John Laird: Red-faced Rove, red-leaning counties, and rising boats

By John Laird, Columbian Editorial Page Editor

Published:

 

Notes, quotes and anecdotes while wondering if Karl Rove has called Ohio yet:

Speaking of Karl Rove — Here's some uplifting news for the disconsolate Republican strategist. Obama vs. Romney is still too close to call in one of America's most beloved bottomlands. Right here in little ol' Clark County, the presidential race remains undecided. As of Friday afternoon, President Obama led Mitt Romney by only about one-tenth of a percentage point: 91,770 votes to 91,524 votes, respectively.

That might seem surprising in our supposedly red community, but if Obama holds on, it will mark the second time he's carried Clark County, which favored Obama by six percentage points in 2008. Of course, none of this matters. Washington will vote for Obama in the Electoral College. Those 91,000-plus local votes for Romney are as useless as the 57 Clark County votes for Peta Lindsay of the Party of Socialism and Liberation.

Then again, forget Obama — Actually, Clark County really is red, and here's proof: Same-sex marriage passed statewide with 53.3 percent approval, but here it was rejected by 52.6 percent. Marijuana use was approved statewide by 53.3 percent but here it was opposed by 50.4 percent.

More voters here supported two-thirds approval of tax increases (70.4 percent) than statewide (64.2). Same thing with charter schools, approved by 52.2 percent here, 50.7 statewide.

Cascade Curtain remains as rigid as ever — What two things do the newly elected governor, attorney general, lieutenant governor, state auditor and state insurance commissioner have in common?

(1) All are Democrats.

(2) All five won without any of them carrying a single county in the eastern half of the state.

One Portland view of Loot Rail Crime Train Being Shoved Down Our Throats (LRCTBSDOT) — Don't expect Portland's support of light rail on the Columbia River Crossing to wither in the near future. Willamette Week describes Portland Mayor-elect "Choo-Choo" Charlie Hales, who served on the City Council in the 1990s: "His most noted work in City Hall included support for light rail and the development of the streetcar."

I guess Choo-Choo won't be appearing as keynote speaker before the Hounds of Whinerville anytime soon.

No gloating, Democrats — Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat points out that, although Democrats "easily won the U.S. Senate race, all three open congressional seats and eight of nine statewide elected offices, including the governorship for the eighth consecutive time going back to 1984," there are two rays of hope for Republicans. By 14 percentage points, exit-poll respondents said "the big problem with government is that it does too much." And regarding the two-thirds approval for tax increases, initiative kingpin Tim Eyman had his "most decisive win ever," winning all 39 counties in a landslide.

Still waiting for that rising economic tide to lift all boats? — Sorry, but income inequality is getting worse in our state. The Washington State Budget & Policy Center recently released these statistics:

From the late 1990s to the mid-2000s, the state's richest 20 percent averaged gains of $15,000, while in that same approximate decade, low-income folks showed "no discernible growth in household income."

Let's broaden the view to include the late 1970s to the mid-2000s. During those 30 or so years, Washington's richest 20 percent (making more than $175,000 a year) averaged income gains of $70,000 (66.6 percent) while the bottom 20 percent (averaging $25,000 annually) increased their income by only $5,000 (25 percent).

The rich are getting richer, yes, indeed. But rather than rising, folks in the low-income boats are bailing frantically.

Paradise for Republicans — There's no doubting the redness of King County, Texas. This godforsaken outpost 100 miles east of Lubbock "leaned" Romney, with 139 votes to just five votes for the president. CNN says this 3.4 percent is Obama's worst showing in any county in the United States.