June 2022 legislative control poll finding
Visualization of NPI's June 2022 legislative control poll finding

A major­i­ty of like­ly 2022 vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton State favor con­tin­ued Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­trol of the Leg­is­la­ture fol­low­ing the loom­ing midterms, up from a plu­ral­i­ty in Feb­ru­ary, a statewide sur­vey con­duct­ed for NPI last week has found.

51% of 1,039 like­ly vot­ers said they pre­ferred a Demo­c­ra­t­ic-run State House and Sen­ate Sen­ate, while 42% said they’d rather have divid­ed gov­ern­ment with Repub­li­cans in con­trol of the Leg­is­la­ture. 7% said they were not sure.

In a pre­vi­ous statewide poll con­duct­ed for NPI in Feb­ru­ary, 49% said they pre­ferred Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­trol of the Leg­is­la­ture, while 44% said they pre­ferred Repub­li­can con­trol. This new find­ing — a four-point shift in Democ­rats’ favor — along with our find­ings regard­ing the U.S. Sen­ate race and the con­gres­sion­al gener­ic bal­lot sug­gests that enthu­si­asm is build­ing for Democ­rats in Wash­ing­ton State, despite Repub­li­can claims that 2022 is going to be a great year for them.

June 2022 legislative control poll finding
Visu­al­iza­tion of NPI’s June 2022 leg­isla­tive con­trol poll finding

Spend any amount of time lis­ten­ing to Repub­li­can Par­ty offi­cials, like top House Repub­li­can J.T. Wilcox or top Sen­ate Repub­li­can John Braun, and it’s easy to see that they are bull­ish — well, at least pub­licly — about their prospects this autumn.

J.T. Wilcox, for exam­ple, occa­sion­al­ly tweets pho­tos from can­di­date kick­offs and brags about how Democ­rats failed to recruit any­one to run in Repub­li­can dis­tricts like the 15th, while con­ve­nient­ly fail­ing to men­tion his cau­cus is not field­ing any­one in Demo­c­ra­t­ic dis­tricts like the 33rd or the 43rd this year.

Repub­li­cans con­tend that Wash­ing­to­ni­ans are fed up with one par­ty rule in Wash­ing­ton, and eager for a change in Olympia. They feel that angst on cost of liv­ing and pub­lic safe­ty is some­thing they can exploit. They’ve also argued that Gov­er­nor Inslee has abused his pow­er to the state’s detri­ment and that vot­ers are hun­gry — no, make that des­per­ate — for a Repub­li­can check on his authority.

Our research sug­gests otherwise.

We asked a neu­tral ques­tion of a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple and most respon­dents said they’d rather have a Demo­c­ra­t­ic House and Sen­ate than a Repub­li­can one.

Here’s the exact text of that ques­tion and the answers we received:

QUESTION: Who do you want to see in con­trol of the Wash­ing­ton State House and the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate in Olympia after the next elec­tion: the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty or the Repub­li­can Party?


  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty: 51% (+2% since February)
  • Repub­li­can Par­ty: 42% (-2% since February)
  • Not sure: 7%

Our sur­vey of 1,039 like­ly 2022 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, June 1st through Thurs­day, June 2nd, 2022.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (50%) and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents (50%).

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.0% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

More infor­ma­tion about the survey’s method­ol­o­gy is avail­able here.

Any Repub­li­cans read­ing this who are smart enough to refrain from dis­miss­ing our research sim­ply because it does­n’t sup­port their nar­ra­tives might be won­der­ing, how on earth can vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton State be grav­i­tat­ing to the Democ­rats right now!? After all, the con­ven­tion­al wis­dom is that the par­ty that holds the White House usu­al­ly takes a bath in the midterms. And, to Repub­li­cans’ dis­may, Democ­rats have had a state­house tri­fec­ta in Wash­ing­ton State for five years.

But that tri­fec­ta has been get­ting results.

After flip­ping the Sen­ate with Man­ka Dhin­gra in 2017, Democ­rats went on to pass many con­se­quen­tial new laws. In the last half-decade, Democ­rats have levied a cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy to fund edu­ca­tion and child­care, made it eas­i­er to vote and reg­is­ter to vote with pre­paid postage and auto­mat­ic vot­er reg­is­tra­tion, strength­ened gun safe­ty by ban­ning high capac­i­ty mag­a­zines, bump stocks, and ghost guns, pro­vid­ed for com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion across the state, as well as enact the most cli­mate and tran­sit friend­ly trans­porta­tion pack­age in mod­ern his­to­ry: Move Ahead Washington.

Repub­li­cans opposed these pri­or­i­ties — often bit­ter­ly — but our research and research by oth­er orga­ni­za­tions have con­sis­tent­ly found that the poli­cies the Leg­is­la­ture has adopt­ed are pop­u­lar with vot­ers. Vot­ers sent Democ­rats to Olympia to get results, and they have deliv­ered, ses­sion after session.

What would hap­pen in 2023–2024 if the Leg­is­la­ture had Repub­li­can majori­ties instead — or even a sin­gle cham­ber con­trolled by the Repub­li­can Party?

In a word: grid­lock.

The last time Repub­li­cans had a Sen­ate major­i­ty, they turned the cham­ber into a grave­yard of progress. They reg­u­lar­ly ran out the clock and forced the Leg­is­la­ture into spe­cial ses­sion to increase their lever­age in bud­get negotiations.

