Election 2017: Expected low turnout favors conservatives

Oct 31, 2017, 5:41 AM | Updated: 7:14 am
ballot, election, Kim Wyman...
A ballot drop box in Washington state. (AP file photo)
(AP file photo)

With no national candidates or compelling state initiatives, voter turnout in Washington state is expected to push into historic lows for the November 2017 election.

Election officials in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties expect fewer than 45 percent of registered voters will return their ballots by next Tuesday. The state elections office, fearful that forecasting a low-voter turnout will repress numbers even more, declined to predict statewide outcomes.

RELATED: Seattle mayoral candidates Durkan and Moon on the issues

But the lack of a compelling national candidate or state issue is only partly to blame, said Benjamin Gonzalez, a Highline College professor of political science. Current political toxicity likely also is playing a role.

“When the rhetoric gets really charged, it can help depress turnout,” he said. “We do know that in Washington and King County, we’ve seen some falling turnout rates. In the 2015 elections, we hit a pretty low point of 38 percent voter participation.”

And generally, low-turnout elections tend to favor conservatives, he said.

“The individuals who tend to turn out in off-year or midterm elections tend to be older, fewer minorities, wealthier individuals tend to turn out at a higher rate,” he said. “That demographic group tends to favor conservative or Republican candidates.”

Gonzalez said some races might help pull in 50 percent of registered voters within specific communities. The Seattle mayor’s race between Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon has garnered both money and interest within city limits. Same for the Everett mayor’s contest between Judy Tuohy and Cassie Franklin and Tacoma’s fight between Jim Merritt and Victoria Woodards.

And in the Eastside’s 45th state senate district (Kirkland, Woodinville, Duvall) where state political party power could be decided, turnout could be better-than-average for an off year, he said.

“But these mid-term elections, they are tough,” he said. And the Democrats, he said, have it even tougher. For the 45th (District) for example, the low-turnout bias should help Jinyoung Lee Englund, over Democrat Manka Dhingra.

“That’s going to be an issue for the Democrats for the type of coalition they tend to rely on,” he said. “Younger voters, minorities. Those two groups are harder to turn out.”

Local News

Washington state forest...
Dalton Day

Washington state to preserve, reseed two million acres of forest by 2040

The state Department of Natural Resources makes a substantial investment in its forests, pledging to preserve or restore 2 million acres of trees by 2040.
18 hours ago
homeless encampments...
Dalton Day

King County Council rejects attempt to remove public homeless encampments

King County Council ahs rejected a motion to codify procedure for removal of homeless encampments in unincorporated King county.
18 hours ago
Charleena Lyles...
MyNorthwest Staff

Seattle agrees to settlement in Charleena Lyles wrongful death lawsuit

The City of Seattle will pay a $3.5 million settlement to the family of Charleena Lyles, a Black woman who was shot and killed by Seattle police in 2017.
18 hours ago
charity, giving...
MyNorthwest Staff

Secretary of State warns Washingtonians about giving to fake charities

While it's the season for charitable giving, it's also the season for scammers. The secretary of state's office has tips to help protect your donations.
18 hours ago
Tacoma police, South King County...
MyNorthwest Staff

South King County mayors demand action from state to end rash of violence

Multiple mayors in South King County are banding together to combat a violent trend after seven people were shot in four days. 
18 hours ago
Seattle election...
Nick Bowman

How wealthy strongholds helped deliver Seattle’s 2021 election to moderate candidates

Seattle's moderate candidates prevailed in the 2021 election on the strength of wealthy neighborhoods along its eastern and western coastlines.
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Election 2017: Expected low turnout favors conservatives