Story Summary

Election 2012

Stories from the 2012 General Election.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 6 updates


SEATTLE — Mayor Mike McGinn announced Tuesday that, with money now in hand, construction to replace the aging seawall in Elliott Bay will begin in September and continue for three years.

The replacement will be finished by 2016 when the Alaskan Way Viaduct is scheduled to come down.  The seawall project has been one of the highest priorities for the mayor since taking office.

“A really big ‘thank you’ to the voters of Seattle for their overwhelming support of this in the last (Nov. 6) election. And that means we’re ready to go,” McGinn said at a news conference.

The seawall “doesn`t just protect the property here,” he said. “These are essential transportation arteries, our utility corridors run here.  In fact, I think you saw in Hurricane Sandy, how an entire region could be hurt if you had damage right at the waterfront.”

But construction officials warned that tearing up the waterfront, especially while work is being done on the viaduct, will be messy.

“We still are begging and asking for your forbearance, your patience, your understanding,” Seattle Department of Transportation Director Peter Hahn said. “We will try to do our very best to mitigate everything that we can.”

Waterfront businesses argue their patience can go only so far.  They worry that there will construction will only be suspended for three months a year — June, July and August.

“Summer starts in June and ends at the end of September,” said Bob Donegan, president of Ivar’s Seafood Restaurants.

He said that an extra month of construction downtime is key.

Donegan said that “$70 million in sales happens down here on the waterfront.  This is a little economic engine.  We can`t afford to lose that in this economy.  And we think we can make it work if we aren`t disturbed in the summer.”

“How long is summer, right? That`s the question,” McGinn said when asked about the businesses’ concerns. “The more we have to shut down, the longer it might take to do it, and that might mean more seasons of construction.”

“The busy season is how we have always defined it,” Donegan said. “They have promised they would not disturb the busy season.”

“Somebody else is going to have to do the forensic examination of what the promise was,” McGinn said. “I know the voters want us to build a seawall and they expect us to spend their money wisely and effectively and that we need to be accommodating of the businesses, but we also need to recognize the need to complete the seawall.”

The president of Ivar’s, who strongly supported the seawall measure, said a big help would be if the city would provide some mitigation money to compensate waterfront businesses for the disruption and loss of income.  But, so far there are no funds in the budget for that.

The stage from Mitt Romney’s election gathering at the Boston Convention Center, left standing overnight following his electoral defeat. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times / Nov. 7, 2012)

Mitt Romney told his top donors Wednesday that his loss to President Obama was a disappointing result that neither he nor his top aides had expected, but said he believed his team ran a “superb” campaign with “no drama,” and attributed his rival’s victory to “the gifts” the administration had given to blacks, Hispanics and young voters during Obama’s  first term.

Obama, Romney argued, had been “very generous” to blacks, Hispanics and young voters. He cited as motivating factors to young voters the administration’s plan for partial forgiveness of college loan interest and the extension of health coverage for students on their parents’ insurance plans well into their 20s. Free contraception coverage under Obama’s healthcare plan, he added, gave an extra incentive to college-age women to back the president.

Romney argued that Obama’s healthcare plan’s promise of coverage “in perpetuity” was “highly motivational” to those voters making $25,000 to $35,000 who might not have been covered, as well as to African American and Hispanic voters. Pivoting to immigration, Romney said the Obama campaign’s efforts to paint him as “anti-immigrant” had been effective and that the administration’s promise to offer what he called “amnesty” to the children of illegal immigrants had helped turn out Hispanic voters in record numbers.

“The president’s campaign,” he said, “focused on giving targeted groups a big gift — so he made a big effort on small things. Those small things, by the way, add up to trillions of dollars.”

The Wednesday donor call was organized by Romney’s finance team and included a final rundown of fundraising efforts as well as an analysis by Romney pollster Neil Newhouse, who has been criticized by some Republicans for misleading the candidate about his chances.

“I am very sorry that we didn’t win,” Romney told the donors. “I know that you expected to win. We expected to win…. It was very close, but close doesn’t count in this business.”

Romney reflected on the trajectory that led to last week’s loss, acknowledging that he’d “gotten beat up pretty bad” by Obama and his allies after the primaries, but noting his rebound after the first fall debate.

The 2012 Republican nominee avoided any recriminations about his team or a second-guessing of their efforts, calling the organization “a very solid team that got along” – an attribute he said he hoped would be reflected in the 2012 campaign books that are being written.

Romney added that there was “no drama in the campaign — not that everybody was perfect; everybody has flat sides, but we learned how to accommodate each other’s strengths and weaknesses, to build on the strengths.”

“The organization did not get in the way,” he said.

In words of thanks for his donors, Romney said he never expected the campaign to raise more than $500 million. The Romney team ultimately raised more than $900 million, according to finance chairman Spencer Zwick, who reviewed some of the final tallies during the call.

Romney said he and his team were discussing how to keep the campaign’s donor group connected — perhaps with annual meetings or a monthly newsletter — “so we can stay informed and have influence on the direction of the party, and perhaps the selection of a future nominee.”

