Spokane County voters are sending in their general election ballots in record numbers, far ahead of previous midterm elections and even ahead of 2008, when the county set a modern-day record for turnout.

Whether that’s good news for Democratic challengers like congressional candidate Lisa Brown or Republican incumbents like Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers remains to be seen.

Cornell Clayton.

“This would suggest a wave election,” said Cornell Clayton, professor of political science and director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute of Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University.

Wave elections tend to favor candidates from the party other than the president, Clayton said, and that would be Democrats like Brown. But there are more Republican voters overall in Eastern Washington.

The 58,238 ballots received by Thursday afternoon represent more than 18 percent of those mailed to county voters last week.

Predictions of an election surge benefiting Democrats—the so-called blue wave—are based on President Donald Trump’s relatively low approval rating, the Democratic advantage in generic polls asking voters which party they prefer, and higher reported enthusiasm among Democrats, Clayton said.

But Republicans are trying to make a comeback, and Trump is “doing everything he can” to encourage that, he added.

“We’re in uncharted political waters,” Clayton said. “Things are incredibly polarized.”

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