Thursday, November 1, 2012

Election spoilers: Highlights (and caveats) from the Washington state poll

Posted By on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Don’t read the following if you want to keep an atmosphere of surprise about next week’s election.

But if you want a sneak peek, KCTS released their latest Washington Poll this morning. (Read it yourself here.) Polls can never be exact. Some types of people are more likely to answer phone calls from pollsters, and others may be a little more shy (or dishonest) about their opinions to a stranger.

That said, we took a quick run-through to point out the highlights:

This particular poll has a decent sample size –  722 registered voters – but was a poll taken over two weeks. So if there are any major shifts in public opinion, throughout that time, this poll won’t really show how dramatic they are.

-That said, the poll managed to call both cell phones and landlines.

-The poll quizzed voters on their opinions of the Tea Party, but not Occupy Wall Street. (Most Washington voters aren’t fans of the Tea Party.)

-The poll asked potential voters if they lied on the survey, and if any topics made them feel uncomfortable. Those who were said they were uncomfortable were more likely to vote against gay marriage. (The pollsters, then, assumed any uncomfortable respondents were opposed to R-74, and moved them to the “R” column.)

Oddly enough, a plurality support balancing the state budget with tax increases instead of just spending cuts, but most are opposed to the idea of a state income tax on the wealthy.

- With a still-tepid recovery from the recession, it’s not surprising that the economy and jobs took top billing: 33 percent said fixing the economy was an important general issue filling out their ballot, and 15 percent named “jobs.” Voters also named gay marriage as a major issue.

What may be more surprising is which issues few voters named: Despite “War on Women” rhetoric, only 7.3 percent named “women’s issues” as important to them when filling out their ballot.

Hardly anyone cared about on climate change (2.1 percent) or foreign policy (4.2) percent.

- The marijuana initiative is on very groovy ground: 48.7 percent are certain they’ll vote yes, and only 34.8 percent are certain they’ll vote no.

-The gay marriage referendum also appears to be doing well, with 53.9 certain they’ll vote for it, and only 33 percent certain they’ll vote against it.

-Similarly, charter schools may be heading for passage: 55.3 support it, 36.4 oppose it.

-Tim Eyman’s perennial initiative requiring two-thirds vote of the legislature (or voter approval) to raise taxes is winning, 53.6 percent to 34.2 percent.

-One of the most fascinating aspects: When supporters or opponents of initiatives were read the arguments from the other side, they regularly said the arguments just made them more certain of their original position.

- Washington voters like Olympia more than Washington D.C. Only 20.6 had a positive opinion of U.S. Congress, while 37.7 had a positive opinion of the state legislature.

- Michael Baumgartner only has a support of barely a third of likely voters.

- Just over half believe that Washington state is heading in the right direction (50.4 percent) versus 34.7 that think we’re on the wrong track.

- Inslee and McKenna’s solid base of support is nearly identical: 39.5 are certain they’ll vote for Inslee, and 40 percent are certain they’ll vote for McKenna.

- Obama appears to be winning among registered Washington voters unsurprisingly, but Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, with 2 percent, is doing substantially better than Green Party candidate Jill Stein, with only 0.1 percent (probably just 1 polled voter).

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