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August, 16th 2010

WA GOP insiders offer primary predictions

– Liz Mair

Tomorrow, the results in Washington's top-two, "jungle" primary will finally be tallied, and general election matchups in three competitive races Republicans hope to win-- Washington Senate, and the third and eighth district congressional races-- will be set.  Inside the Evergreen State and in the nation's capital, those watching events are curious what will ultimately happen. 

Will Clint Didier make a decent showing and deprive Dino Rossi of an opportunity to match Patty Murray's share of the vote-- or come close-- straight out of the gate? 

Will the Seattle Times' endorsement of Dave Reichert opponents Suzan DelBene and Tim Dillon hurt the incumbent, demonstrably? 

Will David Castillo edge out Jaime Herrera, who seems to have more support from voters I know in Washington's third district, but who is not universally loved in a part of the state where Republican infighting has been relatively heavy?

Earlier today, I polled about twenty Washington Republican insiders, ranging from party officials to former electeds to political operatives, asking them what they expected to see when all the votes are counted tomorrow night.  The figures below represent the average of the numbers respondents provided in respect of each race.  In square brackets is the highest number predicted; in parentheses is the lowest number predicted.  Some of the more interesting comments offered by respondents in relation to each race are also set out below the average numbers (please note that the overwhelming majority of respondents did not comment, merely offered numbers). [intro]

WA-Sen:

Didier: 13% [18%] (10%)

Murray: 45% [48%] (42%)

Rossi: 31% [40%] (23%)

"My guess – and that’s exactly what it is – is that every single tea-party activist will vote... those who discount Clint are fooling themselves. He’s the male Sarah Palin of Washington State... He will be the face of the tea-party coming out of this primary." -- Respondent A

"I bet Dino gets 60% [among GOP voters]." -- Respondent B

WA-03:

Castillo: 18% [28%] (12%)

Heck: 41% [45%] (38%)

Herrera: 29% [35%] (26%)

"If [Herrera] wins, she needs to do some fence-mending with Castillo asap; the same is true in reverse if he wins." -- Respondent A

"Those in the 3rd want Jamie." -- Respondent B

"I have this weird gut feeling that it will be a Herrera Castillo race in the 3rd…call me crazy.  But Heck has done little here." -- Respondent C

Respondent D also added that Hedrick could register a small percentage.

WA-08:

DelBene: 36% [49%] (26%)

Dillon: 7% [9%] (3%)

Reichert: 47% [49%] (43%)

"Washingtonians like to 'send messages' to candidates with their primary votes... don’t know if any of that 'message-sending' will play out in the races below.  If it does, it will be in the 8th." -- Respondent A

For my part, I'm going to refrain from making any specific predictions and just say that:

* In WA-Sen, I expect Rossi's share of the vote to run about 10% behind Murray's.

* In WA-03, I expect the general election match-up to be between Heck and Herrera-- and I wouldn't be surprised to see the margin between the two within the single digits.

* In WA-08, I expect protest votes that could detract from Reichert's share of the vote and hold him in the low-to-mid 40's; DelBene's campaign is in less than perfect order as it stands, and I would also not be surprised to see her fail to garner 40%.

I caveat all this with saying that it's tough to poll in a year like this, when conservatives (and Tea Partiers, such as they are in Washington) are energized, liberals are disenchanted, union organization will play its customary role, but establishment Republicans may skip the primary believing it to be irrelevant.  But the results tomorrow night will say a lot about the competitiveness of the forthcoming Murray-Rossi matchup, and about the competitiveness of WA-03 and WA-08, for Republicans and Democrats, respectively.

Tune in: It will be interesting.

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