For the last sev­er­al years, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton’s Cen­ter for Sur­vey Research has tak­en the pulse of Wash­ing­ton’s elec­torate each autumn, in the weeks lead­ing up to Elec­tion Day. The Cen­ter’s sur­vey, known as the Wash­ing­ton Poll, has suc­cess­ful­ly pre­dict­ed the out­come of many fierce­ly con­test­ed bal­lot mea­sures, includ­ing the defeats of I‑933 and I‑1033 in 2006 and 2009.

This year’s Wash­ing­ton Poll has just been released as of late this evening, and it indi­cates that Tim Eyman’s I‑1125 and Cost­co’s I‑1183 are going to be close… pos­si­bly extreme­ly close. The poll, which sur­veyed nine hun­dred and thir­ty eight reg­is­tered vot­ers across Wash­ing­ton between Octo­ber 10th and today (Octo­ber 30th), found sup­port for I‑1183 at 50.3% and sup­port for I‑1125 at 41.4%. Oppo­si­tion stands at 42.8% and 40%, respectively.

The num­bers break down as follows:

Sup­port for I‑1125

Yes — certain25.1% Total Yes: 41.4%
Yes — could change12.5%
Unde­cid­ed — lean yes3.8%

Oppo­si­tion to I‑1125

No — certain30.2% Total No: 40.0%
No — could change7.3%
Unde­cid­ed — lean no2.5%

The total num­ber of unde­cid­ed vot­ers (those with­out a pref­er­ence) is fair­ly high, at 18.7%. This fig­ure indi­cates a lot of vot­ers are not famil­iar with I‑1125 yet.

It is cer­tain­ly encour­ag­ing to see that the num­ber of cer­tain Nos is high­er than the num­ber of cer­tain Yeses. This sug­gests that our efforts against I‑1125 are start­ing to bear fruit. Keep Wash­ing­ton Rolling, the anti-1125 coali­tion that NPI belongs to, is present­ly run­ning sev­er­al tele­vi­sion and radio ads against the mea­sure with the help of Microsoft and Boe­ing, which have col­lec­tive­ly put up close to a mil­lion dol­lars to get the mes­sage out. One spot fea­tures Doug Mac­Don­ald and Sid Mor­ri­son, the for­mer Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­taries, explain­ing how 1125 would threat­en our state’s abil­i­ty to com­plete vital road projects.

NO on I-1125To beat I‑1125, we need to con­vert the rel­a­tive­ly low num­ber of weak Nos into strong Nos, and move a lit­tle more than half of the unde­cid­ed vot­ers into the No col­umn. Unde­cid­ed vot­ers tend to break against poor­ly thought out right wing bal­lot mea­sures when the oppo­si­tion does a good job explain­ing the con­se­quences. We’ve clear­ly got much more that needs to be done in terms of out­reach between now and Novem­ber 8th.

Mean­while, the num­bers for I‑1183 don’t look as encour­ag­ing. I‑1183 has been in the news a lot, and Cost­co is spend­ing a record $22.5 mil­lion this year alone to sell I‑1183. Their ad blitz is hav­ing an impact; the Wash­ing­ton Poll shows sup­port for I‑1183 at just over 50%. But the Pro­tect Our Com­mu­ni­ties coali­tion (of which NPI is a part) isn’t far behind. Take a look at the numbers:

Sup­port for I‑1183

Yes — certain41.1% Total Yes: 50.3%
Yes — could change6.7%
Unde­cid­ed — lean yes2.5%

Oppo­si­tion to I‑1183

No — certain35.6% Total No: 42.8%
No — could change4.9%
Unde­cid­ed — lean no2.2%

The Wash­ing­ton Poll puts the num­ber of unde­cid­ed vot­ers at 6.9%. Clear­ly, more peo­ple have an idea of which way they’re going to vote on I‑1183 than I‑1125. To win, Pro­tect Our Com­mu­ni­ties has to con­vince all of the unde­cid­ed vot­ers in this poll to vote no and con­vince some of those lean­ing yes to vote against.

When in doubt, peo­ple tend to vote no on bal­lot mea­sures, so Pro­tect Our Com­mu­ni­ties needs to refine its crit­i­cism of Cost­co’s ads, which make a lot of too-good-to-be-true promis­es. It won’t be enough for the cam­paign to sim­ply point out that Cost­co is try­ing to buy the elec­tion (though it is good for vot­ers to know who’s behind I‑1183). Pro­tect Our Com­mu­ni­ties has to debunk Cost­co’s false promis­es and paint a stronger pic­ture of the hid­den con­se­quences of I‑1183.

