NO on Initiative 732
NO on Initiative 732

Car­bon­WA’s poor­ly con­ceived I‑732 is under water and far­ing worse than the oth­er five ini­tia­tives cer­ti­fied to Wash­ing­ton’s bal­lot this year, accord­ing to a new sur­vey released this morn­ing by long­time poll­ster Stu­art Elway.

I‑732 would insti­tute a pol­lu­tion tax and use the pro­ceeds to low­er oth­er tax­es. Its pro­mot­ers say it’s rev­enue neu­tral, but the state Office of Finan­cial Man­age­ment and the Depart­ment of Rev­enue don’t agree.

The Alliance for Jobs & Clean Ener­gy last year test­ed the I‑732 bal­lot title and found it start­ed out at just 39%. Sub­se­quent polling by NPI found I‑732 at 52% in June of 2016 (which is bet­ter, but still pre­car­i­ous for a cam­paign out of the gate).

Now Elway, who was in the field from August 9th-13th, has found the following:

Car­bon­WA’s Ini­tia­tive 732

  • For: 34%
  • Against: 37%
  • Unde­cid­ed: 30%

I‑732 does best with Seat­tle vot­ers (51% sup­port) and Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers (45%) — note the soft­ness of those fig­ures. It does the worst with Repub­li­cans (54%), which val­i­dates the Alliance’s crit­i­cism — which we agree with — that attempt­ing to craft an ini­tia­tive to appeal to Republican/conservative vot­ers was a folly.

Integri­ty Wash­ing­ton’s I‑1464 also clocks in with just 34% sup­port; how­ev­er, its oppo­si­tion only reg­is­ters at 23%. Car­bon­WA’s I‑732 is the only ini­tia­tive in Elway’s sur­vey with a high­er per­cent­age of vot­ers in the “against” col­umn than the “for” col­umn. It is the first thing vot­ers will see on their bal­lots statewide.

It should be not­ed that Elway’s sur­vey is of reg­is­tered vot­ers, not like­ly voters:

500 reg­is­tered vot­ers, select­ed at ran­dom from reg­is­tered vot­er lists in Wash­ing­ton state, were inter­viewed August 9–13 2016 by live, pro­fes­sion­al inter­view­ers. 36% of the inter­views were con­duct­ed on cell phones. The mar­gin of sam­pling error is ±4.5% at the 95% lev­el of con­fi­dence. This means, in the­o­ry, had this same sur­vey been con­duct­ed 100 times, the results would be with­in ±4.5% of the results report­ed here at least 95 times.

How­ev­er, 70% of respon­dents had vot­ed two or more times in the past four elec­tions, which sug­gests that most respon­dents in the poll will end up being vot­ers in the Novem­ber 2016 gen­er­al elec­tion. The remain­ing 30% of the sam­ple only vot­ed once in the past four elec­tions, or not at all.

Car­bon­WA does­n’t have the mon­ey to go up on tele­vi­sion or radio, or to do much of any adver­tis­ing at all. It seems their plan is to rely on word of mouth, earned media, and grass­roots orga­niz­ing to win. If their bal­lot title was strong, their idea sound, and the pro­gres­sive move­ment unit­ed behind them, that might be enough, in a pres­i­den­tial year, to sweep to vic­to­ry. How­ev­er, none of those things are true.

If the polling has con­sis­tent­ly shown any­thing, it’s that Repub­li­can and con­ser­v­a­tive vot­ers are hos­tile to I‑732. A few token endorse­ments from the likes of Repub­li­cans Mark Milos­cia and Bill Finkbein­er isn’t going to change that.

Car­bon­WA has repeat­ed­ly alien­at­ed pro­gres­sives — the very peo­ple who most want to address the dam­age to the cli­mate — while fail­ing to attract con­ser­v­a­tives to its cause. Its I‑732 was con­ceived out of the belief that a “rev­enue neu­tral” tax swap would engen­der broad bipar­ti­san sup­port. That’s not hap­pen­ing. The evi­dence sug­gests that the oth­er side’s vot­ers are going to give I‑732 a big thumbs down. And pro­gres­sive vot­ers are like­ly to be split. That’s a recipe for defeat.

Last Decem­ber, Car­bon­WA’s lead­er­ship con­tem­plat­ed not turn­ing in all of their sig­na­tures, and work­ing with the Alliance instead on an alter­na­tive plan. They ulti­mate­ly turned in their sig­na­tures and declared they were in it to win it.

But it looks like they’re going to lose.

Mean­while, Democ­rats are seek­ing to recap­ture the state Sen­ate while hold­ing the House. They need to pick up two Sen­ate seats with­out los­ing any.

If they’re suc­cess­ful, that could set the stage for a 2017 ses­sion in which Gov­er­nor Inslee’s cap and trade pro­pos­al might actu­al­ly get a vote.

Vot­ing in the Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion will begin in two months.

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.

Adjacent posts