So if you thought that Republicans only play games with vote counting when Democrats are involved, think again. The Washington State GOP put out an announcement on its website that McCain had won its state caucus after only counting 87% of the vote. Here is a quote from the announcement:
Tukwila, WA…Washington State Republican Party Chairman announced tonight that Senator John McCain has won the 2008 Republican precinct caucuses in Washington State. With 87.2 percent of precincts reporting statewide, Sen. McCain leads the GOP field with 25.5 % of delegates. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee took 23.7 %, Texas Congressman Ron Paul 20.6 %, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won 16.5 %. Approximately 12.7 % of delegates reported their preference as “uncommitted”, while another 1.1% reported their preference as “other.”
Now, we can see why media outlets make such announcements. They use exit polls which supposedly gives them a way to gauge how the elections results will look. They are also in the news business and so there are institutional pressures on them to get such information out to the public as soon as they can.
Political parties, however, are under no such pressure, and to our knowledge, don't run exit polls. So why would the Chair of the Washington State GOP jump the gun on this and declare the winner on only part of the returns?
Well, here's our take on it. McCain is likely to be nominee and the Washington State GOP Chair knows that, and, for that matter, may be backing McCain. Up until the Washington announcement McCain was having a bad night. He had been trounced in Kansas and was losing the Louisiana primary. Then, lo and behold. a ray of light comes beaming out of the west and the national media is told that McCain didn't lose all three Saturday events, he just lost two of them, and interestingly, the one he supposedly won was north of the Mason-Dixon line.
That last point is very important. McCain's people are portraying Huckabee as only having appeal in states with large blocks of evangelical Christians, like Iowa and Kansas, or in southern and border states like Georgia, Louisiana, and West Virginia. A loss in Washington state would have hurt that particular spin.
Now, all of this may just be partisan speculation on our part. On Monday, February 11, 2008, the Washington state GOP will release the total returns, and it may very well be that McCain will be the legitimate winner. The problem is, of course, that when it comes to counting votes, you just can't trust the GOP, even when it is dealing with one of its own.