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Patty Murray Gets Less than 50% in Washington State's Jungle Primary

11:19 AM, Aug 18, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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In Washington state's open "jungle primary," the top two vote getters of either party advance to the general election. In the Senate primary, with 60 percent of precincts reporting, incumbent Democrat Patty Murray has 46 percent of the vote. This is pretty bad news for the Democrats. Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics explains why:

Washington State employed a "blanket primary" from 1935 through 2002, and again starting in 2008, which allows all candidates to run on the same ballot. Voters, regardless of party affiliation, can choose any candidate, and the top two candidates advance to the general election.

And, it turns out, these primary elections end up looking an awful lot like the November elections. I gathered the results for congressional and senate primaries in recent years where Washington used the blanket primary system (1992-2002 and 2008). This gave me a nice dataset of 65 elections. I looked at the total Democratic vote cast in the primaries, and compared it to the total Democratic vote in the general election.

On average, the Democratic candidate improved his or her share of the vote by only 1.5 points from the fall election. [...]

As a general rule, when the Democratic share of the vote rises above 52 percent, the Democratic nominee can feel pretty safe that he or she will win. When it falls below 46 percent, the Republican will almost certainly win.

Read Trende's whole piece here.

Republican nominee Dino Rossi got 34 percent and his main Republican opponent Clint Didier got 12 percent, so if you add Didier's votes to Rossi's, Rossi is neck-and-neck with Murray. Jim Geraghty points out that overall Republican candidates are getting more votes than Democratic candidates: "Republicans had 474,893 votes; Democrats had 463,276, and that’s including the 4,398 votes for 'Mike the Mover' and 3,363 for "goodspaceguy.'" This is certainly a race to watch the next two and a half months.

See Fred Barnes on Dino Rossi here.

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