“Which, by the way,” the former candidate added with a chuckle, “will not be me.”

The former Massachusetts governor said he was trying to turn his thoughts to his plans going forward.

“But frankly we’re still so troubled by the past, it’s hard to put together our plans for the future,” he said.

By Maeve Reston, Los Angeles Times


(CNN)- President Barack Obama will narrowly win the presidential vote in Florida, CNN projected, based on updated vote totals provided by the counties to the state by Saturday’s noon deadline.

Obama won the state with 50.01% of the vote compared with 49.13% for GOP nominee Mitt Romney, according to those numbers. The incumbent’s margin of victory was just shy of 74,000 votes.

With the Sunshine State’s results in – the last undecided state – CNN projects Obama’s electoral vote total comes to 332, well above the 270 required to win the presidency. CNN projects Romney to finish with 206 electoral votes.

The state’s 29 electoral votes have proved decisive in the past and were expected to be important this year.

But Obama ran the board on Election Day, and it was another heavily contested battleground, Ohio, that put Obama over the top.

Obama’s narrow victory in Florida means he has swept all eight of the states CNN, along with other media outlets, rated as “toss-ups,” where the vote was within reach of either candidate.

Heading into Election Day, polls had showed a particularly tight race in Florida, a state that is no stranger to close presidential races. Since 2000, the contest has never been decided by more than 5 percentage points.

Obama won Florida in 2008 by 3 percentage points.

Obama outspent Romney in television advertising in the state, according to CNN consultant Kantar Media/CMAG, although Romney visited the state more. Obama spent $69.5 million on ads in Florida to Romney’s $42 million. Romney made 33 visits to the state, compared to Obama’s 24.


Governor’s race enters final day


Just a day to go before the election, Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee took their campaigns for governor to students hoping to drive up youth turnout in this too-close-to-call race.

It’s not just that both candidates were courting the youth vote, but they were doing so in the very same place, the University of Washington, at the very same time.

Inslee and McKenna chose the popular lunchtime to rally troops.

“I think voters are going to come our way,” said Inslee. “The reason is that they want to keep our state moving forward. You know, we’ve always moved forward, on choice for women, on healthcare and education reform.”

McKenna used his final day appearance to re-iterate his main message, education.

“When I hear folks in Olympia say that we can’t adequately fund our schools or our universities without tax hikes, I find that really frustrating,” McKenna said. “They are basically saying you guys don’t get taken care of except by the last dollars.”

The U.S. visits were a homecoming for both candidates, since each is a Husky graduate.

Current students are fired up for tomorrow’s vote.

“He’s putting the focus on higher education so we can cap tuition rates and ensure that we can put more funding into high education without raising taxes,” said one student and McKenna volunteer.

Another student, an Inslee supporter, cited his candidates stance on social issues.

“He supports the Referendum 74, which is for equality in the State of Washington, moving our society forward,” the student said.

Campaigning so close to each other, how did the candidates feel about a final impromptu encounter on election-eve?

“I’m happy to have a debate,” said Inlsee. “I’d love to debate my opponent on these subjects.”

But McKenna had other plans for his final day.

“We spent a lot of quality time together already,” he said.  “I’d rather spend my quality time with these young people.”

The two most recent polls have Jay Inslee slightly ahead, but well within the margin of error. But McKenna was doing much better among independents, who make up a large part of the undecided voters.

David Lauter and David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times-

After billions of dollars spent, more than a million advertisements aired and hundreds of thousands of new voters registered in key states, this is how close elections are won: volunteers amped up on too much coffee and too little sleep, trudging from door to door, desperately seeking one last voter.

For the third time in four elections, the margin between the winner and loser in a presidential campaign seems on track to be less than 2.5 percentage points. Final polls released Sunday showed the national vote close, with President Obama holding a small edge over Republican Mitt Romney both in the popular vote and in most hotly contested states.

The candidates spent Sunday swooping through swing states, making their final pitches to voters — Romney in Pennsylvania and Virginia, Obama in New Hampshire and Colorado and both men in the two biggest swing states, Florida and Ohio. But as Obama told a crowd in Virginia on Saturday night, at this point in the race, the two of them are little more than “sort of a prop in the campaign.” Not much that a candidate could say at this point would be likely to sway voters.

Instead, for all the campaigns’ reliance on modern technology and the newest techniques in micro-targeting, both sides have responded to the nation’s increasingly polarized politics by going back to the oldest of political techniques — knocking on doors. For the final three days of campaign 2012, that unglamorous, ground-level effort to get out the vote matters deeply.

On Sunday, both sides marshaled armies in the handful of states on which the presidency rides. In Virginia suburbs, Romney volunteers gathered at a phone bank to call supporters and wavering voters. In Ohio, Obama staff distributed pizza to people waiting in long lines at early voting stations. Chicago-area college students rode buses north to Wisconsin to help. Across the battleground states, Obama aides say they have set up 5,117 staging areas in homes, garages and community halls for volunteers to work from; Romney campaign officials insist their smaller operation will pack more punch.

