Aug 3, 2022 - Politics

Democrats declare "no red wave" in legislative swing districts

Illustration of an "I Voted" sticker as a swing.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Democrats in Washington state celebrated Tuesday night as a predicted red wave seemed unlikely to crest in many legislative swing districts.

Yes, but: A top Republican warned that plenty of ballots remain uncounted, which could alter the results in the days ahead.

Why it matters: Democrats made significant gains four years ago, particularly in the King County suburbs.

  • Tuesday's primary results provide clues as to whether Democrats are still capturing suburban voters’ hearts and minds, or the party’s 2018 gains were just a blip.

By the numbers: In the 47th Legislative District, which a Democratic political consultant recently told Axios was "a bellwether for the rest of the country," two Democratic candidates collected a combined 55% of the vote for an open state Senate seat.

  • Tina Podlodowski, chair of the Washington State Democrats, called that excellent news heading into November, when one of those candidates will face Republican Bill Boyce, who had less than 45% on primary election night.
  • Meanwhile, in one of the costliest and hardest fought races of the year, state Sen. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton, won 53.3% of the first ballot count, posting an 11-point lead over state Rep. Jesse Young, a Republican seeking to unseat her.

What they’re saying: "I think that we're doing great across the board," Podlodowski told Axios Tuesday night. "It's really clear there is no red wave at all in Washington state."

The other side: Democrats struggled in Whatcom County's 42nd Legislative District, where, in three separate races, they failed to crack 50% of the vote.

  • J.T. Wilcox, the state House Republican leader, said it's too early for Democrats to declare widespread victory in legislative swing districts.
  • It's not uncommon for results to shift as more votes are counted days after the election, he noted.
  • "I don't think there's much of a signal right now," Wilcox told Axios on Tuesday.

Context: Even if Republicans do pick up a few seats in Washington's Legislature, it will be difficult for them to shift the balance of power in Olympia.

  • Democrats hold a 57-41 majority in the state House and a 28-21 majority in the state Senate. (That figure counts one Democratic senator who caucuses with the GOP as a Republican.)

What's next: Ballots will continue to be counted, with new results posting daily.

  • The top two candidates in each race — regardless of party affiliation — will advance to the Nov. 8 general election.

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