Cost­co’s media con­sul­tants are going all-out to sell I‑1183, and the results of this poll reflect that. Cost­co is doing all it can to blunt the effec­tive­ness of Pro­tect Our Com­mu­ni­ties’ mes­sage — putting first respon­ders into its own adver­tis­ing, claim­ing that pas­sage of the mea­sure will increase state rev­enue, and so on. Pro­tect Our Com­mu­ni­ties needs to respond to these coun­ter­mea­sures with its own.

Grant­ed, the only tru­ly defin­i­tive poll is the elec­tion itself, which is hap­pen­ing right now. All of the evi­dence we have sug­gests that I‑1125 and I‑1183 will be close. To cross the fin­ish line first, Keep Wash­ing­ton Rolling and Pro­tect Our Com­mu­ni­ties will need to cam­paign aggres­sive­ly in the last week and try to reach as many vot­ers who have not already vot­ed as possible.

The Wash­ing­ton Poll also looked at how the 2012 guber­na­to­r­i­al and pres­i­den­tial races are shap­ing up, though those con­tests are a year away from being decid­ed. The poll found Rob McKen­na lead­ing Jay Inslee, 44.9% to 38.4%, with 17.6% unde­cid­ed. It also found Barack Oba­ma lead­ing both Rick Per­ry and Mitt Rom­ney by a com­fort­able mar­gin. Oba­ma polled bet­ter against Rom­ney (54% vs. 50.2%), though Rom­ney him­self did­n’t poll any bet­ter than Per­ry (both men got 40.7%).

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, respon­dents told sur­vey­ors that the econ­o­my and the reces­sion were the biggest issues on their minds.

High unem­ploy­ment was specif­i­cal­ly cit­ed as a concern.

The poll also asked respon­dents how they would vote if there was a bal­lot mea­sure con­cern­ing mar­riage equal­i­ty next year. 47% said they would strong­ly sup­port such a mea­sure; 31% said they would strong­ly oppose. 8% said they were inclined to vote yes and 7% said they were inclined to vote no.

The remain­ing 7% were undecided.

These num­bers sug­gest that a ref­er­en­dum to over­turn a mar­riage equal­i­ty bill would fail, which is very encouraging.

The Leg­is­la­ture ought to enact a mar­riage equal­i­ty bill in the 2012 leg­isla­tive ses­sion and advance the cause of civ­il rights in Wash­ing­ton. The right wing would undoubt­ed­ly try to force a ref­er­en­dum on the bill, but they’d be doing so in a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion year, with high­er than usu­al turnout.

Mov­ing for­ward next year would seem to be a risk worth tak­ing. It cer­tain­ly feels like the time has come. Wash­ing­ton should be in the van­guard of the mar­riage equal­i­ty move­ment, not bring­ing up the rear. We’ve banned dis­crim­i­na­tion on the basis of sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion. We’ve done domes­tic part­ner­ships… twice.

Now it’s time for the real thing: Full mar­riage equality.

Speak­ing of turnout, Sec­re­tary of State Sam Reed has fore­cast turnout for this year’s elec­tion at only 47%. If the pre­dic­tion holds true, it’ll mean that less than half of Wash­ing­ton’s vot­ers will be decid­ing the fate of I‑1125 and I‑1183.

POSTSCRIPT: Here’s a few fast facts about the Wash­ing­ton Poll.

  • First con­duct­ed in 2006
  • Has suc­cess­ful­ly pre­dict­ed the out­come (suc­cess or fail­ure) of every bal­lot mea­sure that it has polled, with the excep­tion of I‑985 in 2008 (but the poll did show sup­port for I‑985 weakening).
  • Prin­ci­pal­ly inves­ti­gat­ed by Dr. Matt Bar­reto, Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Polit­i­cal Sci­ence at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Washington.
  • Admin­is­tered over the phone by live callers, based on a ran­dom­ly select­ed list of phone num­bers using a pub­licly avail­able list of reg­is­tered voters.
  • Both land­lines and cell phones were includ­ed in the list.
  • Aver­age twen­ty-eight min­utes in length.
  • Results have a 3.2% mar­gin of error.

