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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Analysis: Jay Inslee will win election for Washington state governor

Statewide, Jay Inslee currently leads Rob McKenna in votes, 51.06% to 48.94%. Inslee currently leads by slightly more than 50,000 votes.*

Out of the 637,000 uncounted ballots on hand, 244,000 are in King County. Being very generous to McKenna and assuming 40% of the remaining votes in King County break for him, that gives Inslee 146,400 more and McKenna 97,600 more, or 48,800 more for Inslee.

That would put Inslee ahead by 98,800, with 393,000 ballots remaining to be counted in the other counties.

To win 98,800 more votes of the remaining 393,000, McKenna would have to win at least 62.6% of those votes. (62.6% of 393,000 = 246,018; leaving Inslee with 146,982; 246,018 - 146982 = 99,036.) The math equation used to find the percentage required is the following, for those interested:

393000x - 393000(1-x) > 98,800
x > 0.626

There are seven other counties that have a majority in favor of Inslee, and their remaining uncounted ballots add up to 122,060. 80,000 of these are in Snohomish, however, for which McKenna got 52.6% of the most recent batch. So let's be very generous to McKenna once again and assume that McKenna gets a full 53% of ALL of those ballots in counties that are currently pro-Inslee overall. This gives him 64,691 votes to Inslee's 57,368. So McKenna gains 7,323 votes relative to Inslee.

Since after counting King County McKenna was behind by 98,800, the above ballots put him behind by 91,477 votes, with about 270,940 ballots left to count. Using the same equation as above, we find that McKenna now needs 66.9% of the remaining vote to pull off a win. Can he do it?

There are six counties that have so far voted for McKenna at a percentage equal to or greater than 66.9%: Grant (68.66%), Douglas (67.39%), Lincoln (70.07%), Adams (70.88%), Columbia (70.65%), and Garfield (73.91%). These are all very low population counties, and their uncounted ballots total 5,863.

By comparison, counties that support McKenna by 55% or less have a total of 157,070 uncounted ballots remaining. Notice that the difference between McKenna's BEST county, Garfield (73.91%), and the average percentage he needs to pull in, 66.9%, is only 7%. In comparison, the difference between 66.9 and 55% is almost 12 points. The total number of votes that fall into the sub-55% category, and their distance from 66.9%, make it very unlikely for votes in more supportive counties to make up this shortfall.

I think I’ve driven this point home quite enough, but let’s go just a bit further to really make sure it sticks. If we give McKenna a full 55% of those remaining ballots in the  counties that are pro-McKenna by 55% or less, he would get 86,389 to Inslee’s 70,681, for a gain of 15,708. That puts him behind by 75,769 votes with 113,870 left to count.

Doing our little calculation one last time, we find that McKenna would have to win 83.3% of the remaining votes, 10% higher than his best county and roughly 20-25% higher than the average of those still not accounted for.

To jump back and be even more generous to McKenna, even if we gave him 45% of the remaining votes in King County he would still be trailing by 51,000 with 113,870 left to count in his most supportive counties. To overcome this deficit would require that 72.4% of those votes go for McKenna. Given that only one small county has achieved a higher percentage than that, and that at least 45,000 of the remaining votes are in counties that support McKenna by less than 60%, this becomes as close to impossible as a person can safely say without testing the wrath of God.

So let me be the first to officially congratulate you, Governor-elect Jay Inslee! We did it!

*At the time this was being written this was the case.  About 30,000 ballots in King County have since been counted and Inslee now leads by 55,000 votes and is at 51.14%.

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