Washington Election Results: LIVE Initiative 502 Hangs in the Balance


UPDATE 1:55am Statewide Results: (as of 1:55am EST)

President: Barack Obama +12

Senate: Maria Cantwell +18

Governor: Jay Inslee +2.5

Attorney General: Bob Ferguson +5

1st Congressional District: Suzan DelBene +8

6th Congressional District: Derek Kilmer +16

Referendum 74: Approved +3

Initiative 502: Approved +9

Initiative 1185: Approved +29

Initiative 1240: Approved +2


Without a doubt, Washington bleeds very blue tonight. While only 50% of the votes have been counted thanks to Washington's all-mail voting rules, many races can already be called. As expected, President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney to  receive the state's twelve electoral votes and incumbent Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell easily beat Republican state Senator Michael Baumgartner. Voters also approved same-sex marriage and legalized the distribution and use of marijuana. In the 6th Congressional District, Derek Kilmer will carry on the Democratic legacy of Norm Dicks, easily beating his Republican opponent Bill Driscoll. The Seattle Times has called the race for Democrat Suzan DelBene in the 1st Congressional District over opponent Republican John Koster.

A few races may take longer to resolve. In the race for the governor's mansion, Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna have both expressed a willingness to wait for results, so while Inslee leads tonight it's unlikely that either will concede until King County has finished tallying. The measure to create public charter schools is passing by just forty thousand votes, with latent opposition in King County that will likely affect the tally more once King County releases more results tomorrow.

Later tonight, you should look for updated results from Pierce County on their website. The Secretary of State displays the statewide totals on their website. Tomorrow, King County is the main county to watch and they will release another round of results at 4:30pm.

If you want to keep following the election here in Washington, here are some great resources:

Politics Northwest, a blog by the Seattle Times

The Everett Herald election liveblog

KING-5's election liveblog

Also note that even though I'm wrapping up now (I live on the East Coast, and I have work in the morning), there's a lot of analysis and background on the races from earlier tonight if you scroll down.

1:23am Snohomish County has failed to get any new numbers up at 10pm like they promised, but the Secretary of State has added Snohomish numbers from earlier tonight. I'll have a wrap-up and the latest totals up pretty soon. In the mean time, enjoy a video of Nate Silver talking about being awesome at statistics at the NYTimes.

12:30am Once more we have new numbers but substantively similar percentages on the Secretary of State's website; that's because Okanogan has chimed in with a grand total of 9,000 votes. By comparison, 3.9 million people are registered statewide. We'll post new statewide numbers probably when we get new reports in from Yakima or Snohomish.

The major upside of Romney refusing to concede is that I have plenty of company among those still watching the election results. #thanksmitt

12:20am Major news outlets are reporting that both same-sex marriage and marijuana have been legalized in Washington, as they have been in several other states.

12:18am For those just tuning in or those too lazy to read through all the charts I posted (I feel you), here's your recap of the contested races:

President: Incumbent Barack Obama (D) is beating Mitt Romney (R) by thirteen points.

Senator: Incumbent Maria Cantwell (D) is beating Michael Baumgartner (R) by nearly twenty points.

1st Congressional District: Suzan DelBene (D) has a ten-point lead over John Koster (R).

6th Congressional District: Derek Kilmer (D) has a nineteen-point lead over Bill Driscoll (R).

Governor: Jay Inslee (D) has a two-point lead over Rob McKenna (R).

R-74: So far, voters have approved legalization of same-sex marriage by about five points.

I-502: So far, voters have passed a measure to legalize marijuana by nearly twelve points.

As I noted earlier, the counties that still have more to report are Snohomish County, Pierce County and King County (although King won't update until tomorrow). Snohomish County has yet to be added to the vote totals. What does this mean? Most Democratic margins of victory will grow as we get more numbers, as will liberal measures such as legalization of same-sex marriage and marijuana. Close races will still be close. The real battleground will still be for the governor's mansion -- without King County counting more votes, it's unlikely McKenna will concede just yet.

If there are any more races you want to make sure I'm including in my regular updates, let me know in the comments!

12:05am The Secretary of State has just updated vote totals but percentages have not substantively changed; that's because the only new county reporting was Wahkiakum who contributed just over two thousand votes.

11:57pm Most counties have done at least one round of reporting to the Secretary of State, although some major counties appear to be excluded, including Snohomish and Yakima. As I noted earlier, Snohomish and Pierce both plan to release another round of results tonight, so we're waiting up for that as well as to see Snohomish get added to the statewide totals. I would add it up myself but I'm a Religious Studies major and these things aren't usually expected of us.

