Is it really all about the elbow grease?

Photo courtesy of the Seattle Times

Wow. So that’s what a big election looks like, eh? Needless to say there were some raised eyebrows round about 8:15 as the first results came charging out of laptops around the city. The big surprise? That after the first round of vote counts, incumbent Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels was not in first place, was not in second place, but was in third place, raising the specter of a primary round knockout.

In first place is Mike McGinn, the almost archetypally scrappy candidate, and right away, here’s the emerging storyline: the underfunded candidate inspires young people, young people put their time and energy into the underfunded candidate, underfunded candidate comes out on top.

It’s a pretty compelling story – almost like a Hollywood ending… except that it’s not over, nor is it entirely clear that it will be enough to get him through the primary, much less the general.

The key voting group that has yet to be heard from is young voters. Young voters vote late, and in this round they’re split between McGinn and second place finisher Joe Mallahan. With the race being so close – just 970 votes separate McGinn and Nickels – the youth vote could be the deciding factor.

And regardless of all else, there is a clear lesson to be drawn here: person to person voter contact trumps cash. The Bus has always been a firm believer in people power, and to see its immediate effects, regardless of the eventual outcome, is pretty amazing.


8 Responses to “Is it really all about the elbow grease?”

  1. 1 Volly Ball
    August 19, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Volunteer power! Go Mike!

  2. 2 Huh?
    August 19, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    I guess I think your leaving out that Nickel’s polls best among voters age 18-34….by far. Followed by McGinn then Mallahan. Where is the polling that says McGinn is the favorite?

  3. 3 Youth you say
    August 19, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    None of the people in that photo seem all that young….by youth do you mean 30 year old hippies?

  4. 4 washingtonbus
    August 19, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    The Survey USA poll (see below) has Nickels taking 26% of the overall vote, with the challengers at 21% and 22% respectively. Considering the earlier, and more likely older, group broke much more heavily in favor the challengers than expected, it’s not unreasonable to see the later, and more likely younger, group doing the same. Younger voters are the other shoe that’s about to drop.

    Here’s the Survey USA poll:


  5. 5 washingtonbus
    August 19, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    And the bigger story is still this: a very underfunded campaign got a huge response, it’s a de-coupling of the funding/results conundrum that we often see. Because the Bus is volunteer-powered and all about grassroots voter contact, we think, without commenting on the outcome itself, that that’s a pretty big deal!

  6. 6 Saofend
    August 19, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    For real, that poll was WAY off. I’d heard that Team Nickels was doing a lot of phoning, and that might be the only thing that keeps Nickels in striking range. Still though, I keep reading about McGinn’s magic phones, so maybe it all cancels out.

  7. 7 washingtonbus
    August 19, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    We’ll see – in our experience, the phone lists of young people have a high percentage of wrong/disconnected numbers. Our guess is that the phone banks will have a larger impact on older voters than younger ones, but it’s entirely possible that either campaign could have access to a more accurate database. In any case – yes, lots of phone banks were held!

  8. 8 washingtonbus
    August 19, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    And the latest update seems to back up the M-Break Theory: Mallahan hops to the lead, McGinn stumbles but stays close behind, and Nickels falls a touch back. Reputable politicos are confident that today’s results are a good indication of where the final vote will end up. If that’s the case, then we’ve got a major upset on our hands.

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