Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Latest Elway poll suggests Democrats will retain Legislature

Via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, we learn that the latest Elway poll is out - and once again there's good news for Democrats:
Voters in Washington state give an 11-point advantage to Democrats in a generic election for the Legislature, according to the latest Elway Poll. Forty-four percent favor Dems while 33 percent would vote for the GOP.

Pollster Stuart Elway says the breakdown of the numbers is even more worrisome for Republicans. Nine in 10 Democrats plan to vote for members of their own party, while three of four Republicans were sure they'd vote for GOP candidates. Independents said they favored Democrats by a two to one margin.

The poll of 405 registered voters in the state was conducted March 20-22. The margin of error is 5 percent.
Despite the hysterical, silly ranting of zealots like Tim Eyman, voters seem pretty happy with Olympia's leadership. This poll is certainly evidence of that idea.

This isn't a surprise, of course, especially coming on the heels of the landmark victory against Initiative 912. It is a another vindication of legislative and gubernatorial successes.

Governor Christine Gregoire and state legislators have a lot to be proud of. In the last two years they've made significant progress on a lot of tough issues, including transportation, civil rights, and increasing environmental protections. This year, Democrats have a chance to extend their majorities in both houses and come back for the 2007 legislative session stronger than ever.

On a smiliar note, the AP's David Ammons has a piece this weekend asking, "Will anyone remember Rossi if he runs again?"

If Rossi does choose to run again it's likely that many voters will remember his 2004 bid (after all, the 2004 election received a huge amount of media attention).

The huge problem for Rossi is that it won't be 2004, and it will be a completely different race. He will have been out of the public limelight for almost four years (if and) when he kicks off his 2008 candidacy, as Ammons noted. His old themes won't resonate.

Whether voters remember Rossi or not won't be very important. What will be important is whether the electorate will be satisfied with Governor Christine Gregoire's leadership. And unfortunately for Rossi, they probably will be.

So far, Gregoire has been a very strong governor, refusing to duck even the toughest issues. She has worked very diligently to tackle some of the state's hardest problems, bringing warring factions together and insisting on results.

There's no reason to believe this won't continue, especially since it seems that Gregoire will once again have a friendly Legislature to work with for the remainder of her first four year term.

One unknown and complicating factor is the slew of right wing ballot initiatives that could be on the ballot this year. But as I wrote many times last year while we were fighting I-912, we can turn these challenges into opportunities.

The problem for the GOP and the right wing, of course, is the chance of failure.
If their ballot measures fail, Gregoire and the Democrats will enjoy an even stronger position. With their major decisions vindicated by voters, there would be little for Republicans to go on the offensive with.

Republicans can't insist the gas tax is controversial any more because it was explicitly upheld by voters. What happens if the same thing happens this year? What happens if the Farm Bureau and its allies fall short and don't destroy the growth management laws? What happens if Tim Eyman's I-917 fails and the transportation package remains intact (again)?

Since the GOP has little hope of recapturing the Legislature, a lot of energy will be put into ballot measures. (So far, the right is working on I-917, I-920, I-933, and R-65). But if those efforts fall short - and we will do our best to make sure they will - the Republicans will be in pretty bad shape.

Our friends at Progressive Majority are working hard to make sure that Democrats are very competitive in this year's legislative races, and they will have our full support. We will also be very active in supporting Maria Cantwell and Darcy Burner.

But you can bet that we'll have an extremely significant focus this year on derailing every single one of those right wing ballot measures. If we can deflect all those challenges, we will create enormous opportunities for even more victories in the years that follow.

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