After the re-re-defeat of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi in the Nov. 4 election, Republicans in the state are still clutching their knees while on the ground

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The Real, Real Reason Dino Rossi Lost

After the re-re-defeat of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi in the Nov. 4 election, Republicans in the state are still clutching their knees while on the ground crying "Why? Why? Why?"

Cheap Nancy Kerrigan jokes aside, the question is a good one for political geeks who are so inclined.

An op-ed penned by former GOP State Chair Chris Vance at the blog Crosscut (or online newspaper or whatever) has generated a bit of chatter stating it wasn't a Blue Wave of new Obama supporters that carried the day but rather the collapse of the Stock Market which turned the tide. Vance then goes on for 1,400 more words citing poll numbers in an attempt to bore any readers still following the text to death.

Monday morning quarterbacking is fun only if the one receiving the snaps is able to get the call right. One of the maxims in politics is that a bad economy hurts incumbents whereas challengers get dinged when the good times roll.

If it was really the economy which was the main issue deciding the 2008 Election, as conventional wisdom would have us believe, then the sitting governor would - logically - be the politician most likely to be wounded.

But just like most conventional wisdom, it wasn't the economy which was the deciding factor in the presidential race nor was it the factor that predominately swayed voters in the Evergreen State.

Rather, to use the knowledge gleaned from the zen master of the obvious, former Mariners broadcaster Ron Fairly, Rossi lost the election because more people voted for Gov. Christine Gregoire, a startling change in circumstances for the incumbent as compared to 2004.

Simple. Case closed. Go home.

Oh. As for the reason why, any post-mortem on the Governor race isn't worth the paper it is written on if it doesn't mention the so-called "Buildergate scandal" tying Rossi to illegal fundraising by the BIAW. The lawsuit, a political stunt hatched by Gregoire minions, dominated the news cycle in the state in the final days of the campaign.

As one of the few people in the state who actually read Rossi's entire deposition (basically 200 pages of leading questions asking if he had stopped beating his wife yet) it is clear the lawsuit was a tawdry political ploy. If it wasn't a stunt, then why isn't the lawsuit being pursued with vigor after the election?

However, most voters in the state did not read the transcript of the deposition. All they heard was Rossi being involved in another "Gate" scandal. And those who didn't turn in their absentee ballots already, broke decisively for Gregoire.

After weeks of counting, the final tally in the contest shows Gregoire won by, roughly, 53 to 47 percent; a lead of 6.5 percent over Rossi. The numbers are no longer online, but the vote totals at midnight, on election night, had Rossi down by two or two and a half percent. During the initial counts of the evening he was tied, hopscotching the governor by a few hundred votes either way.

Ballots are counted, first come, first serve in this state and because ballots are put in the mail weeks before the election, many voters delivered them back to their county auditor offices a month early. The initial numbers tallied where Rossi was tied were these early ballots. Those counted later in the evening, and later in the week, were the ones turned in later and up to Election Day.

Another piece of conventional wisdom is many Obama voters were so excited about voting for Change that they turned their ballots in early. These are also your hardcore Democratic voters.

Despite this trend with Obama voters, Rossi was going toe-to-toe against Gregoire. It was only in the ballots turned in after the Buildergate story hit front page, that Rossi started to get beat like a red-headed foster child in the care of DSHS.

Conversely, statewide Republican AG candidate Rob McKenna (yes it is somewhat apples and oranges) extended his lead amongst the same later voters.

Controversial GOP Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland was only down by a fraction of a percentage point on election night and eventually lost by one percentage point when post-Buildergate votes were counted. Another statewide Republican candidate Al Martin only lost one percentage point among the same voters in his race for Treasurer.

A smaller sample of voters in the Eighth Congressional District, a mostly suburban battleground Rossi needed to win, had incumbent Dave Reichert expand his lead from a tie during election night against well-funded challenger Darcy Burner to a victory of five and a half percent.

So what this shows is that there was something, some issue in the final week of the campaign where the same people who voted for Republicans Rob McKenna, Doug Sutherland, Al Martin and Dave Reichert, when it came to filling in the arrow on their ballots for governor, opted for the Democrat instead.

Why was Rossi wearing a Mr. Yuck sticker when voters thought the other GOP candidates were A-OK?

The only thing in the news during that final week about the Governor' race was Buildergate and the BIAW and Rossi getting yanked into court.

As the punch-line to the old joke goes, two and two before. Doesn't take much more math than that.

 
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