Perhaps the best predictor of who will win the race for governor has been the vote in the state’s largest county.
In every governor’s race since then-state Sen. Jim McDermott lost to John Spellman in 1980, the King County winner also ended up winning the office.
But that’s hardly a surprise given the overwhelming size of Seattle and its neighboring communities.
More interesting, however, is that Snohomish County is a really good bellwether for predicting how well gubernatorial candidates will do statewide, according to an analysis by Seattle Times database reporter Justin Mayo.
Going back to 1980, it has had the best record for predicting the statewide vote totals for the winner in governor’s race, often nearly mirroring the eventual outcome.
Starting with the McDermott-Spellman race, which Spellman won with 56.7 percent of the vote to McDermott’s 43.3 percent, the vote tallies by the winning candidate for governor in Snohomish County were never more than 1.2 percent off from the statewide total of the eventual winner.
That year, for example, Spellman won 55.4 percent of the vote in Snohomish County.
In fact, on average, the Snohomish County’s winner’s vote only differed from the statewide winner’s total by 0.7 percent.
That doesn’t mean that Snohomish has always predicted the actual winner. Voters in Snohomish voted for the eventual winner in seven of those eight gubernatorial races.
The one outlier: 2004, when Christine Gregoire beat Dino Rossi statewide by less than 200 votes.
That year, Rossi defeated Gregoire in Snohomish County. But even then, Gregoire’s Snohomish County vote total was still within 1.2 percent of the statewide total, which is far closer to the eventual outcome than the results in King County.
1980 SnoCo Statewide
D McDermott 44.6% 43.3%
R Spellman 55.4% 56.7%
D Gardner 52.7% 53.3%
R Spellman 47.3% 46.7%
D Gardner 62.5% 62.2%
R Williams 37.5% 37.8%
D Lowry 52.4% 52.2%
R Eikenberry 47.6% 47.8%
D Locke 57.4% 58.0%
R Craswell 42.6% 42.0%
D Locke 56.9% 57.9%
R Carlson 41.3% 40.2%
D Gregoire 47.7% 48.9%
R Rossi 49.9% 48.9%
D Gregoire 52.7% 53.2%
R Rossi 47.3% 46.8%