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October 21, 2010

New survey shows voters oppose income tax, favor Murray over Rossi

Washington state voters are focused on jobs and the economy, and they’re anti-tax, according to a new survey that also shows incumbent Patty Murray ahead of former state Sen. Dino Rossi in the race for the U.S. Senate.

The KCTS 9/ KPLU/Washington Poll of 500 registered voters shows 50 percent for Murray, a Democrat, compared with 42 percent for Rossi, a Republican, and 8 percent undecided.

Those surveyed also opposed the three ballot measures that would directly affect taxes, and chose jobs, unemployment and fixing the economy as their top issues in this year’s election. The largest number, 47 percent, said things in Washington state are “seriously on the wrong track.”

Fifty-one percent of voters said they plan to reject Initiative 1098, while 42 percent favor the measure, which would institute an income tax on individuals earning more than $200,000 or households earning more than $400,000 per year. The measure also would reduce state property taxes by 20 percent and lower the business and occupation tax, directing revenues to state health and education.

Fifty-six percent of voters said they favor Initiative 1107, which would end some sales taxes on candy, soda and bottled water that the Legislature approved earlier this year. By comparison, 36 percent said they’d continue the taxes.

Fifty-seven percent said they favor reinstating the law that tax increases must be approved by two-thirds in each house of the Legislature or approved in a state referendum. The initiative would also reinstate a requirement that new or increased fees must be approved by a majority vote in both houses. By comparison, 30 percent of voters said they would not require such a supermajority.

In multiple ballot measures, Washington voters have said yes to the two-thirds rule, but state lawmakers have suspended it when tight budgets lead them to raise taxes, as happened earlier this year.

Asked which political party they prefer to guide the economy, 42 percent said Democrats compared with 35 percent who said Republicans. Seventeen percent said neither.

Asked which of the last two presidents is more responsible for the country’s financial troubles, 54 percent chose President George W. Bush while 35 percent said President Barack Obama.

On Initiative 1100, opinions were close: 47 percent would privatize alcohol sales, 49 percent would not. Hard alcohol can be sold only by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, but the initiative would allow sales at grocery and other stores where beer and wine are already sold.

Asked about illegal immigrants, 50 percent of voters said they would allow citizenship, but only if the immigrants meet certain requirements such as working and paying back taxes. Another 26 percent favored guest worker programs, but 14 percent would have illegal immigrants declared felons and deported.

On the issue of same-sex marriage, 38 percent said gay and lesbian couples should have the same right to marry as straight couples, 29 percent said they should have the same legal rights but not marriage, 11 percent favored domestic partnerships that give such couples some benefits and protections of marriage, and 16 percent said there should be no legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples.

The tea party received strong approval from 19 percent of voters compared with strong disapproval from 25 percent.

Survey workers called both cell and land-line telephone numbers from Oct. 5 to Oct. 14. Sampling error margin is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points. Funds for the study came from KCTS 9, KPLU and the UW.

Additional data can be found here. The next poll results will be released Oct. 29.