December 31, 2012 at 7:00 AM
We have filed more than 400 posts on U.S. presidential, state, and local politics over the past 12 months. It’s been an incredible experience as journalists, educators, and citizens. We’re now going to take a break, but we’ll be back in four years for the next presidential rodeo.
Nearly one year ago, on Jan. 14, I boarded an airplane with three University of Washington students and headed across the country. Our mission was epic: to spend a week on the ground reporting on the South Carolina 2012 Republican Party presidential primary. It was our first gig for UW Election Eye, a new blog partnership of the UW’s Department of Communication and The Seattle Times.
One week later I had a pretty good idea who was going to win the 2012 presidential election. Arizona congressional representative Trent Franks told me so.
Franks, one of the nation’s most conservative congressional members and a favorite of the tea party movement, was standing by Newt Gingrich’s bus as Gingrich spoke to supporters in his last stop of the state’s primary. A few hours later Gingrich would win his first statewide race in his life — a double-digit victory over Mitt Romney that upended the Republican primary for a time.
Franks was one of the few members of Congress to endorse Gingrich. A former speaker of the House of Representatives, Gingrich does not have many friends in high political places these days. But Franks is one of them, and he was traveling with Gingrich on the campaign trail.
I spoke with Franks for 10 minutes while Gingrich held court inside a restaurant. Franks told me why he supported Gingrich and why Barack Obama had to be defeated. I thanked him for talking with me and turned to walk away.
That’s when Franks surprised me.
He took hold of my arm and said, “Hold on, I’ve got one more thing to say.” I was listening. He stretched out his index finger and said “The 1 percent. We hear a lot about the 99 percent and the 1 percent. Mitt Romney is a caricature of the 1 percent — rich, out of touch, doesn’t understand most of America. If Republicans nominate Romney in the midst of this terrible economic time, we’re going to lose. That’s why I’m here. We will lose if we pick Romney.”
That’s when I knew: If a diehard conservative, a red-blooded Republican who would do anything to get rid of Obama, thought Romney couldn’t win, then Romney almost certainly wouldn’t win.
That moment is one I’ll not forget. It was one of the hundreds of up-close-and-personal experiences, all over America, that defined UW Election Eye.
December 6, 2012 at 7:41 AM
Same-sex couples gathered in downtown Seattle today to get their marriage licenses. King County Executive Dow Constantine was on hand to sign marriage certificates, while syndicated columnist Dan Savage and others celebrated the landmark day in Washington State history. Here are some highlights.
November 21, 2012 at 6:00 AM
Some Washingtonians miss the satisfaction of visiting polling stations on election day. Some Washingtonians prefer the ease of voting from home on their own schedule. But no matter where your opinion falls on mail-in ballots, the correlation between them and increased voting rates is striking.
SEATTLE — Mail-in balloting has caused an increase of voter turnout as the Washington Secretary of State announced a 78.8% voter turnout to date. With one week to go until the office certifies the election results, it is thought that final turnout should land between 80 and 81%—in line with expectations.
San Juan County leads the way thus far with a turnout of 88.53%, while Thurston County (72.31%) is in last place with approximately 11,000 ballots yet to be counted. King County’s turnout is 79.34% but will likely crawl above 80% after the remaining ballots are counted.
Voter turnout has been buoyed by mail-in balloting in recent years. However, this year’s numbers falls short of the turnout in the past two presidential elections. Both 2004 (82.2%) and 2008 (84.6%) saw a greater percentage of voters turn out.
With the state rumored to be progressing toward an e-mail ballot solution similar to what is currently available for members of the military, voter turnout may continue to increase over the coming years.
November 7, 2012 at 11:19 AM
BELLEVUE — Would-be partiers in Bellevue turned in early last night as news of President Obama’s win filtered through the crowd at the Washington state Republican gathering.
Though the crowd anticipated a win by Rob McKenna, the Republican candidate for governor, those votes won’t be finally counted until later this week, so there was little left to party for Tuesday night after presidential hopeful Mitt Romney lost the national election. Most of the several hundred supporters gathered to party had dispersed by 11:30 p.m.
