Votes remain to be counted, here and across the country. But we know most of the story in our state.
Democrats picked up a Congressional seat and gained numbers in the Legislature. The carbon tax and local food taxes won’t happen, not yet (but the carbon debate will continue). Blue got bluer; red became more red. That trend in our state mirrored the national returns.
Urban areas are the strength of the party. Rural areas seem as red and Republican than ever, perhaps moreso. “All states think they are America in microcosm,” observes pollster Stuart Elway, “but Washington really is.” The inroads Democrats made nationally in suburban districts, which turned from red to blue, was mirrored here too. Western Washington swing districts turned in numerous close races where Democrats appear to be winning Republican seats. Still, the urban-rural divide appeared to be wider than ever, locally and nationally. That presents a leadership and governing challenge.
Interestingly, voter turnout in metro Seattle ranks among the top in the nation among urban centers in midterm elections.
Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat also sees a deepening divide,
A liberal blue wave did roll in for Tuesday elections, at least in the suburbs. But a conservative red wave simultaneously coursed through the rural areas. As hard as it may be to imagine, Tuesday’s election mostly showed that our yawning urban-versus-rural divide is only getting wider.
Democrats easily won back control of the U.S. House, and also solidified commanding control over the Washington state Legislature. This blue wave, fueled by anger at President Donald Trump, powerfully lifted Democrats in districts anywhere near a suburb – or, say, within 30 miles of a Whole Foods store…
But out in the hinterlands, away from the Whole Foods salad bar lines, a smaller but still potent red wave is swamping Democrats by huge margins. In a marquee race for Congress, GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who represents Spokane plus the nine rural counties around it, easily won re-election in what was supposed to be a tight race with Democrat Lisa Brown.
The divide is important; bridging it, moreso. Finding bipartisan (purple?) solutions to the challenging of increasing economic opportunity in all corners of our state requires an appreciation of the unique challenges facing rural communities. Significantly, that’s an issue being discussed this week at the Rural Jobs Summit put together by the Association of Washington Business.
Crosscut cites legislators saying they’re aware of the divisions and will work together.
House Minority Leader JT Wilcox, R-Yelm, told Crosscut that he had braced himself for the loss of seats. “We will continue to bring up issues that are less ideological and more practical,” he said, before expressing concern that Seattle legislators would dominate the next two years of the legislature…
Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, dismissed such concerns. “There are exactly two legislative districts in Seattle, and five that are partly in Seattle,” he said. “The vast majority of the districts are outside of Seattle. … We have to listen to people from all over the state.”
We all do.