Let’s run through a sam­pling of cur­rent press­ing issues and con­tem­plate what a Repub­li­can-con­trolled Leg­is­la­ture would mean for each.

Budgets and revenue

A Repub­li­can Leg­is­la­ture would attempt to cut tax­es for the wealthy while using aus­ter­i­ty mea­sures to try to force the defund­ing of Wash­ing­ton’s already under­fund­ed essen­tial pub­lic ser­vices. Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee would be able to use his line item veto pow­er to delete some bad bud­get pro­vi­sions, but he would­n’t be able to cre­ate or increase appro­pri­a­tions that don’t exist.

Any pos­si­bil­i­ty of fur­ther improve­ments to Wash­ing­ton’s tax code to make it fair­er and less regres­sive would evap­o­rate for the dura­tion of Repub­li­can control.

Reproductive rights

In today’s Repub­li­can Par­ty, there is no such thing as a Jen­nifer Dunn Repub­li­can any­more. Even Dun­n’s son, Rea­gan Dunn, has been vot­ing against repro­duc­tive rights late­ly. To our knowl­edge, there isn’t a sin­gle pro-repro­duc­tive rights Repub­li­can left in either the House or Sen­ate Repub­li­can cau­cus­es. They all believe that the right to ter­mi­nate a preg­nan­cy should be tak­en away.

A Repub­li­can Leg­is­la­ture could be expect­ed to send Gov­er­nor Inslee mul­ti­ple bills to weak­en or restrict access to abor­tion care, even though J.T. Wilcox and John Braun insist that is not a pri­or­i­ty issue for their caucuses.


Repub­li­cans would try to divert fund­ing from under­fund­ed pub­lic schools to pri­vate­ly run schools if they had con­trol of the Leg­is­la­ture. They’d also like­ly attempt to engage in union-bust­ing schemes to go after polit­i­cal foes like the Wash­ing­ton Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion and AFT Wash­ing­ton, which rep­re­sent edu­ca­tors and which stand in the way of their pri­va­ti­za­tion dreams.

Gun safety

Repub­li­cans have uni­form­ly opposed most bills to pro­tect Wash­ing­to­ni­ans from the scourge of gun vio­lence. If Repub­li­cans gain con­trol of the Leg­is­la­ture, there would be no pos­si­bil­i­ty of pass­ing a ban on mil­i­tary-style assault weapons in the 2023 ses­sion. A Repub­li­can Leg­is­la­ture could be expect­ed to try to roll back the already passed ban on high-capac­i­ty mag­a­zines and rescind vot­er approved mea­sures like I‑1639, which was resound­ing­ly adopt­ed in 2018.

Climate justice

Many Repub­li­cans believe that the cli­mate cri­sis is a hoax, and are uncon­cerned about cli­mate dam­age. A Repub­li­can Leg­is­la­ture would try to under­mine the state’s new cap and invest sys­tem as well as block­ing any pro­pos­als to accel­er­ate a tran­si­tion to a just and respon­si­ble clean ener­gy future. A Repub­li­can Leg­is­la­ture would also be very def­er­en­tial to lob­by­ists for major polluters.

Fur­ther changes to the law need­ed to bet­ter pro­tect Wash­ing­ton from threats like drought, wild­fires, and extreme weath­er would not get made. This would pre­vent Wash­ing­ton from being a state that leads on cli­mate justice.

Voting rights

Wash­ing­ton’s sys­tem of vot­ing at home would come under assault in a Repub­li­can Leg­is­la­ture, and debunked con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries would have a big­ger plat­form from which to spread. Many Repub­li­cans have intro­duced or voiced sup­port for bills aimed at end­ing uni­ver­sal vote at home and insti­tut­ing dis­crim­i­na­to­ry schemes such as vot­er ID. Their pro­pos­als would­n’t get past Gov­er­nor Inslee’s veto pen, but they would con­sume valu­able pub­lic resources nevertheless.

Public safety

Repub­li­cans would try to undo the work pre­vi­ous­ly done by the Leg­is­la­ture to com­bat racism and cor­rup­tion in our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. They would dou­ble down on mass incar­cer­a­tion and schemes like three strikes. That would put more Wash­ing­to­ni­ans at risk of becom­ing vic­tims of police mis­con­duct and police bru­tal­i­ty. There would be no pos­si­bil­i­ty of fur­ther changes to the law to make Wash­ing­ton a safer place for com­mu­ni­ties of col­or to thrive.

Concluding thoughts

With­out con­trol of the gov­er­nor’s man­sion, Repub­li­cans would not be able to get most of the extreme­ly bad right wing poli­cies they want enact­ed into law.

But they would be able to stymie progress on pret­ty much every issue. With con­trol over the Leg­is­la­ture’s com­mit­tees, they’d decide what bills get heard and which ones did­n’t. They’d be writ­ing the state’s bien­ni­al and sup­ple­men­tal bud­gets, and they’d decide which agen­cies’ deci­sion pack­ages were wor­thy of being act­ed on. They would have a lot of pow­er they don’t cur­rent­ly have.

At least right now, our polling indi­cates that a major­i­ty of vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton would rather stick with proven Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nance than exper­i­ment anew with divid­ed gov­ern­ment… an exper­i­ment that would assured­ly lead to dys­func­tion and pre­vent the state from becom­ing more social­ly and eco­nom­i­cal­ly inclusive.

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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