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Trail Mix - 8.16.12 

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Too Sunny to Vote?

As of primary election night last week, turnout was looking pretty grim - 27 percent statewide was being reported. Now, a week later, the turnout is pegged at more like 37 percent; election officials expect it will hit around 40 percent once every ballot is counted.

Turns out, that’s not out of the ordinary for primaries in Washington State. In 2008, the primary turnout was 42 percent; in 2000 it was 40 percent. It has averaged about 43 percent since 1988, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Political insiders want to think the primary is indicative of what will happen in the fall, but the truth is turnout will more than double. Washington had an 85 percent turnout in the 2008 general election. So Jay Inslee scored an upset over Rob McKenna in the primary? It’s hard to argue that proves much of anything.

Maybe the best way to think of it is as a poll - a publicly funded look at what less than half of the voters are thinking in the middle of summer.

Strategery-Free Veeps

In the aftermath of Mitt Romney choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate, the backstory emerged that it was a decision made in Mitt’s gut. Many people thought Florida Sen. Marco Rubio would be a better strategic pick, as he would help win Florida and bring some Latinos into the fold.

But if you look back, the GOP is not big on strategic vice presidential picks. John McCain chose Sarah Palin, while George W. Bush chose Dick Cheney, whose states (Alaska and Wyoming) boast a combined six electoral votes. That’s 23 less than Florida.

Another trend is that rather than choose vice presidential picks who reach out to independents, the last three GOP veeps have been chosen to bolster existing conservative votes. Paul Ryan, architect of the House of Representatives’ fiscal blueprint, has been widely viewed as a pick that will help Romney excite the base, even though Ryan’s probably too ideological to attract many undecided voters.

So maybe that’s their strategy Ć¢euro;” to focus on getting all their people to the polls and worry less about finding new voters.

Home Field Advantage?

So will Paul Ryan help Romney win Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes? That’s the hope, but Nate Silver of the influential polling blog fivethirtyeight.com, says to expect about a 2 percent home-state bump, based on the averages going back to 1920. He believes Romney’s chances have improved in Wisconsin by adding Ryan, but he still pegs that at just a 20 percent chance of winning in the land of the cheese.

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