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Poll Watch: Tim Eyman’s Initiative 517 is sinking like a rock, new surveys show

It looks like our efforts to educate voters about the cost and consequences of Tim Eyman’s initiative on initiative (I-517) are starting to pay off. Hurrah!

The last two surveys to gauge support for Initiative 517 both show support for the measure dropping, and the most recent of the two – just released today – finds that opposition to I-517 is greater than the support for I-517, with just a week to go before Election Day. This is big news, and very good news.

The polls were conducted by the firms founded by Stuart Elway (out of Seattle) and Bob Moore (run out of Portland). Elway and Moore have both been conducting public opinion research in the Pacific Northwest for a very long time.

Here are the results from Elway’s poll:

Elway Poll on I-517 of 413 registered voters
Conducted October 15th – 17th (landlines and cellphones)
Margin of error is plus or minus five percentage points

Yes: 52% (25% definitely yes)
No: 25% (18% definitely no)
Undecided: 23%

Elway previously polled on I-517 in September and found support for the measure at 58% and opposition at 22%. Elway’s October poll was mostly conducted prior to the launch of the NO on I-517 Coalition’s television spot, “Get Ready”. Moore Information’s poll, on the other hand, was conducted after “Get Ready” had begun airing, and shows support for I-517 collapsing:

Moore Information Poll on I-517 of 500 likely voters
Conducted October 23rd – 24th (landlines and cellphones)
Margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points

Have already voted or plan to vote

Yes: 33%
No: 40%
Don’t know/refused: 27%

Among those who have already voted, Moore found opposition was even higher. 48% said they had voted no on I-517, while 28% said they had voted yes and 24% did not know or refused to answer. That’s a very big gap between yes and no. If the trend holds, we could see I-517 go down to defeat by a comfortable margin.

More insights from Moore:

Importantly, intensity is stronger on the “no” side – among those who have yet to cast their ballots, 21% say they are a “definite” no vote, while only 11% are a definite “yes” vote.

There is plurality opposition to I-517 in Eastern Washington and the Central Puget Sound region, but a plurality of voters residing in the rest of Western Washington outside Central Puget Sound favor the measure.  Both Democrats and Republicans oppose I-517, but Independents are supportive. There are also significant differences in sentiment by age – younger voters (age 18-34) support I-517, while voters age 35-64 are divided and a plurality of seniors are opposed.

It looks like we need to bolster our outreach to young voters. But it’s good to know that our campaign is making a difference.

The NO on I-517 Coalition is one of the most diverse, bipartisan campaigns ever assembled to oppose a ballot measure in Washington State. It includes NPI and the Washington State Democratic Party, as well as the Mainstream Republicans and the Association of Washington Business. Governor Jay Inslee opposes I-517, as does former Attorney General Rob McKenna, who he ran against last year.

Seattle’s major sports teams are on board too, as are most of the state’s retailers, from the independent and family owned grocers that belong to the Washington Food Industry Association to the well-known supermarkets and home improvement stores that have provided financial support to the coalition.

As of this week, the coalition has raised around $600,000 in cash and in-kind contributions. Most of the coalition’s donors are individuals or independently-owned, family-run stores. The largest donations to the campaign have come from Safeway, Kroger, and the Washington Retail Association.

The Yes side has barely reported raising any money since the signature drive ended. Tim Eyman has minimized his involvement in the campaign, and claims to be working on an initiative for 2014. Eyman and his associates’ I-517 operation remains under investigation by the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) for violating the state’s public disclosure laws during the initiative’s signature drive last year.


  1. Jacquelyn Sherrod
    Posted October 31st, 2013 at 11:00 AM | Permalink

    Good news. Down with 517!

  2. Isabelle Simon
    Posted October 31st, 2013 at 9:43 PM | Permalink

    I’m so sick of Eyman initiatives. Our transit service has been suffering ever since I-695 and I-776 went into effect. When will we be free of him?

  3. Carol
    Posted November 3rd, 2013 at 7:49 PM | Permalink

    Nice apparent results, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Left the area on the 27th and I DIDN’T see any ads against the initiative up till then. I couldn’t understand WHY the grocery stores were putting so much money against 522 and NOTHING if anything against this Eynman initiative which would allow him free access to their stores. Very stange.

  4. Andrew
    Posted November 3rd, 2013 at 8:34 PM | Permalink

    Have faith, Carol. We’ve beaten Eyman before, and we can do so again this year.

    I don’t put much stock in polls myself. I believe the only real poll is the election. But we have waged an actual campaign against I-517, whereas the Yes side is not campaigning. They’ve consistently failed to send people to forums to make the case for the initiative, they are not doing any voter outreach, and now they’re even neglecting to respond to interview requests. They’re hoping the ballot title will carry them to victory. As I said in the post, I don’t think that is going to work.

    Safeway, Kroger, and other retailers have collectively donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight I-517. I wouldn’t call that nothing. Also, the stores opposing I-517 are not involved in the No on 522 campaign, at least not financially. I think you are confusing the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and its members (like Kellogg’s or General Mills) with the Washington Retail Association, the Washington Food Industry Association, and their members.

  5. Tom Welter
    Posted November 4th, 2013 at 10:37 AM | Permalink

    Your ad against I517 is wrong on 1 point.
    Only the courts can determine e legitimacy or constitutionality of a law passed by initiative.
    Any speculation as to a law/initiative prior to it’s test in the courts is just opinion and wishful thinking.

    Your negative ad is VERY misleading on this and other points

  6. Andrew
    Posted November 4th, 2013 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

    Tom, it’s our belief that I-517 is unconstitutional, and we are free to express that opinion. The courts, incidentally, do not simply render pronouncements about whether initiatives are constitutional or not. A group of plaintiffs seeking to have a law overturned as unconstitutional can’t just say to the courts, Look into this, will you, and get back to us. That is not how our legal system works. The plaintiffs instead have to lay out their arguments and make the case that the initiative is unconstitutional. They have to persuade the court that their analysis is the correct analysis. The attorneys take a stand and defend it before the court. The court does not rule until after it has considered the arguments. But the arguments get made prior to the judgment.

    We are making our opinion about I-517 known in the court of public opinion, as is our right. There is nothing misleading about us saying I-517 is unconstitutional. If an initiative is poorly conceived, that is a good reason to vote against it. Saves a lot of time and trouble later on. We really ought to have prior legal review of initiatives like Alaska does, but unfortunately, we don’t.

    What other points did you find misleading?