In the meantime, though, Republican supporters cheered on McKenna as he delivered a speech anticipating victory and spoke of the challenges he would face as the first Republican governor of Washington in nearly 30 years. Though McKenna was down by about 2.5 percent Tuesday night, Washington Republican Party chairman Kirby Wilbur said his team was prepared for a lag Tuesday and expect McKenna to pull ahead again when all the votes are counted later this week.
One such supporter was Seattle resident Shiao-Yen Wu, who said she and her Pomeranian, Zoro, are huge McKenna supporters. They’ve been to many McKenna rallies, so Wu decided to also bring Zoro along to the Washington State Republican Party’s final celebration of the election cycle.
November 7, 2012 at 8:49 AM
SEATTLE — Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) beat former Governor Tommy Thompson (R) last night to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate. Baldwin is the first female Senator to represent Wisconsin.
And with the race still close to call, former State Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D) is still narrowly edging out Councilmember Vernon Parker (R) for Arizona’s 9th District for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Baldwin’s win and Sinema’s competitive showing represent more than the success of two women. These women embody representational progress at the intersection of gender and sexual orientation.
In the United States, we have a representative democracy. That means, instead of us all gathering as a nation to deliberate politics as was done during Ancient Greece, we elect politicians to represent us, and to deliberate politics on the modern-day forum of the Congressional floor.
But representative democracy can have another meaning: The idea of self-representation. The idea that beyond our ideas and ideologies being represented, there is the idea that we as people with different genders, races, ethnicities, education, occupations, religion, geographies, and sexual orientations are physically represented.
Self-representation is important because not all politicians are alike. For example, women in Congress do bring something different to the table than their male colleagues. A recent article in New York magazine showcased the differences:
“For a forthcoming paper on female lawmakers’ effectiveness, three political scientists crunched all 138,246 bills introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives over the past four decades. They found women introduced twice as many bills on civil rights and liberties bills; many more on ‘family’ concerns; and significantly more on labor, immigration, education, and health. In other words, it’s about much more than who is paying for my birth control. They note that despite a century of discussion about health-care policy, it took a female speaker of the House to make universal health care happen.”
Therefore it is not unreasonable to think that members of Congress who represent different sexual orientations may also put forth issues and legislation that are different than other members, and that are also of concern to the people they represent–be it representation of their constituency or self-representation.
The role of self-representational politics is embraced by select politicians. For example. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has said, “There are still so few women in Congress…so you really do have to represent much more than your own state…Women from all over the country really do follow what you do and rely on you to speak out for them.”
Of course, the task to represent these segments of the population should not only fall on these politicians, nor should it automatically fall on them based on their identities alone.
That said, Baldwin’s win last night, and the potential success of Sinema, mean that the 113th U.S. Congress is slowly becoming more representative of all Americans.
November 7, 2012 at 1:32 AM
SEATTLE — Jay Inslee had not taken take the stage at the Seattle Westin tonight to proclaim victory in the Washington gubernatorial race, but that didn’t matter to the boisterous crowd surging up to the stage. Magnified on large screens on either side of his podium, voice cracking after weeks of hard campaigning, Inslee was barely audible over the frequent cheers of campaign workers and supporters.
It was when President Obama’s speech began to be live-streamed onto the same screens, alternately with the image of Inslee, that the latter succumbed to a long day and cries of “Obama! Obama!” and left the stage with his family and his supporters. Obama’s victory speech was punctuated by periodic bursts of applause and cheers by the crowd. On a night when the governor’s race remains too close to call with certainty, Democrats had no doubt about who their president will be for the next four years. As Obama ended his speech with the words “… we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America,” the crowd erupted in arm-waving, emotional approval.
Celebration at the landmark Seattle hotel was not confined to candidate races. Supporters of Referendum 74, which legitimizes gay marriage, also had cause to celebrate. “All LGBT youth will know that they’re loved and accepted by our society now,” said supporter Aaron Horton. A University of Washington student from Spokane who has helped work on the referendum campaign for the past six months, Horton added that he is excited at the prospect that he will not be constrained from marrying the person he chooses. “I’m excited to know that no one can tell me who to love,” he said.
November 6, 2012 at 9:22 PM
SEATTLE–With so many viewing parties happening in Seattle tonight, it can be hard to pick the perfect spot. But the newly renovated Husky Union Building on the UW’s Seattle campus appears to be the destination of choice for many students so far – and even for some who don’t attend the UW.
