We were all so young when it began. But now, thank you lord, it's over. No more battleground state projections. Gone are the horses, bayonets, and women in binders. Not another word, we can dare to dream, about Ohio, the First Debate -- or poor Seamus. For the most part, it has been a joyless, uninspiring slog, an exhausting and redundant exercise -- nationally and in our own state. Good riddance to Election 2012.
We are drained, all right, but still we have mustered our final reserves to bring to you our election predictions. We're not going to call every contest, just the big ones, the races that have garnered the most discussion. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to share your own picks. OK, here we go -- and with absolute confidence that our prognostications are right on the money.
President: Barack Obama
Our take: The thrill may be gone, but Obama will hang on and win a second term by 1.5 percent, a nail-biting 50.5 percent to 49.0 percent margin. That said, we predict Obama will win five of the nine battlefield states, including Ohio, but lose to Mitt Romney in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Colorado. We project the president will capture a minimum of 281 electoral votes to 257 for Romney, though it's certainly possible he could reach 303 electoral votes, but no higher. We put the odds of Obama's winning the Electoral College, but losing the popular vote, at 1 in 5. A clear verdict on the contest might not be known until daybreak, but it will come far sooner than our governor's race, which, trust us, will go on 'til the cows come home.
Governor: Rob McKenna
Our take: With only 60 percent of the votes likely to be reported on tonight, it is very likely, in our view, that we will not have a winner -- perhaps for a week or more. But in the end, McKenna will squeak by Jay Inslee and become Washington's first Republican governor in 28 years. Do we think this is a bad thing? No, we don't -- nor do the many thousands of Washington Democrats who crossed party lines to vote for McKenna. Final projection: McKenna, 50.4 percent, Inslee, 49.3 percent.
State Attorney General: Bob Ferguson
Our take: What an awful, awful race. Glad to be Dunn with it.
U.S. Senate: Maria Cantwell
Our take: Cantwell wins by a landslide, proving that her $10 million investment 12 years ago paid off nicely. We predict Maria will continue her wonky, albeit, effective ways, continue to dodge the press, and pray there are more Boeing air tankers to save six years from now.
U.S. Representative District 1: Suzan DelBene
Our take: Nothing like being able to bankroll your campaign to the tune of nearly $3 million. The high-tech entrepreneur will win narrowly -- probably in the range of 51 to 49 percent -- thanks in part to Obama's coattails, that, and having the good fortune of running against Tea Partier John Koster, who opposes abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, and was caught using the phrase "the rape thing" to explain his position in greater detail.
King County Sheriff: Steve Strachan
Our take: This has been a contentious race for months, a battle between the relatively newcomer, Strachan -- sheriff for the past 21 months -- pitted against the ultimate insider, John Urquhart, who spent 24 years in sheriff's office, much of it as the department's highly quotable media spokesman. Strachan says it's time to make a clean break with the past -- and King County voters agree.
Moving now to the state ballot measures:
Referendum 74 (gay marriage): Approved
Our take: Washington becomes the seventh state to legalize gay marriage, but not by much. The measure will barely pass, despite the nearly $10 million supporters have thrown into the cause.
Initiative 502 (legalizing marijuana): Approved
Our take: Don't bogart that joint, my friend.
Initiative 1240 (charter schools): Approved
Our take: Nothing surprising here.
Initiative 1185: Approved
Our take: Tim Eyman wins the battle to reaffirm the nearly 20-year-old state law requiring that tax increases pass with a two-thirds vote in the Legislature or else receive direct voter approval. It's deja vu all over again, as voters in Washington have enacted or confirmed the two-thirds vote requirement four times, in 1993, 1998, 2007 and 2010. This a bad public policy, pure and simple.