Friday, November 5, 2010

Whatcom County at 70,712 Votes Counted

This is the fourth round of ballot counting. 70,712  ballots have been counted with 17,000 ballots noted as left to count. Kelli Linville has drawn within 545 votes of Vincent Buys.  The remaining 17,000 ballots (if no more arrive) should be representative of the increasingly  liberal turnout here, a pattern revealed in the general election of 2008, which broke a record for turnout in Whatcom County. Support for  Murray, Larsen, Morris, Lytton continues to strengthen in Whatcom County. In contradistinction, Tony Larson increased his large lead over Jean Melious. Go figure.

Why should the 'later' turnouts be more 'liberal' or 'progressive'? Actually, it is not a "late" turnout since the ballots are all collected or postmarked on time. And it may not explicitly be 'liberal' or 'progressive'. I believe this is a question of participation. There are a number of natural constituencies for the Democratic or a progressive party in Whatcom County that have only recently begun to be tapped. I imagine, based on current census data, that some of these groups would/could include names/numbers like these:
  • Students 16,000 - 18,000 95% registered?
  • Hispanic Origin 12,000 - 13,000 60% registered?
  • Native Americans 5,000 - 6,000 60% registered?
  • African Americans  2,000 60% registered?

These groups may represent as many as twenty-five thousand registered votes in Whatcom County and they will continue to increase in volume over time.  These groups may also represent some of the least resourced and/or most transient populations in Whatcom County, making it more difficult for them to consistently complete the fundamentals of citizenship.

For example, if your address is not permanent, you have to remember to change that address (either in person or on-line) when you return in the fall, move to a new apartment, or (perhaps) return from seasonal 'out of county' work. In addition, more impoverished populations will have some difficulty understanding ballot issues (as if any us fully read all those initiatives anyway...), completing a full ballot, etc. Most WWU students, as capable as they may be, are still just young adults in our largely suburban culture, looking for direction in life. In addition, there are strong cultural disincentives for impoverished racial minorities to vote. What exactly, has either party ever done for them, especially recently? Have they benefited from the recent trend in concentration of wealth?  Few have, I would imagine.  But during this election, apparently many in these groups voted anyway, and that is an encouraging fact.

I have no idea how strong the Whatcom Democratic Party outreach is to these constituencies now.  It should be systematic, if the Democrats want to increase voter turnout rates. And there are some real opportunities for the Democratic Party to make some gains here, especially because the Tea Party and the Republican Party have, for one reason or another, positioned themselves as quite reactionary of late.  If you read David Neiwert and John Amato's latest:

"Over the Cliff: How Obama's Election Drove the American Right Insane"
 (Amato and Neiwert 2010 PoliPointPress - available in paperback now at Village Books)

you may come away with a fear of just how dangerous "Tea Partiers" could be. Essentially, Neiwert and Amato characterize the Tea Party and the current Republican Party to be nothing short of manipulated non-thinkers espousing 'White Supremacist' doctrine.  Well that's a tad more strong then the characterization in the book, but not by much. Because I don't watch cable news or listen to radio, I'm afraid I was only vaguely aware of how incendiary the right wing has become in the last two years. Never mind if you eschew those media though, a single late night spent reading Neiwert and Amato will bring you up to speed and ruin any chance at a good sleep.

I might sleep better tonight knowing that Koster, Rossi, and Buys will not be in power, but some would consider such an attitude short-sighted.  What after all, did the Democratic Party do to stop the the genocidal action against people of color in Iraq and Afghanistan that we still have the gall to name "The War on Terror"? What did the Democratic Party do to stop the abysmal concentration of wealth in this country that many arrogantly call "free market Capitalism"?  Perhaps we should let the reactionaries win so as to unite their victims under a party far more progressive, less capitalistic and less imperialist than the current Democratic Party? Perhaps we should organize the Northwest Communist Party NOW just to provide a counterweight to the inevitable development of right wing fascism in the U.S.?  If I did so tomorrow, dear reader, would you join with me? Sleep on that please, and make sure to prepare your revolutionary rhetoric by morning! Viva, Viva, Viva La RevoluciĆ³n!

[Whatcom County Results for 11/5/2010 with 17,000 ballots left to count]

Patty Murray 36058 69457 51.91
Dino Rossi 33399 69457 48.09
John Koster 32835 69379 47.33
Rick Larsen 36544 69379 52.67

Kristine Lytton 11750 19345 60.74
Mike Newman 7595 19345 39.26
Jeff Morris 11635 19349 60.13
John Swapp 7714 19349 39.87
Doug Ericksen 29383 48940 60.04
Pat Jerns 19557 48940 39.96
Jason Overstreet 25940 48830 53.12
Al Jensen 22890 48830 46.88
Vincent Buys 24920 49295 50.55
Kelli Linville 24375 49295 49.45

Richard B. Sanders 28581 56006 51.03
Charlie Wiggins 27425 56006 48.97
Jean Melious 26931 61031 44.13
Tony Larson 34100 61031 55.87

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