Alem Hamzie and Nebojsa Pavlouie, both 17 and citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said they have been looking forward to this night for quite some time.
“When we were selected to go on this program they said ‘oh, you guys will be there during the elections,’ so this is something that we have been waiting for,” Pavlouie said.
Both Hamzie and Pavouie are part of an 18-member youth leadership group that is working with Foundation for International Understanding Through Students at UW. FIUTS is a program that fosters an international community through the connection of international and American students. The group from Bosnia and Herzegovina are staying in Seattle for three weeks and then will travel to Washington, D.C., for their last week in the U.S.
“America plays a big role in the world so [elections] are big event and it’s really important, even for us in our tiny little country,” said Pavlouie.
Maxine Sugarman, a member of Office of Governmental Relations of ASUW, said that she was attracted to this event because it was inclusive of all students.
“Just looking around I don’t know everyone here, I think that’s a good sign that someone who is a part of the association is seeing new faces.”
Brandon Himes, ASUW Director of Communications who works in the HUB, joked that he attended the event because it was a “close commute.”
Himes said he did not have an expectation of what the turnout would be like for the night. His impression so far is that it’s been nice to have people who support all different kinds of issues gathered in one spot.
The event at the HUB was jointly sponsored by the Office of Governmental Relations of ASUW, the Arts and Entertainment of ASUW and the ASUW Joint Commissions Committee.
Daniel Pham, a senior sociology major at the UW, stumbled upon the event by accident.
“I was walking up to see what it was all about, then there was a lot of students so I figured I’d just join,” said Pham.
Pham said he plans to stay if his friends show up. “I texted them and was like ‘hey, come to the HUB.’”
If they don’t make it, he said he will likely go to a friend’s apartment and continue to follow the elections.
Sugarman and Himes say they plan to stay at least until they announce the Montana results because they are both citizens of that state.
“It’s kind of super cool, because you watch this on TV at home and now you are in the U.S. and watching it for real,” said Pavouie.
November 6, 2012 at 7:22 PM
SEATTLE — Missouri has been a real-world experiment in politics. The question: Can a candidate push the rhetorical envelope, become a pariah of their party, and still win?
Missouri Rep. Todd Akin (R) has taken up this charge while running against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) for Senate. Akin has caught national headlines for several controversial comments.
The biggest of which happened in August during a local TV interview when Akin was asked whether he supported abortion in the case of rape. In response Akin said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Previously during the Republican primaries, Akin said that federal student loans have given America “stage 3 cancer of Socialism.”
And before all of this, back in 2008, Akin claimed that women who were not pregnant were still getting abortions from “abortionists…the very bottom of the food chain of the medical profession.”
But after a long election season, Missouri voters gave us the answer: You can push the envelope, but you’re not going to win. As of just past 7PM PT, NBC and FOX have called the race, and McCaskill has won.
Akin can now commiserate over the fallout of ill-fated rape comments with the likes of GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who lost his bid tonight in Indiana after recently saying, “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,” and Clayton Williams, a Republican candidate for Texas Governor who ran and lost against Ann Richards in 1990. At an event, Williams related bad weather to rape when he said: “As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
Let it be known candidates of 2014 and beyond, be mindful of your words because just saying “I misspoke” afterwards does not heal all political wounds.
November 6, 2012 at 7:17 PM
Two UWEE bloggers compare their experience on election night 2008 to tonight – a night full of memories and emotions.
SEATTLE – I remember four years ago: I was a freshman at the University of Washington and had just voted for the first time in my life. I remember feeling educated and that my voice mattered in regards to the future of my country.
I was sitting in the common room of my freshman residence hall when the results were announced, Barack Obama had won the 2008 election. The room went wild with excitement. Students hugged other students they’d never even met before. People shouting how this was the future of our country. But within minutes, many had jumped back into their homework. The girl next to me, whom I was still just getting to know, grabbed me by the hand and said, “Let’s go!”
We ran upstairs to our rooms, quickly changed and bolted to Red Square, the center of campus, where a crowd had already gathered. I stood on the steps of the oldest library on campus with thousands of my peers chanting slogans we’d heard throughout the election. Looking back now, it was truly one of the most thrilling moments of my young adult life.
