Republicans are inching ever-closer to taking control of the state Senate, but appear to simply not have the push to take hold of the state House, according to current vote tallies across the state.
The graphic above is a snapshot of a spreadsheet I put together this morning (and into this afternoon) that shows the makeup of the 2010 Legislature and what it will look like in 2011.
As of 1:40 p.m. today, Republicans were basically one more seat away from taking the Senate. That could happen as at least two Democratically-held seats are threatened with flipping to the GOP.
In the House, Republicans needed 13 and don’t have even half that, according to my analysis.
What does it mean for us in Whatcom County?
Well, without a Republican majority in the House, our two new state representatives, Jason Overstreet and Vincent Buys (we’re assuming that Buys will pull out a victory with this post) will be freshman legislators in the minority.
If the state Senate doesn’t end up going GOP, state Rep. Doug Ericksen, now senator-elect for the 42nd District, will be a freshman legislator in the other chamber.
Western Washington University political science professor Todd Donovan said that the loss of Rep. Kelli Linville and Sen. Dale Brandland, and a switch by Ericksen to the state Senate, won’t necessarily be debilitating for our 42nd delegation.
“Everyone has to sort of rebuild the relationships with whose down there,” he said. “But the personal connections that county executive or mayor would have with somebody who writes the budget, those are gone.
“If the Republicans are in the majority, though, your ability to serve the constituents are much greater than if you’re in the minority,” Donovan said.
I spoke with Ericksen this afternoon about his thoughts on the changing landscape of the 42nd district in Olympia. How will a lack veteran legislators affect this area’s considerable clout?
“Any time you lose a long-time member you do lose some impact in certain ways,” Ericksen said. “There’s an impact, but I think in a new legislature and new environment, that impact won’t be significant.”
Ericksen said that one major aspect, also, is the sheer amount of turnover in both parties this election. Not only will there be new Republicans heading to the capital, there are new Democratic faces replacing retiring politicos.
And, now that voters have reinstituted the two-thirds majority requirement for any new tax increase, the mindset of the Legislature overall will be different with closer majorities for both caucuses.
“You can’t peel off a few legislators to pass a tax increase in the budget,” he said of the change.
Back to the chart:
The look was done with the common theory in mind that conservative voters tend to trend upward with their votes closer to Election Day. It’s historically the theme in Whatcom County, but it is not simply a local phenomenon.
Now, one other thought I’ve had this election is, that, while historically since we went all-mail balloting conservatives turn their ballots in later — there is a chance it may not happen this time.
My working theory on that is because conservative voters were so motivated and energized this time around that they actually got their ballots in quickly because they were excited for their version of “change” to take place, as it were. If this is the case, then the voting trends likely would simply remain level and not much new will come of it.
All in all, the voting doesn’t seem likely to go to the way of Democrats who are behind by perhaps a small margin. In other places, like here, Rep. Kelli Linville isn’t even behind by just a small margin, but actually quite a healthy one for Republican challenger Vincent Buys versus an incumbent.
But we shall see.