There has been some crowing over on the right-wing blogs about a recent Rasmussen Poll that showed Dino Rossi beating Maria Cantwell in a hypothetical match-up, 47% to 44%.
The poll also showed favorable ratings of Rossi 55%, Cantwell 54%, and Gregoire 50%. And on the issue of who really got the most votes in November’s gubernatorial election, 42% of respondents said Gregoire, 44% said Rossi, and 15% didn’t know.
Now I know my righty readers will accuse me of spin, but you know what…? As a partisan Democrat, I honestly don’t think those numbers look so bad.
Put aside the question for a moment of whether this was, or was not, a legitimate election, and you have to admit that Washington voters have been subjected to an intense and unprecedented propaganda campaign promoting the latter. And yet, after months of allegation after allegation that Gregoire and the Democrats stole this election through incompetence and/or fraud, public opinion on its legitimacy is well within the +/- 4.5% margin of error, and Gregoire’s favorables rank a couple points higher than her performance on election day.
With every day Gregoire holds the governor’s mansion, with every GOP defeat in the courts, and with every debunking of an allegation… the election contest becomes little more than partisan white noise. As it stands, Republican-leaning Rasmussen (Tim Eyman’s favorite polling company) already shows public opinion on the election and the candidates virtually split along the same lines as November. While I’m sure the contest will energize some of Rossi’s true believers during his 2008 rematch, for the general public that election will be a referendum on Gregoire’s job performance, not on a four-year-old election dispute.
I’m not saying the highly public election contest hasn’t negatively impacted Gregoire at all… just not nearly as much as I would have imagined, and surely not as much as Republicans would have hoped for.
If there’s any alarming data coming out of this poll, it is Maria Cantwell’s relative weakness… but that’s not such a surprise. Still 54% approval ain’t so bad, and the match-up with Rossi is purely hypothetical. As I’ve said before, I don’t expect him to run for the Senate.
So Republicans can crow all they want about these poll numbers. But they may end up eating a little crow come the actual elections.