For more infor­ma­tion, please see the Wash­ing­ton Poll web­site.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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5 replies on “Poll Watch: Tim Eyman’s I‑1125 and Costco’s I‑1183 will be close, respected poll indicates”

  1. I am sick of being called a right winger. Because I am vot­ing for this I am a right winger, huh? I resent your com­ment and If I were vot­ing no I would now vote yes. I am sick of you pro-gov­ern­ment do every­thing for peo­ple types. The leg­is­la­ture is a polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion. We do not need politi­cians charg­ing more than they need for tolls and using that mon­ey for oth­er pro­grams and pur­pos­es. they are not sub­jec­tive. Experts in account­ing, costs on these new projects are unbi­ased and will charge only what is prac­ti­cal and nec­es­sary. I do not care if more projects don’t get built. we need to stop tax­ing and spend­ing. Less gov­ern­ment IS Amer­i­ca not your ide­al of big­ger gov­ern­ment. We do not want the new Colum­bia Riv­er Cross­ing and light rail here in Van­cou­ver. We will not tol­er­ate it and it will prob­a­bly get blown up just as it gets done. That’s how upset peo­ple are about this. No $400 mil­lion from Wash­ing­ton on this.

    Note: This com­ment was edit­ed by NPI to com­ply with our Com­ment­ing Guidelines.

    1. Paul, you seem confused.

      The only thing that is char­ac­ter­ized as right wing in this post is Ini­tia­tive 1125 itself. I did­n’t say that every­one who sup­ports I‑1125 belongs to the right wing, although cer­tain­ly I‑1125’s most ardent pro­po­nents (includ­ing Tim Eyman and his sup­port­ers) are part of the right wing in this state.

      You say you’re sick of being called “a right winger”. That implies that oth­er peo­ple have been (unfair­ly, in your view) call­ing you that. Per­haps you’ve been labeled that way because you sound like an anti-gov­ern­ment Tea Par­ty con­ser­v­a­tive. That’s the impres­sion I got from read­ing your comment.

      Your asser­tion “if I were vot­ing no I would now vote yes” made me laugh. 

      Obvi­ous­ly, you’d already made up your mind about I‑1125 before you read and com­ment­ed on this post. The lan­guage you used in your com­ment makes it clear that you feel strong­ly about this issue. And a vot­er who feels strong­ly about an issue is going to vote on prin­ci­ple — not change his or her vote on a whim. 

      I also thought it was fun­ny that you called the Leg­is­la­ture a polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion. Of course it is. So is the State of Wash­ing­ton. In fact, all gov­ern­ments every­where are polit­i­cal organizations. 

      As pro­gres­sives, we do not believe that gov­ern­ment can or should do every­thing. But we know that there are some things that we can only accom­plish by pool­ing our resources into a com­mon wealth. Like build­ing roads and bridges. 

      You may not think we need a new Colum­bia Riv­er Cross­ing. But the twin bridges that car­ry I‑5 over the Colum­bia are aging and needs to be replaced. One of the spans dates back to 1917; the oth­er dates back to 1958. These spans car­ry a huge amount of traf­fic and are at the end of their use­ful lives. It’s time to replace them. The last thing we need is anoth­er bridge dis­as­ter, like the one we had in Min­neapo­lis in 2007 that killed thir­teen peo­ple and injured anoth­er one hun­dred and forty five. 

      Maybe you your­self don’t care about how safe our bridges are. But you know what, Paul? Many of your fel­low cit­i­zens care a great deal about how safe our roads and high­ways are. So don’t be sur­prised if you log on to your com­put­er tomor­row evening and find that you’ve been out­vot­ed on I‑1125.

  2. Pret­ty biased against I‑1183, aren’t you? So what are the “false promis­es” Cost­co and oth­er big retail­ers are mak­ing about get­ting the state out of the busi­ness? There WILL be bet­ter selec­tion and more stores for con­sumers. There WILL be low­er prices, as recent stud­ies have indi­cat­ed. There will be more rev­enue for the state as well, as stud­ies have also shown. The “pro­tect our com­mu­ni­ties” argu­ments are dis­tor­tions and their fear-mon­ger­ing name alone is an insult to any intel­li­gent vot­er. The big dis­trib­u­tors, who are equal­ly try­ing to “buy” this elec­tion, have real­ly over­played their hand this time, and the bat­tle between them and retail­ers (which is real­ly what this mea­sure is all about) is going to be final­ly won by the retail­ers, as it should be. It will be a big vic­to­ry for all of us to end Wash­ing­ton’s post-Pro­hi­bi­tion monop­oly on liquor sales.

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