11:47pm Statewide recap on the major candidate races:

Obama-Romney: 56-43

Cantwell-Baumgartner: 60-40

Delbene-Koster: 55-45

Ferguson-Dunn: 53-47

McKenna-Inslee: 51.68-48.32

11:44pm Statewide recap so far on the major measures (the website is going up and down):

I-1185: 64-34

I-1240: 51-49

I-502: 56-44

R-74: 52-48

11:37pm And King County Elections is back! Major races:  Obama winning with 68% of the vote, Cantwell winning with 71% of the vote, Suzan Delbene winning with 59% of the vote, Inslee has nearly 63% of the vote, Bob Ferguson with 65% of the vote. I-502 passing with 64% of the vote, R-74 being approved with 65% of the vote, I-1240 has only garnered 49% of the vote, I-1185 passing with 54% of the vote.

11:32pm Trying to do a recap of statewide results but that website has also crashed. Do we not live in the state that birthed Microsoft? Let's get some tech support in here!

11:25pm King County Website is experiencing technical difficulties, likely from overload -- we'll do breakdowns there once things have settled down. The one page I managed to access before it shut down told me that Obama trounced Romney in King County -- something I was already fairly confident of!

11:21pm With also nearly 40% of the ballots counted, Pierce County's results on major races so far:

  Votes Percent

Initiative Measure No. 1185

Yes 111,306 69.33% No 49,235 30.67%   Over Votes 33   Under Votes 7,954    

Initiative Measure No. 1240

Yes 90,640 55.76% No 71,901 44.24%   Over Votes 16   Under Votes 5,971    

Referendum Measure No. 74

Approved 78,250 47.53% Rejected 86,377 52.47%   Over Votes 19   Under Votes 3,882    

Initiative Measure No. 502

Yes 88,283 53.51% No 76,688 46.49%

President & Vice President

D - Barack Obama / Joe Biden 88,323 53.01% R - Mitt Romney / Paul Ryan 74,452 44.69%

U.S. Senator

- Maria Cantwell 96,283 58.47% - Michael Baumgartner 68,196 41.41%


- Jay Inslee 79,094 47.95% - Rob McKenna 85,391 51.77%

Attorney General

- Bob Ferguson 80,295 50.44% - Reagan Dunn 78,530 49.33%

11:15pm With nearly 40% of the ballots counted, Snohomish County's results on major races:

Initiative 1185 756/756 100.00%

  Vote Count Percent YES 104,382 66.87% NO 51,716 33.13% Total 156,098 100.00%


Initiative 1240 756/756 100.00%

  Vote Count Percent YES 84,818 53.68% NO 73,181 46.32% Total 157,999 100.00%


Referendum 74 756/756 100.00%

  Vote Count Percent APPROVED 82,518 51.66% REJECTED 77,226 48.34% Total 159,744 100.00%


Initiative to the Legislature 502 756/756 100.00%

  Vote Count Percent YES 88,119 54.97% NO 72,190 45.03% Total 160,309 100.00%


  Vote Count Percent Barack Obama / Joe Biden    (Democratic Party Nominees) 92,244 56.76% Mitt Romney / Paul Ryan    (Republican Party Nominees) 66,357 40.83%

U.S. SENATOR 756/756 100.00%

  Vote Count Percent Maria Cantwell    (Prefers Democratic Party) 96,344 60.04% Michael Baumgartner    (Prefers Republican Party) 63,846 39.79%

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DIST 1 289/289 100.00%

  Vote Count Percent John Koster    (Prefers Republican Party) 30,217 48.22% Suzan DelBene    (Prefers Democratic Party) 32,278 51.51%

GOVERNOR 756/756 100.00%

  Vote Count Percent Jay Inslee    (Prefers Democratic Party) 83,014 51.73% Rob McKenna    (Prefers Republican Party) 77,052 48.02%

ATTORNEY GENERAL 756/756 100.00%

  Vote Count Percent Bob Ferguson    (Prefers Democratic Party) 84,832 54.60% Reagan Dunn    (Prefers Republican Party) 70,279 45.23%

11:07pm Despite the fact that no numbers have been officially released, most major networks have already called Washington for Obama. No quarrel here, Washington hasn't gone red in the Electoral College since 1984.

11:00pm Polls have officially closed, and we should see results soon. The Everett Herald reports that both Snohomish County and Pierce County will report two rounds of results tonight, both just after 8pm and then again at 10pm in Snohomish and 11pm in Pierce.  King County only plans to report one round tonight.

10:54pm Will Snohomish County be the bellwether?

