Washington state was the originator of the top-two primary system, variants of which are also the law now in California and Louisiana. In the past, Washington primary results, adding up the totals for candidates of both parties, have been pretty good indicators of the general election results, notably in 1994; but not always and not always reliably.

In any case, the Washington results, at least those available as I write, are worthy of some attention. What they seem to show is a falloff in Democratic percentages in most districts, to varying extents — but not necessarily so great as to imperil the seats that the six Democrats currently hold in Washington’s 10 congressional districts. The following table shows the percentage of total votes won by Democratic candidates (sometimes more than one in a district) and the percentage of the votes in each district for President Obama in 2012.

District in Washington state Votes cast for Dems in 2014 primary Support for Obama in 2012 general election
First 52% 54%
Second 57% 59%
Third 39% 48%
Fourth 18% 38%
Fifth 29% 44%
Sixth 59% 56%
Seventh 76% 49%
Eighth 37% 50%
Ninth 69% 68%
Tenth 51% 56%


What these seem to indicate is easy re-election for Republicans Jaime Herrera Beutler (3rd District) and Dave Reichert (8th), in districts that were marginal in 2012 and which Democrats have targeted, as well as easy re-election for Cathy McMorris Rogers (5th) and Republican Clint Didier (4th) in the eastern Washington districts, which have been solidly Republican since 1994. The low Democratic turnout in the 4th District may be attributed to the retirement of incumbent Doc Hastings in a safely Republican district, which meant that the real contest for the seat was among Republicans.

The percentage for Democrats in the Puget Sound districts WA-1 and WA-10 suggests these might be seriously contested, but Republican candidates finished behind in both districts, with totals of 45 percent in WA-1 and 41 percent in WA-10. It looks like there will be a significant number of seriously contested seats this cycle in California (which with its incumbent protection districting plan saw only one partisan turnover in five elections in 53 districts in 2002-2010), but not so much in Washington.