Tomorrow marks the deadline for Seattleites to turn in their ballots for the 2017 primary elections. We'll keep you posted through the night as King County releases its first batch of returns. In the mean time, I've asked Stranger staffers to make predictions for two of the most competitive races: Mayor and City Council Position 8. (Some just offered a guess for mayor.) I'll start...
For City Council Position 8, Teresa Mosqueda and Sara Nelson move through the primaries. Mosqueda picks up the most votes with strong support from local Democratic groups and labor unions. North Seattle hands Nelson the second slot. Many of Jon Grant's grassroots supporters turn out, earning him third place, but not enough to place him on the general election ballot.
In the mayor's race, Jenny Durkan and Nikkita Oliver get through. Durkan wins enough Murray voters to comfortably secure her spot on the November ballot. Oliver's energetic campaign brings out enough young people and first-time voters to launch her above Mike McGinn, Jessyn Farrell, Cary Moon and Bob Hasegawa (in that order).
After Trump, I'm taking a break from believing any predictions, polls, or talk about "momentum." So don't believe a word of this. But there are a few things that I think we know for sure. 1) Turnout in Seattle mayoral primaries is traditionally very low. 2) All the current data suggests this mayoral primary is headed in a similar, low-turnout direction. 3) It's the middle of summer, so a lot of people are now focused on figuring out how to wring every bit out of these hot days, while simultaneously trying to figure out how to stay cool. In the meantime there are 21 fucking candidates for mayor. I believe in my fellow citizens! But I also believe a lot of them will be confused and overwhelmed by this situation.
Now, "serious" people are telling Seattle voters that only six of the 21 mayoral wannabes are actually "serious" candidates. But I am serious when I tell you that supposedly non-serious candidate Greg "Who?" Hamilton has A LOT of signs around town—so, who knows. People make voting decisions based on strange things, especially when they're overwhelmed and confused and it's Seattle's version of super hot outside. ("I kinda like those signs from that guy who was in Hamilton!" is not an unimaginable voter rationale.)
On top of that: If old patterns hold, the people who actually turn out to vote in this election are not going to be mostly young and diverse. They are going to be mostly old and white. I see a ton of Nikkita Oliver signs on my bike ride into work (along the same ride I also saw this), and I know there's a ton of excitement about her campaign. Like everyone else, I'm unsure what that will translate into when it comes to votes. But if Oliver makes it through the primary it will represent a remarkable shattering of barriers, trends, and ingrained habits. And if the old barriers, trends, and ingrained habits hold? Then I think, to the extent that people's choices are influenced by anything rational and traceable, that this primary is likely to be influenced mostly by money (for mailers, ads, etc) and name recognition ("Oh, here's a name I recognize in this list of 21—I'll go with that person"). That would seem to favor Durkan and McGinn, but really, who the fuck knows. I talked to a guy today who had Cary Moon confused with Molly Moon—if there are enough people like him, maybe that'll help Cary "Molly" Moon.
Bottom line: the electorate is going to be relatively small to begin with, and it's going to be sliced more ways than usual because of the huge number of "serious" and "non-serious" candidates, so... If I'm really scraping my mind for one firm prediction, it is that second place won't be clear on election night. But again: don't believe predictions.
Position 8: I’m guessing Teresa Mosqueda and Jon Grant get through because they have the strongest ground game—tons of door knocking and phone banking on both sides—but Sara Nelson isn’t out of the question, either. Despite being one of the least inspiring candidates for local office since Sally Clark, money talks. An independent expenditure campaign backing Nelson has raised $121,000, largely from business interests. Her ads are all over my Instagram feed, her campaign is texting voters, and I’ve heard she has a mailer that says “Free beer.”
Mayor: I think this race and maybe Position 8 too may not be decided Tuesday. It could be too close to know for sure, particularly since the left-est voters tend to vote late. But, my prediction: Durkan and Oliver get through. Moon, McGinn, and Farrell split the urbanist/middle-of-the-Seattle-left vote. Alternatively, Durkan and McGinn, in which case we all learn the lesson that the only things that matter in politics (aside from money and inertia) are name recognition, basketball arenas, and men who agree on policy with women candidates but just really, really, really want another turn at being mayor PLEASE PLEASE GIVE IT TO ME PLEASE I WANT IT. If this is the case, I crawl under my desk until 2021.
Position 8: Although Jon Grant is a fierce housing advocate—😍 25 percent mandatory housing affordability 😍 —I’m expecting Teresa Mosqueda and Sara Nelson will make it through the primary. Seattle’s tired of white dudes, however well-intentioned, running the city. Nelson, with her backing from the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, will probably win over the (older, monied) Seattle moderates. Mosqueda will probably reel in votes from younger progressives who identify with her platform to better support marginalized residents across the city. Between the two, my fingers are (obviously) crossed for #TeamTeresa.
Mayor: I want Nikkita Oliver to make it through more than I want the balance on my credit card to disappear. The internet tells me I must declare ~ powerful intentions ~ into the universe to will them to come true. If that’s the case, OLIVER WILL MAKE IT THROUGH TOMORROW’S PRIMARY, DAMN IT. And, although I hate to admit it, I think Jenny “Tequila for All” Durkan will make it through tomorrow night, too.
Mayor: I think the world is awful, so I am going to say Durkan and McGinn. Because I don't think millennials vote.
Position 8: Mosqueda and Grant.
Mayor: I'm already disappointed. I think it will be Durkan and McGinn. Seattle won't get it together to become the radical, socialist paradise that it was truly meant to be.
Mayor: I think it'll be Durkan and Moon. Moon is the best candidate and Durkan has the most establishment backing.
Mayor: Cary Moon and Jessyn Farrell. I hear a lot of people talking about them. I'm sorry I don't have more exciting input. I actually need to vote when I get out of here.
Mayor: I don't have any fucking idea. If my Facebook feed is any reliable indicator, Nikkita Oliver will get 100 percent of the vote for every position for every office. That would be fine with me.
Mayor: Durkan and Oliver make it. That's where the buzz is. If it's those two, though, who knows how it'll end.
Position 8: Grant and Mosqueda.
I predict I will throw up from drinking. I also predict I will break into this Vicodin prescription before I get my wisdom teeth out in two weeks.