Sawant is fighting to get this seat back.
Sawant is fighting to get this seat back. Lester Black
Wednesday afternoon’s ballot drop has improved vote totals for nearly all of Seattle’s progressive candidates, but no candidates swapped positions, and Council Member Kshama Sawant remains over eight percentage points behind Amazon-approved District 3 candidate Egan Orion. The council’s closest race in Downtown’s District 7 has narrowed, with only 20 votes separating the Amazon-approved candidate and labor’s candidate.

These late returns have the ability to shake up nearly all of the races in this year’s election. According to King County elections, 49.9% of all ballots collected so far were returned to ballot drop boxes on Tuesday. That means Tuesday night’s vote totals only showed roughly half of all votes cast—giving progressive candidates some reason to hope these late ballot drops will give them the votes they need to catch up.

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However, Wednesday’s update didn’t give progressives a whole lot to cheer about.

Sawant currently has 45.78% of the vote share, up from 45.61% on election night. Wednesday’s vote drop gave Sawant 1,625 new votes while Orion picked up 1,836.

Amazon-approved candidate Jim Pugel’s lead over labor-backed Andrew Lewis in District 7 has diminished from 200 votes on Tuesday night to just 20 votes after this afternoon's update. Pugel now holds 49.83% of the vote to Lewis's 49.73%.

District 1 Council Member Lisa Herbold expanded her lead to 51.65%, and Tammy Morales’s lead in District 2 grew to 55.84%. In District 4, socialist Shaun Scott inched closer to Alex Pedersen, but the socialist is still over 15 percentage points behind the NIMBY. Council Member Debora Juarez looks like she will easily be reelected with her vote share sitting at 57.59%. Dan Strauss in District 6 increased his lead over Heidi Wills and now has 52.56% of the vote.

Wednesday’s ballot drop doesn’t change my analysis from late last night: Amazon and the rest of the big business community were unable to buy themselves a fiscally conservative majority on the council.

Here are the current vote totals:

District 1

Lisa Herbold 51.65%
Phillip Tavel 48.00%

District 2
Tammy Morales 55.84%
Mark Solomon 43.65%

District 3
Egan Orion 53.83%
Kshama Sawant 45.78%

District 4
Alex Pedersen 57.43%
Shaun Scott 42.25%

District 5
Debora Juarez 57.59%
Ann Sattler 42.00%

District 6
Dan Strauss 52.56%
Heidi Wills 46.92%

District 7
Jim Pugel 49.83%
Andrew Lewis 49.73%

Results from statewide ballot measures are still looking tragic. Referendum 88, which would legalize affirmative action, is failing with 48.59% of the vote. And it looks like Initiative 976, which limits car tabs to $30 and destroys transportation funding, will pass. I-976 currently has 55.07% of the vote.

In other races: King County Council Member Jeanne Kohl-Welles will clearly be reelected (she currently has 73.85%) and it looks like Girmay Zahilay will unseat County Council Member Larry Gossett. Zahilay currently has 56.75% of the vote. Sam Cho is winning his bid for Port Commissioner, with 57.15%, and Fred Felleman will be reelected—he currently has 69.65% of the vote.

Is it time to count Sawant out? It doesn’t look great for Sawant supporters, but we can't write her off yet. King County Elections has counted 35,291 returned ballots from District 3 as of today, but the county has only reported 23,929 votes so far. That means there’s 11,362 votes to be counted—and only 1,925 separate Sawant from Orion.

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In 2013, Sawant was able to overcome a seven point vote deficit when she beat Richard Conlin for her citywide seat on the council. On election night in 2013, Sawant only had 46 percent of the vote, but the late returns broke for her and she ended up winning.

This year’s vote is different for a number of reasons—in 2013, Sawant was running for a citywide seat during a mayoral election, while this year Sawant is running for a district seat and outside a mayoral election. The district level might help Sawant earn a larger share of votes in these late ballots—her popularity might be more concentrated on Capitol Hill compared to citywide. But she also may be hurt by running outside of a mayoral election. In 2013, outsider mayoral candidate Mike McGinn was running for election and mobilizing thousands of voters in the process, many of whom were likely Sawant voters as well. Sawant doesn’t have the benefit this year of an outsider mayoral candidate on the ballot running their own get out the vote campaigns.

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