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October 29, 2010

Murray leads Rossi, voters against income tax, new KCTS 9/KPLU/Washington Poll shows

A survey of registered voters in Washington state shows incumbent Patty Murray four percentage points ahead of former state Sen. Dino Rossi in the race for U.S. Senate, down from eight points two weeks ago. The KCTS 9/KPLU/Washington Poll also showed voters continuing their focus on the economy, with the majority intending to vote against a state income tax.

The survey, led by Matt Barreto, a University of Washington professor of political science, also indicates 70 percent of registered voters in Washington will likely cast ballots.

Among likely voters, Murray had a six-point lead. Fifty-one percent of those voters said they plan to vote for Murray, a Democrat, compared with 45 percent for Rossi, a Republican. Murray got strongest approval from people earning less than $60,000 per year (63 percent), people 18-39 (59 percent) and people who favor Initiative 1098, which would place an income tax on the state’s highest earners but reduce property taxes (82 percent).

Rossi attracted highest approval from conservatives (92 percent), opponents of I-1098 (76 percent) and those who disapprove of the health bill passed by Congress earlier this year (83 percent). Among independent voters, Rossi had a small lead, 46 to 41 percent; however, among self-described moderates, Murray had a 54 to 38 percent lead.

Taxes, repairing the economy, jobs and unemployment topped the list of general issues most important to voters — the same top issues in a KCTS 9/KPLU/Washington Poll earlier this month.

Among likely voters, opponents of I-1098 outnumber those in favor 54 percent to 43 percent. The measure would institute an income tax on individuals earning more than $200,000 annually or households earning more than $400,000 annually, and it also would reduce both state property taxes and the business and occupation tax.

The poll shows I-1098 has drawn significant voter attention: 34 percent of those surveyed said they had followed the issue “moderately closely,” 27 percent “very closely” and 14 percent “extremely closely.”

Initiative 1107, which would end some taxes on candy, soda and bottled water, was favored by 57 percent of likely voters. By comparison, 40 percent would continue the taxes.

Asked whether they would require tax increases by the state Legislature to be approved by a two-thirds majority, 60 percent said yes, 29 percent said no.

Initiative 1100, which would privatize alcohol sales, remains a close race. Survey results indicated 49 percent in favor, 47 against, with 1 percent undecided.

Asked about repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which would allow gays to serve openly in the military, 60 percent of those surveyed approved, 23 percent disapproved.

Voters blamed former President George W. Bush more than President Barack Obama for the country’s economic troubles: 57 percent said Bush is responsible, 33 percent said Obama.

The majority of voters, 57 percent, favored a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently residing in the U.S.

Survey workers called 500 cellular and landline telephone numbers of registered voters from Oct. 18 to Oct. 28. Sampling error margin is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

The pool of likely voters included 695 Washington state residents who were polled in two waves, Oct. 5 to 14 and Oct. 18 to 28. The margin of error for the “likely voters” survey is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. “Likely voters” are determined by their official voting records for 2006 and 2008 as well as self-reported interest in the 2010 election.

Funds for the study came from Seattle public television station KCTS 9, Seattle public radio station KPLU and the UW.

Additional survey data is at http://www.washingtonpoll.org .


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For more information, contact Barreto at 206-616-3584 or 909-489-2955 or mbarreto@uw.edu . Loren Collingwood, senior researcher for the study, can be reached at 202-744-4060 or lorenc2@uw.edu .