wyble says he wants to wait until the next round of ballots drop this afternoon to decide whether it's time to concede.

As we reported in Fizz this morning, in the batch of votes counted yesterday, Godden and Forch were virtually tied, with a 45-vote margin among nearly 13,000 votes counted. Based on historical turnout in non-mayoral council election years, Forch will need to win upward of 60 percent of the remaining votes, although higher projected turnout (the county elections office predicts 52 percent of registered voters cast ballots in this year's all-mail election) could reduce the percentage Forch would need to defeat Godden.

"We moved six points in the primary. I think we can wait a couple of days," Wyble says.

2) In an email, initiative hawker Tim Eyman---whose anti-tolling, light-rail-killing I-1125 went down in flames Tuesday---gave his interpretation of why the proposal failed. The short version: Initiatives are hard to pass, especially with opponents fighting them for months; "different initiatives produce different results" (Eyman's I-1053, which required a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes, passed with 64 percent of the vote); simply qualifying for the ballot was a victory because it raised public awareness of tolling issues; and opponents outspent his campaign.

Additionally, Eyman said, the initiative didn't lose because it was associated with Tim Eyman; "when our initiatives are approved, does that mean the voters voted yes because they like me?  I don't think so," Eyman said.

3) Transportation Issues Daily, a Washington State-based national blog that deals with national transportation issues, calls the defeat of Seattle's Prop. 1, the $60 car-tab fee, "shocking," and gives some theories about why the measure went down so hard.
First, Seattleites had already seen their car tab fee increase by $40 this year.  The City approved a $20 car-tab fee and months later, the county approved another $20.  And homeowners are still paying for a voter-approved the $365 million transportation levy.  A number of labor organizations, low-income advocates and some Democratic party organizations argued against raising taxes once again. (In fairness, others from those organizations advocated FOR the measure.)

Second, voters weren’t convinced the programs and projects were critical needs.  Nationwide, over 75% of transportation ballot measures passed in 2011 and 2010.  One of the common elements of victorious measures is that people know exactly where the money goes, and in nearly all cases the funding is going to restoring transit service (and sometimes expanding service).   Supporters said the $60 increase would result in “faster, more reliable transit, stepped-up road maintenance, new sidewalks, crosswalks and family-friendly bikeways.”  In the face of service reductions, people may have cared less about faster and more reliable service.

4) Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, voters defeated an effort to block construction of a streetcar line (as opposed to the streetcar planning included in Prop. 1) approved in a citywide election two years ago. Construction on the line could now start as early as next year.

5) At a press briefing this afternoon, McGinn repeated his assertion that the reason Prop. 1 failed was that it didn't include enough money for fixed-rail transit. "If we could have had a clean transit shot, if we could have had a clean shot at electrified rail, then maybe we would have won," McGinn said, adding, "I hear from voters that they want more modernized transit."

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