The October Elway Poll of 405 registered voters, conducted October 16-19 shows Gov. Chris Gregoire leading Republican challenger Dino Rossi by a 51 to 39 percent margin, up slightly from Elway’s 50-42 September results. The Elway Poll has been unique throughout the year in showing Gregoire with a substantial advantage; most other recent polls have shown the race well within the margin of error.
It is interesting to note that the much anticipated “Obama/Rossi” voter is not materializing in the Elway Poll. Elway found 8% of Obama voters planning to vote for Rossi. But they also found 8% of McCain voters planning to vote for Gregoire. Obama, by the way, was found to be preferred by 55 to 36 percent margin.
And perhaps a very significant observation by Elway in his comments:
“Gregoire has an edge on values among those who care most about those issues. Gregoire is seen as Moderate Liberal. Rossi is seen as conservative. He wasn’t in 2004.”
If that is true, and Rossi goes on to lose, that shift in perception will explain this election in a nutshell. Conservative Republicans simply can’t win statewide if voters understand them to be conservative.