Mercer Island joined the Democratic Party wave in the 2012 General Election with local majorities supporting US President Barack Obama and other Democrats for state offices and several Democrat-backed intiatives, with a few notable exceptions.
Islanders stayed with President Barack Obama, handing him a wide victory margin of 28 points over his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, 63-35, but not as large as his 34-point victory in 2008, when he won 66-32. Romney failed to win a single precinct on Mercer Island. He came closest in Precinct 765, which represents the neighborhoods of Fortuna/Covenant Shores and El Dorado on the Northeastern shore of the Island. He lost by nine votes there.
The largest vote tally by any elected official on Mercer Island was handed to a Democrat, US Senator Maria Cantwell (D), who garnered 9,772 votes — a larger margin than her collegue Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat, secured in 2010 over Republican Dino Rossi. Islanders will also be represented by a Democrat in the U.S. House for the first time in 30 years, largely thanks to redistricting Mercer Island into the U.S. Ninth District, and supported U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D), 66-34, over Republican challenger Jim Postma.
The election was boosted by a near-record turnout of 87.3 percent of Mercer Island's registered voters — nearly equaling the 2008 record of 88-percent turnout, as residents selected the winning candidate or measure in nearly every race.
At the state level, a majority of local voters selected Democrats for all offices save one: 41st Legislative District incumbent Sen. Steve Litzow, who won Mercer Island 55-45 over fellow Islander and Democrat Maureen Judge. State House Rep. Marcie Maxwell easily won re-election, while incumbent Rep. Judy Clibborn's re-election was uncontested. And in one of the closest races in the election, Democrat Jay Inslee edged out Republican State Attorney General Rob McKenna on Mercer Island, 52-48.
On statewide initiatives and referendums, Islanders overwhelmingly supported two ballot measures favored mainly by Democrats: Referendum 74, which approved gay marriage, 71-29, and Initiative 502, which partially legalizes marijuana, 61-39.
However, local voters once again supported the fiscally conservative Initiative 1185, authored by Tim Eyman, which sets a 2/3 majority needed to raise taxes, 54-46. Voters approved a similar measure by a slightly larger margin, I-1053, in 2010. They also narrowly supported the creation of charter schools in the state, which enjoys more bi-partisan support nationally, 53-47.
The exceptions where Mercer Island voters went against the grain was in the narrow majority support for former State Sen. Kathleen Drew in the Secretary of State's race against eventual winner, Thurston Co. auditor Kim Wyman. While approving I-1185, local voters also appeared to be willing to give legislators more leverage in reforming tax measures, approving two advisory votes (which both failed statewide) and two amendments to the state constitution. The amendment on limiting state debt passed, but the other which would have allowed public universities more freedom to make financial investments failed.
An analysis of close races in the election on Mercer Island suggests a partisan tilt for particular neighborhoods. Faben Point, Covenant Shores, Mercerwood and the South-end shoreline along East and West Mercer Way trend Republican, while the neighborhoods of Tarrywood, Shorewood Heights, Town Center, and First Hill trend Democrat.
Islanders also lent majority support to a local levy for the city to rebuild Mercer Island Fire Department Station 92 and purchase a new fire rescue truck, 56-44 — though local supporters and opponents each noted that the measure wouldn't have passed if City Council had decided to seek a voter-approved bond, which requires 60 percent of the vote.
Voters seemed very engaged overall, but one area where enthusiasm dropped noticeably was in the election of judges at the state and local level. The closely watched race for an open seat on the State Supreme Court between former Justice Richard Sanders and civil rights attorney Sheryl McCloud drew only 74 percent of all ballots cast, with 26 percent of ballots marking no preference. The vote leaves McCloud the victor with an endorsement from only 46 percent of Mercer Island. A closely contested election for King County Superior Court, Position 42 was even worse — Mercer Island resident Sue Parisen only secured 5,623 votes to defeat incumbent Superior Court Judge Christopher Washington — just 36.9 percent. Nearly 30 percent of local voters chose not to vote for either candidate in that race.
(Ed. Note: The following are Mercer Island vote totals only. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number, and do not account for blank ballots where no vote is cast.)
President:Obama/Biden (D): 9,529 (63%) Romney/Ryan (R): 5,386 (35%) Johnson/Gray (L): 141 (1%)
Write-in/Other Candidates: 123 (1%) US Senate: Maria Cantwell (D): 9,772 (66%)
Michael Baumgartner (R): 4,934 (34%)
US House, District 9: Adam Smith (D): 9,107 (66%)
Jim Postma (R): 4,777 (34%)
Governor: Jay Inslee: (D) 7,650 (52%)
Rob McKenna (R): 7,125 (48%)
Lt. Governor: Brad Owen (D): 7,564 (57%)
Bill Finkbeiner (R): 6,218 (43%)
Attorney General: Ferguson (D): 7,806 (56%)
Dunn (R): 6,075 (44%)
Secretary of State: Kathleen Drew (D): 7,018 (52%)
Kim Wyman (R): 6,544 (48%)
State Auditor: Troy Kelley (D): 7,553 (57%)
James Watkins (R): 5,670 (43%)
State Treasurer: Jim McIntire (D): 8,887 (66%)
Sharon Hanek (R): 4,573 (34%)
State Insurance Commissioner: Mike Kreidler (D): 8,801 (66%)
John R. Adams (R): 4,523 (34%)
State Commissioner of Public Lands: Peter Goldmark (D): 9,138 (68%)
Clint Didier (R): 4,255 (32%)
State Supreme Court, Post. 9: Sheryl McCloud: 6,987 (62%)
Richard Sanders: 4,204 (38%)
State Senate, Leg. Dist. 41: Steve Litzow (R): 7,649 (55%)
Maureen Judge (D): 6,308 (45%)
State House, Leg. Dist. 41: Marcie Maxwel (D)l: 8,385 (61%)
Tim Eaves (R): 5,196 (39%)
Referendum 74, concerns marriage for same-sex couples Approve: 10,461 (71%) Reject: 4,361 (29%)
Initiative 502, concerns marijuana Yes: 9,080 (61%) No: 5,690 (39%)
Initiative 1185, concerns tax and fee increases imposed by state government Yes: 7,544 (54%)
No: 6,313 (46%)
Initiative 1240, concerns creation of a public charter school system Yes: 7,466 (53%) No: 6,731 (47%)
Senate Joint Resolution 8223, concerns investments by UW and WSU Approved: 8,792 (64%) Rejected: 4,883 (36%)
Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution 8221, concerns implementing the Commission on State Debt recommendations regarding WA's debt limit Approved: 8,767 (68%) Rejected: 4,174 (32%)
Advisory Vote 1 (Engrossed Senate Bill 6635), concerns a B&O tax deduction for certain financial institutions' interest on residential loans Maintain: 7,239 (57%) Repeal: 5,386 (43%)
Advisory Vote 2 (Substitute House Bill 2590), concerns expiration of a tax on possession of petroleum products Maintain: 7,663 (61%) Repeal: 4,918 (39%)
King County Sheriff John Urquhart: 6,650 (59%) Steve Strachan: 4,620 (41%)
King County Superior Court, Position 42 Sue Parisen: 5,623 (52%) Christopher Washington: 5,102 (48%)
Mercer Island Fire Station/Truck Levy Prop. 1 Approve: 7,833 (56%) Reject: 6,031 (44%)