The latest ElectionNerd analysis from one of our anonymous super hacks. —Eds.

Unlike in presidential elections—where, with six days to go and the media obsessing over the critical undecideds, we are left to ponder, "Who the hell are these people and how could they STILL be undecided!?"—in local politics, these folks are far more common. Probably 20 to 25 percent of those who plan to vote still don't know who they're supporing as late as this coming weekend. That's what gives all the candidates hope.

The majority of local pundits are expecting a Murray vs. McGinn runoff. But what about Peter Steinbrueck and Bruce Harrell? Is all hope lost? What would need to happen for either Harrell or Steinbrueck to make it through?

The Steinbrueck scenario

Steinbrueck is viewed as the "safe" alternative. 

Of the top four candidates, Team Steinbrueck has the least resources for paid voter contact and a field game that is the most modest. This is not typically a recipe for success in the home stretch. It's far from clear whether his campaign will be able to muster any real movement in his numbers with six days to go.  

But if we do see Steinbrueck make a serious move into the second spot as returns come in, it probably means undecideds were not moved by Mayor McGinn's final arguments and ended up in Steinbrueck's column because he was the candidate they felt they knew and was the "safest" choice.  

Yes, some of his voters will be anti-arena folks, neighborhood activists, and balanced growth advocates—but let's face it, most people vote on gut, feel and comfort with a candidate—and substantive issue debates have been few and far between this election cycle. Ironically, his fate may have nothing to do with his campaign efforts, but whether Peter Steinbrueck has built up enough goodwill over his decade on the city council and his father Victor Steinbrueck's civic activism to carry him through this primary.

The Harrell scenario

Harrell pulls off a fourth-quarter comeback.

Team Harrell has mounted a reasonably strong campaign. His cable ad has gotten relatively good reviews, his mail has been solid, and the eight-page Seattle Times insert from Sunday is creating some positive buzz around town. His ground game is good and active and the candidate himself has, with the exception of a few missteps, been formidable on the stump.  

So what the hell is the problem and why is he stuck in fourth place with virtually no movement? It could be one of two explanations: 1) The "One Seattle" message may just not resonate and no matter what Team Harrell does, they just can't and won't seize any real momentum. Or 2) Undecided voters will give Harrell a "second look" down the stretch and the cumulative impact of his voter contact will peak at the right time for a late, surprising surge.  

The former seems more likely. Ironically, Harrell's call for "One Seattle" and his promise to represent everyone speaks to something that has been a big problem for him this campaign: What is Harrell's base? The mayor appears to have substantially consolidated support from many leaders from communities of color (including leaders from the East African community and the Asian American community) and Murray has consolidated business support. Meanwhile, Steinbrueck picks up the mantle as the one representing the voiceless neighborhoods and the generally disgruntled.  

Harrell is always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Time is running out, but if McGinn is tanking, Harrell has the resources to try and make a case that the mayor is no longer viable and his supporters should take another look around if they want a credible alternative with a different vision than Murray. 

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