I’ve previously posted on my research showing a very high correlation between the results in Washington State’s “top two” primary and the results in the general election. The system makes the “primary” more like the first round of the general election in a traditional runoff election system. Washington has a history of very high primary turnout–this year it was 40.63 percent–and because of the previous use of the “blanket primary,” voting for members of both parties in the primary was common. Assuming this correlation holds up this year, my analysis points to an extremely bad November for Democrats.
I decided to compare the primary vote in 2008 with the results this year. (I have excluded the very blue 7th district from my analysis because this year no Republican bothered to run, and I have calculated numbers based on total votes/percentages cast for members of only the two major parties.) In the 2008 primary, of all the votes for the two major parties for congressional candidates, 55.54 percent were cast for a Democrat and 44.46 percent were cast for a Republican. In the 2008 November congressional election, 55.87 percent voted for a Democrat and 44.13 percent voted for a Republican. A remarkably high level of correlation. Note: turn out in the 2008 primary was 42.60 percent, very similar to 2010 primary turnout of 40.63 percent.
In this year’s primary of all the votes cast for the two major parties for Congress, only 45.90 percent voted for a Democrat, while a robust 54.10 percent voted for a Republican. A massive ten-point drop in Democratic votes compared to the last election.
This ten-point slide in the Washington primary closely mirrors what we have seen in recent polling. In 2008, in Gallup’s last poll before the general election, Democrats held a huge 15-point lead on the generic ballot among registered votes–Democrats 54 percent, Republicans 39 percent. Gallup’s most recent generic ballot poll had it Democrats 44 percent, Republicans 47 percent–a ten-point drop since the end of October 2008. If the predictive pattern of the primary holds up in Washington State, and is reflective of what is happening nationwide, it would indicate a huge wave election for Republicans this November.
Note on the Analysis: Not only does history indicate the congressional primary votes in Washington tend to closely match the general election there, common sense says this should be the case. Turnout out for the general election in 2006 was 64.55 percent, which was a high turnout year for non-presidential elections. I suspect turnout this year in Washington to be about 60%. Assuming the vast majority of people who bothered to vote in the primary will turnout again for the general, they will make up two-thirds of the general election vote. Having already voted a certain way in August, it seems (barring some major change) most people would tend to vote the same way less than three months later.
You can find my analysis of the Washington State race based on the same research here.