The Seattle Times argues that Snohomish County has been the best predictor of the governor's race since 1980. 538 made a similar argument in their Political Geography series, calling Snohomish County "almost exact barometer of Washington’s political mood in the last three presidential elections."

This is great news for people who want to have a good idea of the identity of our new governor tonight, as Snohomish County will almost certainly finish counting before King County. Keep this in mind when the results start coming in!

10:47pm When Seattle hip hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis debuted the music video of their song, "Same Love," it got shared by over thirty of my Facebook friends almost immediately:

The duo have been outspoken supporters of the campaign to Approve Referendum 74, which would make same-sex marriage legal in Washington State. As I noted earlier, Washington voters already approved Referendum 71 in 2009, which gave same-sex domestic partnerships all the legal rights of marriage, and polls indicate they are likely to approve 74 as well. Much of the strong support is expressed via social media, as with the earlier Initiative 508 to legalize marijuana. A representative post on Facebook from a friend of mine: "Let people marry whoever the hell they want, and legalized that good green stuff. #flamingliberalnotevensorry"

The campaign to approve Referendum 74 has garnered numerous corporate endorsements in WA, with local giants T-Mobile, REI, Nordstrom, Starbucks, Microsoft and Amazon among many, many others joining the Washington United for Marriage coalition. Even religious leaders have lent support to the campaign, with more than sixty retired Catholic priests from the state opposing the local Archbishop's decision to oppose same-sex marriage.

10:21pm In a break from our profiles of major races (scroll down if you missed them!), KING-5's Drew Mikkelsen reports that lines to get a replacement ballot in Pierce County are an hour long:

Less than forty minutes until the (metaphorical) polls close in Washington and we get some results!

10:14pm In Washington's 6th Congressional District, Democratic state senator Derek Kilmer looks to succeed retiring Democratic Congressman Norm Dicks, who has been in Congress for 35 years. While polling has been sparse in his race against successful Republican businessman and former Marine Bill Driscoll, the smart money is for the district to remain in Democratic hands.

Kilmer received over 50% of the vote in the Democratic primary. While Driscoll likely got less votes because the Republican field was split, RealClearPolitics has noted before that Democratic percentage of the vote in the primary in Washington tends to mirror the general election because of Washington's Top 2 primary. This seems even more likely to hold in less prominent races.

9:55pm Incumbent Democratic junior senator Maria Cantwell is so confident in her reelection aginst first-term Republican state senator Michael Baumgartner that she took time out of her day yesterday to phone bank for the campaign to approve Referendum 74 (legalizing same-sex marriage):

She's likely right to be confident; the RealClearPolitics average gives her more than a twenty-point lead. The Seattle PI reported Oct. 26th that Cantwell's polling was so strong that she has instead devoted her time to helping out fellow Democrats in tighter races around the state and around the country. The Seattle Time's endorsement calls her a "workhorse" and praises her "tireless, state-based work in Congress." While Cantwell may not have the national profile of fellow WA Senator Patty Murray, who was the only female member of the deficit supercommittee last November and currently chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, she clearly has earned the respect of Washingtonians for her solid work behind the scenes.

9:35pm Gubernatorial candidates Rob McKenna (R) and Jay Inslee (D) spent today doing last-minute campaigning. A few of my favorite shots:

The RealClearPolitics average has Inslee ahead by one point, but many observers seem to think it's too close to call. While Washington has not had a Republican governor since 1985, Seattle Weekly thinks he'll break that trend, and 12 of Washington's 13 daily newspapers have endorsed him.

Fun fact: McKenna is currently the WA Attorney General, which is the same position that launched his predecessor Christine Gregoire to the governor's mansion in 2004. Jay Inslee is the 1st Congressional District Representative -- Delbene and Koster (mentioned earlier) are currently fighting over his vacated seat.

8:48pm We are getting an early snapshot of Edison Media Research exit polls from WA from the AP. A few highlights:

--People are concerned about the economy but they are optimistic: "Washington voters were focused on the economy with a majority calling it the top problem facing the country -- though more voters say it's on the mend than think it's getting worse. Just over 1 in 5 say the economy is now excellent or good."

--Voters are split on the role of government: Half the voters wanted less government and the health care law repealed, 40% of voters wanted more government and the health care law upheld.

--Contrary to the talking point that most voters tune in for the first time around the debates, "About 7 in 10 voters said they made up their mind about a presidential candidate before September."

8:37pm Just as Republicans has promised, the free ride for the freeloaders has ended…but in this case, they are targeting not average citizens but WA journalists. The Seattle Times reports that journalists covering the Republican election party in Bellevue have to pay nearly $200/person in power and internet fees. Across the lake, journalists covering the Democratic election party in Seattle will not be charged. The classic battle of capitalism vs. socialism!

