Monday, December 28, 2009

TDN uses initiative results to draw a bad conclusion in WA3

The WA3 may very well be a swing district, but you shouldn't use the recent ballot initiative results to prove it, as the TDN did last week:

While voters across the state soundly defeated a Tim Eyman anti-tax measure and, by a narrower margin, supported the rights of same-sex couples in November, Southwest Washington voters in the 3rd Congressional District had other ideas.

By a small margin, the 3rd District backed Initiative 1033, Eyman's proposal to cap government tax collections. And by six percentage points, the 3rd District defeated Referendum 71, which extended rights to elderly and same-sex couples similar to those given to married couples.

The numbers, released this month by the Secretary of State's office, are further evidence that the district can be fickle about its politics — and why political pundits say next year's battle to replace outgoing Congressman Brian Baird will be a donnybrook that could become the most expensive campaign in state history.

As I wrote last week, there are two reasons to reject this premise:

1. If you are using initiative results, the 3rd was much more conservative last time there was an open race, when Baird beat a Republican by a healthy margin.

2. The No on 1033 campaign did not compete on the air in SW Washington. If they had spent any money in the Portland television market, the narrow win by 1033 would have been a loss.

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