As I've mentioned a few times here on The Daily Weekly, the common perception is Washington's newly redrawn 8st Congressional District, which incumbent Republican Dave Reichert calls home, is a safe haven for the GOP - by design. Given the fact a sizable chunk of its land mass consists of places like Chelan, Douglas, and Kittitas County, it's an understandable assumption.
It's not the first time Porterfield has touted evidence that suggest people have the 8th all wrong. When she entered the race Porterfield did so pointing to a poll she'd commissioned that indicated the district was far more independent that people give it credit for, and it's a belief she still holds as we close in on November.
As was noted in a Daily Weekly post regarding that poll:
A standard question with polls of this type, voters were asked whether Reichert should be reelected or replaced - with 43.8 percent responding Reichert should be replaced and only 33.5 percent responding that the sitting Congressman deserved to be reelected. [Porterfield political consultant Tom Hujar] tells Seattle Weekly that an incumbent considered "safe" typically polls in the neighborhood of 55 percent favoring reelection, with anything under that becoming "dicey." (The poll commissioned by Porterfield's campaign has a plus-or-minus 4.7 percent accuracy rate.)
Still, despite the poll, not many have bought into Porterfield's optimism.
Whether that's likely to change or not is anyone's guess. What is known is now Porterfield has even more evidence suggesting things may not be as cut and dry as they appear, coming in the form of the OnTheIssues.org report and in her campaign's analysis of the August primary voting results.
Saying it looks "for incumbents whose party is a mismatch with the people in that district," OnTheIssues.org's methodology in compiling its rankings is based on voting history in presidential elections.
With Obama garnering 57 percent of the vote in 2008 to McCain's 42 percent, and Kerry notching 51 percent to Bush's 48 percent in 2004, Reichert earned an OnTheIssues.org score of -18 - which put him in a three-way tie with New Hampshire's Charlie Bass and Illinois' Bobby Schilling among Republicans identified as vulnerable. Reichert is listed seventh on the OnTheIssues.org list, but with all three sharing the same score he could be viewed as high (or low) as fifth.
But even more promising for the Dems chances in the 8th, according to Porterfield, are the results of August's primary.
"We went back and wanted to look at the numbers to find out 'What did the story tell us?'" says Porterfield of analyzing the primary results. "The key is in King County he had 48.5 percent [of the primary vote] and in Pierce 48.8 percent of the vote. The two counties make up 81 percent of the entire [primary] vote."
In essence Porterfield is pointing out that while Chelan, Kittitas, and Douglas Counties lean Republican, in the primary they only represented roughly 19 percent of the total votes cast. And with an especially big turnout expected in Democrat-heavy King County, math like that could spell trouble for Reichert.
Overall, and perhaps surprising to some given the underfunded nature of Porterfield's campaign and the fact the district has been redrawn, Porterfield says she recorded a better showing in the August primary in King and Pierce Counties than Reichert 2010 challenger, Suzan DelBene - the ex-Microsoft Dem who's now vying for a seat in the 1st.
Most telling, according to Porterfield, is the fact that in the August primary Reichert collected only 50.62 percent of the vote - the worst showing of any congressional incumbent.
"He spent almost $2 million and barely cracked 50 percent," Porterfield points out. "He is vulnerable. He is definitely there on the cusp."
Of course, only time will tell if she's right.
But, at the very least, there's certainly mounting evidence to suggest that the 8th isn't the safe zone for Reichert most assume it to be.
Previously on The Daily Weekly:
Poll Shows 8th District Not as Safe for Reichert as Thought, Porterfield Vying for Upset