Good polling news in Washington state (2005 election)

Washington state doesn't elect statewide offices in off-years, but there are still some semi-big races to keep an eye on.

First and foremost is the race for King County Executive. (King County is the location of Seattle, and contains 1.74 million people, making it bigger than many states. It's not as uniformly liberal as Seattle, as it also contains a lot of affluent moderate suburbs and a fair number of rural/exurban rednecks.) Current executive Ron Sims (D) is in a tight race with exurban county councilor David Irons (R). Sims won his last two elections by blowouts, but this one is tight... not so much because Irons is a strong candidate.

Sims' problems are partly self-inflicted (he's managed to piss everyone off at some point, ranging from the rural dwellers by enacting some of the nation's most stringent land use laws, to rich Seattleites by proposing to allow Southwest Airlines to start flying out of close-in Boeing Field and thus right over their expensive houses), partly driven by right-wing smearing (he's taken heat for not doing enough firing of King County elections officials in the wake of ballot mishandling in the super-close 2004 gubernatorial election... despite the fact that a number of smaller rural counties had higher ballot error rates, percentage-wise), partly by general Sims fatigue (he's already had two and a half terms), and partly by the presence of a Green party candidate who's sucking up 7-8% of the vote in polls.

Survey USA has polled the race twice. On 10/17 Irons was leading 46-43-7 with a 4.4% MoE. On 10/31, Sims was back in the lead, 48-41-8 with a 4.1% MoE. So the question is, is that standard fluctation within a big margin of error, or did something change? Well, there have been recent allegations that Irons isn't quite the mild-mannered moderate that he claims, but also a resume-paddingmother-beater. Either way, this race is going to remain close down to the wire.

Also noteworthy is Initiative 912, which is an attempt to repeal the supplemental gas tax of something like 5 cents per gallon. Usually, any initiative to limit a particularly nickel-dimey tax, especially anything transportation related, is a slam dunk in Washington. And the right has been framing this a vote for this as a way to vote directly against Governor Gregoire, since she had the temerity to not only a) contest and win the election but b) strong-arm the legislature into raising gas taxes so that, y'know, our bridges and viaducts don't fall down in the next earthquake. Nevertheless, Survey USA shows the initiative failing 44-50 on 11/1 with a 3.7% MoE. I don't know if that'll hold (it's the kind of poll question where people tend to give the civic-minded answer to the pollster and then make the self-interested vote in the privacy of the voting booth), but it too is a good sign.

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