Typically, we have an anonymous political hack file ElectionNerd. This week, I decided to dissect the race myself. 

1. McGinn's biggest problem: When you're  as far down in the polls as McGinn appears to be—KING 5/SurveyUSA had him down 52-30—political strategy dictates that your only option is to go negative. This traps McGinn in a vicious circle.

The reason he's behind in the polls is because people think he's an abrasive bully. Going on the attack only reinforces that impression. 

And footnote: Conventional wisdom has it that Murray is thin-skinned and McGinn will give him fits, but I think the converse is true—Murray brings out the exasperated, shake-your-head-no side of McGinn, which exacerbates his personality problem.

2. Murray's biggest problem: The upcoming TV debates; KING 5 this Wednesday on October 9, KOMO TV on October 15, and KCTS on October 22.

McGinn is a tenacious, relentless, witty debater. Murray's meandering, often elliptical thinking-out-loud approach to answering questions can be unconvincing.

Ed Murray, not former OneAmerica Executive Director Pramila Jayapal, is responsible for introducing Ed Murray to thousands of TV viewers.

Murray can line up all the progressive endorsements—Planned Parenthood, SEIU 775, local nightlife entrepreneurs, Washington Conservation Voters, Teamsters 117—he wants, but ultimately it's up to him to defend himself against McGinn's charges that he's the conservative in the race (Murray's also been endorsed by the Seattle Chamber).

Ed Murray, not former OneAmerica Executive Director Pramila Jayapal, is responsible for introducing Ed Murray to thousands of viewers.

Photo by Alex Garland

3. Murray's biggest strength: Money. While Murray himself may not be great on the stump, he's continuing to outraise the mayor—currently, campaign finance records show that Murray has raised $200,000 more than McGinn—$525,000 to $325,000. His ultimate cash advantage (new expenditure reports aren't out yet, so I don't know how much the candidates have on hand) will allow him to broadcast his message with more megahertz than McGinn.

And it's worth noting, Murray's money lead isn't the typical a-few-wealthy-supporters vs. the underfunded-grassroots-guy scenario.  Both candidates are bringing in about the same average contribution (around $220), it's just that Murray has nearly 1,000 more contributors. So, in addition to the fact that he'll be able to outdo McGinn on the airwaves, there's also a sign that his fundraising is equivalent to momentum on the ground.

4. McGinn's biggest strength is the fact that Seattle is killing it right now.

For example, our unemployment rate, at 4.7 percent, is the lowest since 2008, and housing inventory is half what it was a year ago. The cranes around town, the action on Pike/Pine, and Ballard, and Fremont; the new restaurants, the startups, Car2Go, all translate into the fact that, unlike when voters headed to the polls in 2009 and voted out then-incumbent Mayor Greg Nickels, there's no snowstorm. And no metaphorical one either. In fact, it's kind of the opposite.

That same KING 5/Survey USA poll I mentioned above also found that more voters think Seattle is on the right track than the wrong track. This is good news for McGinn.


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