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November 3, 2010 at 9:15 AM

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Barreto predicts Murray's lead will stand

Posted by Jim Brunner

Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray ended Tuesday night with a 14,005-vote lead over Republican Dino Rossi.

Will her lead hold up? UW Political Science Professor Matt Barreto thinks so.

Barreto and graduate student Loren Collingwood, who run The Washington Poll, ran some calculations last night to predict where the Senate race is headed.

Assuming the state's 66 percent turnout estimate is correct - and barring a pro-Rossi surge in later votes - they estimate Murray will wind up winning with 51.2 percent of the vote, to Rossi's 48.8 percent. (Read their full analysis here.)

That would be largely on Murray's strength in King County, where she was winning 62 percent of the vote to Rossi's 38 percent. See county breakdown at the Secretary of State's web site.

Murray campaign manager Jeff Bjornstad also predicted King County will be the deciding factor. In a memo to reporters last night, he suggested the 350,000 or so votes remaining in King County will prove decisive.

"Based on the Tuesday night count, it is very likely the remaining outstanding King County ballots will continue to overwhelmingly favor Murray. That - coupled with her lead in other counties - will only increase her statewide vote total," Bjornstad wrote.

New York Times polling guru Nate Silver also predicts Murray will win by 1.5 percent.

Still, Rossi campaign manager Pat Shortridge contended Rossi will turn this around in the coming days. In an election night memo to reporters, Shortridge argued King County will not account for as much of the remaining vote total as others are suggesting.

"Again, we will know more over the next several days as ballots continue to come in and counties continue to count. We are confident that the margins we are seeing throughout Washington State, combined with the state legislative victories, will put Dino Rossi ahead by an overwhelming margin," Shortridge wrote.

We'll get a better sense about where the race is truly headed this afternoon, when additional vote counts will be released.

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Jim Brunner
Covers politics.

Keith Ervin
Covers the Eastside.

Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Covers local government.

Mike Lindblom
Covers transportation.

Kyung Song
Covers politics and regional issues from Washington, D.C.

Lynn Thompson
Covers Seattle City Hall.

Bob Young
Covers King County and urban affairs.