The KXLY/Inlander Poll

As a pivotal election season quickly approaches, The Inlander has teamed with the KXLY Broadcast Group to take the pulse of the community. Together, we engaged Strategic Research Associates of Spokane, an independent research organization affiliated with the KXLY Broadcast Group, to conduct a major survey of the citizens of Spokane and Spokane County. Along with the major decisions to be made about leadership at the national and state level, the county will vote on two of its three commissioner positions; meanwhile, the city will choose a new mayor to be the first ever under the strong mayor system adopted last year.

With such high stakes, we decided a survey like this could help clear the air and separate the usual campaign hot air from the real hot button issues. Polling allows us to find out what the average person thinks - not the people who routinely get quoted in the media or can be found in the letters to the editor section of the newspaper. We hope that through this exercise, the community - and its candidates - will better understand what is really important. To monitor the community's progress on these issues, we'll revisit these questions from time to time as a kind of community report card. To start with, we asked city residents what they think about the Spokane City Council:

& & Regarding the way the Spokane City Council is currently doing its job, do you tend to approve, disapprove or are you neutral? & &

Approve: 18%

Neutral: 32%

Disapprove: 49%

Don't know: 1%

& & Regarding the way ___________ is handling his/her job as a county council member, do you tend to approve, disapprove or are you neutral? & &

Roberta Greene

Approve: 34%

Neutral: 34%

Disapprove: 28%

Don't know: 3%

Steve Eugster

Approve: 31%

Neutral: 30%

Disapprove: 37%

Don't know: 2%

Cherie Rodgers

Approve: 28%

Neutral: 47%

Disapprove: 23%

Don't know: 2%

Steve Corker

Approve: 27%

Neutral: 48%

Disapprove: 22%

Don't know: 3%

John Talbott

Approve: 27%

Neutral: 42%

Disapprove: 23%

Don't know: 8%

Rob Higgins

Approve: 20%

Neutral: 52%

Disapprove: 24%

Don't know: 4%

Phyllis Holmes

Approve: 17%

Neutral: 59%

Disapprove: 21%

Don't know: 3%

& & Within the last two years, has your personal trust in Spokane County government increased, stayed the same or decreased? & &

Increased: 9%

Stayed the same: 43%

Decreased: 45%

Don't know: 3%

& & Right now, would you say you personally trust Spokane's county government strongly, moderately, not very or not at all? & &

Strongly: 4%

Moderately: 49%

Not very: 28%

Not at all: 17%

Don't know: 3%

Inside the numbers

City residents don't like the job the City Council is doing. With nearly half saying they disapprove of the council's current performance (and only 18 percent saying they approve), it's clear that citizens feel their city is unresponsive to their needs. In fact, on a separate question related to quality of life (which we will report on next week), city and county residents placed the City Council's not working well together as the community's third most negative feature, just below bad roads and low wages. And when compared to the same question asked about the Spokane County Board of Commissioners, the public perception about the City Council comes into even sharper focus. While their approval ratings are about the same, the commissioners' disapproval rating is 28 percent - 21 points lower than the City Council's.

And it's getting worse. When asked if their personal trust in the City Council has increased, decreased or stayed the same over the past two years, 45 percent said it has decreased; only 32 percent said the same thing about Spokane County government.

People like individuals better than the institution. As is normally found in national polls which show low approval for Congress but generally high approval for people's own Congressional representative, Spokane citizens generally give individual council members higher approval ratings than the council as a whole. And the gaps in the disapproval ratings are even bigger, as they range from 21 to 37 percent for individuals - much lower than the 49 percent given to the council as a whole.

Individual council members appeal to individual constituencies. In cross-tabulating the data from the survey, you can see that Mayor John Talbott has higher approval ratings from Republicans, parents and people who earn $50,000 a year or more; he has higher disapproval ratings, however, from women and political independents or members of third parties. Roberta Greene finds strong support among young people, ages 18-34, and minorities; men, however, tend not to support her. Steve Eugster's strongest support comes from those who make $35,000 a year or less; his strongest disapproval comes from those who hold a four-year degree or higher. Steve Corker, too, receives low marks from those holding four-year degrees or higher; his strongest support seems to come from political independents or members of third parties. Cherie Rodgers has high approval from parents and minorities. And Phyllis Holmes has good support from Republicans, while Rob Higgins has high disapproval from Republicans. As for the council as a whole, its highest approval comes from those who are 55 and older and Republicans; its lowest approval comes from women and people who are between the ages of 35-54.

The statistics in this section are based on the results of a major community survey conducted by Strategic Research Associates of Spokane between July 15 and Aug. 3, 2000. SRA polled 450 Spokane County residents 18 and older who have lived in the county for three months or more. The sample was also weighted to match the county's demographical makeup by age, by gender and by city and non-city residents. The results of this 112-question survey offer a margin of error of & plusmn;4.6 percent.

For more in-depth coverage visit our & lt;a href="" & local news page & lt;/a & .

  • or

About The Author