The effort to find and encourage voters took many turns. In Florida, where litigation Sunday over early voting snafus brought unwelcome reminders of the contested election of 2000, Wanda Ramos spent the morning assisting voters at an Orlando polling place where a judge had ordered additional hours of early voting to make up for time lost Saturday to a bomb scare.

“Whatever’s needed, I’m going to be doing it,” she said. Ramos, 47, an administrative assistant at a marketing company, began volunteering for Obama in the last campaign and never stopped. For four years, she has advocated the president’s policies to her neighbors, knocked on doors, made phone calls and, more recently, driven early voters to the polls.

“It’s exciting to see history happen and to be part of that history,” she said.

In Evergreen, Colo., Judy Merkel, 67, would sympathize with the sentiment, if not the candidate. Merkel has volunteered for Romney since July. These days, she gets to bed most of the time at 2 a.m. after a calming cup of herbal tea and a bowl of oatmeal. Strong coffee gets her going again in the morning.

“If I get horizontal, I get to sleep,” she says, “but I don’t get horizontal many hours.”

George W. Bush‘s reelection campaign in 2004 set the standard for get-out-the-vote efforts, producing huge turnouts among Republicans in Ohio, Florida and other key states. Then, in 2008, “we ran out of gas” with the John McCain campaign, said Brett Doster, who is now Romney’s senior advisor in Florida.

With far more money at their disposal this time around, Republicans and allied conservative groups vow they will keep pace with the Democrats and their union allies. Americans for Prosperity, a group financed by the billionaire Koch brothers, plans to spend $140 million this year with a little more than half going to advertisements and much of the rest to get-out-the-vote operations.

In Virginia, where a recent Washington Post poll showed that 43% of likely voters already had been contacted by Obama’s campaign and 40% had heard from Romney’s, Republicans say they have made 5 million voter contacts. On Sunday, 30 volunteers gathered at a town house in Fairfax, in the Washington suburbs, to re-contact supporters and urge them to the polls.

“You see the enthusiasm on our side this time. You see it in the number of volunteers going door to door, the yard signs, people talking to the neighbors,” said Mike Belefski, 62, a retired social studies teacher from Fairfax Station.

Belefski had spent Saturday afternoon walking door to door in Loudoun County, near Dulles International Airport, in some of the most closely contested swing turf in the state. In the town of Ashburn, he said, he encountered a rare undecided voter, an unmarried woman he thinks he may have won over, although she described herself as “pro-choice.”

“We convinced her that jobs and the economy are more important than social issues,” he said, hopefully.

But the Sunday morning calling also illustrated the frustrations of the work. Many voters, bombarded by calls, have stopped picking up their phones. The volunteers often went minutes at a stretch with no one answering. Voters who did pick up often hung up immediately.

Obama campaign officials say that’s why they have put greater emphasis on door-to-door canvassing, although they also have made millions of calls, distributing phone numbers of voters by email to volunteers who agreed to make calls from their homes.

The Democrats scoff at Republican claims of on-the-ground parity, insisting that the nature of their volunteers will give them an edge. Many have worked in their communities for a year or more with some, like Ramos, on the job continuously since 2008, said Jeremy Bird, the campaign’s national field director. An organization that uses local volunteers to canvass neighbors — first registering them, then getting them to the polls — has an advantage that newcomers will not be able to match, he and other campaign officials insist.

“There are homes we’ve been to every week since April or May,” said Elena Squarrell, 28, the Obama campaign’s neighborhood team leader for a nine-block area near downtown Denver, her native city. “We know a lot of the people, so they feel comfortable” asking questions or expressing worries about voting procedures. “We’re really able to help.”

Local News

Inslee, McKenna enter homestretch

With Election Day only four days away, both Washington state gubernatorial candidates for governor held rallies Saturday reminding people to get out and vote.

And with the latest KCTS 9 polling showing the race neck-and-neck, the message was shouted loud and clear.

“Everywhere we’ve gone we’ve been delivering the same message,” Republican candidate Rob McKenna said Saturday. “We’re going to win if we get our ballots back.”

Democratic candidate Jay Inslee spoke to Pierce County voters Saturday.

“We move forward,” Inslee said. “We do not move backwards. That’s who we are.”

Both campaigns expect the large amount of advertisements to continue. Phones will keep ringing off the hooks. Both sides said they’ve made well over a million calls each. Volunteers will continue to go door-to-door delivering their messages.

Until a winner is announced, neither candidate will give up on this office in Olympia.

“I’ve only shaken hands with 5,596,000 people,” Inslee said. “I’ve got 24 more to go. I’ve gotta find folks and shake hands.”

McKenna said it wouldn’t just be the governor’s race that would be close.

“Not just mine but several of the contests on the ballot are going to be close,” he said. “It’s very important that everyone talks to their family to make sure they’re voting.”

Both McKenna and Inslee said the finish line was just around the corner, and they encouraged their supporters to press on.

“I’m going to ask you to hit those phones,” Inslee said. “I’m going to ask you to hit those doors. If you stand up for me for the next four days, I will stand up for you for the next four years. We will move this state forward.”