8th District on track to flip

Washington’s 8th Congressional District appears on track to flip from Republican to Democratic control for the first time in the district’s history. However, the rural and urban divide within a polarized electorate continues nationwide and across Washington state.

Democratic candidate Dr. Kim Schrier emerged with a wide lead in King County following the first drop of result, but she trails in the other four counties that make up the district. Overall, she holds a 6-point edge over Rossi, given her performance and the population of the King County portion. However, voters across the Cascades in Central Washington clearly favored Rossi.

In Southwest Washington’s 3rd congressional district, Democratic challenger Carolyn Long performed well in the more urban Clark County portion of the district, but Republican incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler leads in the seven other counties that make up the district and will likely hold onto her seat. Though Vancouver, Clark County, sits just across the bridge from the urban center of Portland, Oregon, the neighboring Washington counties of Klickitat, Skamania, and Cowlitz are rural with an electorate that feels economically left behind.

In Eastern Washington’s 5th district, incumbent Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who has aligned herself with President Trump on most issues, holds a safe, 10 point lead over Democratic challenger Lisa Brown. The race has been viewed as her toughest re-election battle to date, given Brown’s name ID as a former state lawmaker and chancellor of WSU Spokane. Though the race is much closer in Spokane and Whitman — both areas with a growing population of Democratic leaning voters — McMorris Rodgers holds overwhelming, double-digit leads in the more rural northeast and southeast portions of the district.

A resounding 'no'

With the exception of King and Jefferson counties, Washington voters gave a resounding "no" to taxes, rejecting the first of its kind carbon fee initiative and approving the measure on affordable groceries.

Supporters of I-1631 on carbon have not yet conceded, but the measure trails by approximately 13 points statewide. That’s despite the initiative passing by 15 points, with not all votes counted in King County. However, it trails by 23 points neighboring Snohomish and 27 points in Pierce County. Based on the results, voters clearly expressed concern about the impact to gas prices and utilities bills, if the measure passed.

The No campaign, fueled by more than $30 million from big oil and gas, raised concern about not only rising prices but the lack of an exact plan for how the revenue from a carbon fee would be used.

Widening majority

State Democrats are on track to widen their majorities in both the state Senate and House, but by a smaller number of seats than they anticipated.

Democratic candidates in legislative races over-performed during the August primary, but Tuesday night Republican candidates tightened the margins in a number of the swing districts.

However, in the battleground 30th District, Republican incumbent Mark Miloscia appears on track to lose his seat to Democratic challenger Claire Wilson.

The Democratic candidate in the 26th Legislative District, Emily Randall, currently leads her race. However, it’s too close to call.

King County Republican Joe Fain, facing an allegation of sexual assault, is barely holding onto his seat heading into the next results drop. His Democratic challenger, Mona Das, trails him by fewer than 300 votes.

In the competitive 5th District House races, encompassing the Issaquah portion of the 8th District, both Democratic candidates currently hold the lead.

Year of the woman

2018 is the new year of the woman. Female candidates made gains and set new records at the national, state, and local level.

Three of Washington’s big congressional races featured only female candidates — the 3rd District, 5th District and U.S. senate race.

Additionally, state legislative races saw a significant surge in first time female candidates, particularly on the Democratic side. If current leads hold, then Olympia will see an increased number of women in elected office at the state legislative level.

RELATED: Record year for women running for office

A whopping 87 female candidates in Washington advanced to the November general following the August primary, according to the Center for Women in American Politics.

Washington currently ranks fifth nationwide for the female representation in the state Legislature, but we could improve upon that number once 2018 results are finalized.

Elevated positions

With Democrats taking back control of the U.S. House, Washington’s senior members of Congress could be elevated to chairmanships and plum assignments in Congress.

Representative Adam Smith currently serves as the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, meaning he is next in line to take over as chair of the powerful committee.

A spokesman says he most certainly will run for the position, with a focus on oversight of the President and the Pentagon budget, as well as prioritizing an inclusive military, military readiness and "a responsible approach to the nuclear weapons enterprise."

"Congress needs to live up to its constitutional role as an institution that performs oversight and holds President Trump accountable to the people," Smith said in a statement. "This is true on nearly every issue, from corruption, fraud, waste, and abuse, to the politicization of the military, to his mismanagement of disaster response, to the lack of a consistent policy concerning civilian casualties, to his policies on Russia, and more."

Additionally, Congressman Rick Larsen, D-Washington, who serves on the transportation committee has his sights set on chairing the aviation subcommittee. Currently, he serves as ranking member of the subcommittee.

Washington Representatives Suzan DelBene and Denny Heck both announced candidacies to chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. That's the campaign arm of House Democrats focused on recruiting candidates, fundraising and strategizing competitive races.