The crowd marched across campus, people perched on shoulders and others holding signs. After over an hour of celebration, a large pack migrated to Capitol Hill, I however headed back to my hall. This year, I’m in Capitol Hill, ready to celebrate the second half of my night that I didn’t do in 2008. The only question now is if I’ll get the chance.
SEATTLE — I remember four years ago: the streets were packed in Capitol hill from edge to edge for blocks upon blocks with revelers celebrating then-candidate Obama’s win. I was one of them. I marched from the University District up to Capitol Hill to celebrate with throngs of the city’s liberal youth.
Today, as I drove my Vespa up to the hill for the Washington Bus election night watch party at Neumos the streets remained free of revelers, full of the usual traffic.
I expected a packed house. Perhaps everyone’s down at the Westin Hotel where the Approve Referendum 74 campaign is holding its watch party, where gubernatorial candidate Rep. Jay Inslee should be in attendance. The tables are mostly full and many are standing. Slowly throughout the last half hour the standing-room area has filled with more and more people.
My mind is racing a mile a minute: looking up at the large screen with CNN’s election broadcast, tapping this post away on my netbook, checking the Twittersphere constantly for other perspectives and news outlet predictions.
November 6, 2012 at 2:12 PM
UWEE reporter and MCDM graduate, Daniel Thornton, writes from Scotland below on local coverage and opinions of the U.S. election.
SCOTLAND — I’m checking in today from the Scottish capitol Edinburgh with a few quick observations about how the Scots (and the United Kingdom as a whole) are seeing the U.S. Presidential Election from afar.
Although most Scots don’t see themselves necessarily as a part of a greater Britain, they do share many of the same viewpoints regarding who they prefer to see elected as the next President of the United States.
In that, they do not differ much from the rest of Europe. In the run-up to their 2014 vote on independence from the United Kingdom, Scotland increasingly looks to the European Union as their natural home outside of the U. K. Hence one of the main slogans supporting the pro-independence campaign: “Scotland, Independent in Europe.”
This makes the current U.S. election particularly important for Scots as they look for alliances across the pond economically and politically. Scotland will need U.S. support in NATO as much as it will need its membership in the E.U. supported by membership states if they vote to secede from the U.K. That isn’t guaranteed, so Scottish First Minister (the equivalent of the U.K. Prime Minister) Alex Salmond has been spending time in America looking for political and economic opportunities for Scotland.
On this U.S. election day, most newspapers in Scotland and in the greater United Kingdom have been covering the election in print and online. The state-run BBC will be broadcasting regular live updates nationally and regionally and BBC Radio Scotland has been leading their regular news updates with U.S. election coverage.
While most U.K. news outlets refrain from openly endorsing a U.S. candidate, it doesn’t take much effort to see that even the most conservative outlets support Barack Obama. Indeed the one major U.K. newspaper that has actually endorsed a candidate is the London based conservative, pro-business Financial Times who endorsed Obama yesterday. Listening to coverage on the radio and watching it on the television also reveals an almost universal bias with some commentators barely concealing their incredulity when interviewing Romney supporters.
In Scotland, the two biggest dailies, Edinburghs more conservative The Scotsman and Glasgow’s left leaning Herald are both covering the election with a view that the election is Obama’s to lose. Coverage of last week’s super-storm Sandy dominated much of local and national news has now been replaced by the election and the fallout from that coverage is a reinforcing view that Obama is the seasoned statesman who has expertly negotiated both the “great recession” and the aftermath of the hurricane.
South of the border in England, even the conservative Daily Telegraph leads its coverage today with the headline “Election acrimony as Obama closes in on victory” and a giant picture of the president being embraced by Bruce Springsten. This along with the Financial Time’s endorsement follow a narrative of the election that political reporters and pundits in the UK almost can’t believe that the election could actually be that close. Ultimately it will be the US electorate and the Electoral College that will determine the outcome. All of us over here will have to watch and wait.
On the street here in Edinburgh most Scots see Barack Obama as a stabilizing force in America and see Mitt Romney’s campaign as dishonest and duplicitous. The prim and proper owner of Edinburgh’s venerable Waverley Pub in the city’s picturesque old town even went so far as to say that a Romney presidency would be “dangerous.” After buying a sampling of U.K. newspapers at a local newsagent, the owner asked me who I believed would win the election, I deflected by saying that I don’t believe that the polls are as close as they seem.
She volunteered, “I hope so. We love Obama here.”