(In the Republicans' defense, they say it's just the rules of their host, the Hyatt Regency Bellevue.)

8:20pm For those of you hoping to know the results of Washington's close races by the end of the night, you may have to prepare for disappointment. Secretary of Sam Reed warns that we may not know the winner of close races until later this week:

Reed has predicted that 40% of the vote will not be counted today thanks, among other things, to rules that ballots can be postmarked and dropped off at the last minute today. The Daily Columbian reminds us that Reed has previously lobbied to change Washington's rules to match fellow vote-by-mail neighbor Oregon, where ballots must be received by election day.

8:09pm Looking for an alternative to watching high-intensity CNN? Check out King County's "live elections cams" and see the election service center and the ballot processing center live for yourself:

It would probably be more exciting if people were actually voting in person instead of just watching poll workers examine printed ballots but hey, there had to be a downside of mail-in balloting!

7:33pm Since we won't get official results for a few hours, we're going to do some profiles on key races. First up is Initiative 502, the proposition to legalize the production, distribution and possession of marijuana for those over 21 years of age. Public Policy Polling's final poll, conducted at the end of October, shows WA voters ready to approve the initiative by a 9-point margin.

Want more info? Time recently profiled the wide-ranging support for I-502, including a significant base of support from the law-enforcement community:

Interestingly, a pro-legalization group in WA opposes the law, making the argument that it would lead to ineffective and overly restrictive government regulation of cannabis. Over at HuffPo, they cite former federal law enforcement officials warning that legalization will conflict with federal law, potentially leading to a "constitutional showdown."

7:03pm Seattle Weekly has more details about break-in at the Washington State Democrats campaign HQ in Seattle earlier today. At least two laptop computers are missing, and no suspects have been located yet.

6:26pm - For those of you who could use a break from the seriousness of the campaigns, let's take a look back at the perhaps the most infamous (and hilarious) of the 2012 Election in Washington, courtesy of 1st Congressional District candidate Suzan Delbene's last-minute ad push during the Olympics that propelled her through the Top 2 primary and gave rise to the phrase, "It's Suzan Delbene!":


You may not have seen John Koster's parody/response, since his campaign didn't have the funding to run ads on network television, but it's pretty funny:


More on the race between Delbene and Koster can be found courtesy of articles at The Everett Herald and The Seattle Times.

6:07pm - The Seattle Times reports some ballot collection controversy over a technically legal effort by the King County Republican Party. The party is offering to pick up and deliver voters' ballots for them in 'GOP Victory Vans':

Republican gubernatorial candidate and current WA Attorney General Rob McKenna defends the practice, telling KIRO TV: "We call people. Actually, we don't knock on random doors. We're calling people who haven't sent their ballots in, and if they want us to come over to pick up their ballots, we do so. We don't show up unannounced in the same way some of the Democratic activists do."

5:41pm -  Welcome to the liveblog! I'll be posting updates as we get them, as well as a bit of background and analysis on the races as we wait for results. Washington is one of only two states with an all-mail voting system and ballots only need to be postmarked on Election Day to be eligible. They can also be dropped off in a ballot box until 8pm local time. Counties will not start reporting results until that time, so those of us on the East Coast will be waiting until nearly midnight to hear what happens.


Washington is poised to become one of the most socially liberal states in the nation as it appears likely to approve both Initiative 508, the legalization of marijuana, and Referendum 74, the legalization of same-sex marriage. Voters already approved an "everything but marriage" bill by a six-point margin in 2009, making Washington the first state nationwide to affirm LGBT rights at the ballot box. 

Washington has been reliably blue in the Electoral College since 1988 and is expected to remain that way this election cycle. Incumbent Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell is also expected to coast to reelection over a weak Republican challenger, State Senator Michael Baumgartner.

The most competitive races in Washington will be fought at the gubernatorial and the congressional level.

Representative Jay Inslee (D) and Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) are locked in a tight contest for governor. Washington is known for tight gubernatorial races; in 2004, the state suffered through three recounts before Christine Gregoire was finally declared governor at the end of December by 129 votes.

In the newly redrawn 1st Congressional District, John Koster is hoping to prevail in his third attempt at a congressional seat against another candidate with a failed congressional campaign under their belt, Democrat and former Microsoft exec Suzan Delbene. The race is too close to call, with Koster touting his public-sector experience and Delbene using her financial edge to air near-constant television ads.

Other ballot questions facing Washington voters include a charter schools proposal, an initiative by anti-tax activist Tim Eyman to require a supermajority for tax increases in the state legislature, and constitutional amendments over university spending and construction projects.