Washington Poll: generic Republican poses tougher challenge than Rossi

The much anticipated and widely respected Washington Poll came out today with numbers that really don’t look all that bad for a Democratic Party allegedly facing a Big Red Wave™.

In the closely watched U.S. Senate race, the poll has incumbent Democratic Sen. Patty Murray leading maybe-challenger Dino Rossi 44-40, a slightly wider margin than the 42-39 spread she scores against a generic Republican opponent. Yeah, that’s not as wide a lead as Murray supporters would like to see, but it doesn’t show much strength for Rossi either, who, after all, Washington state voters already know quite well. One of the downsides to Rossi’s much touted name ID, it turns out, is that many voters have already developed an unfavorable impression of him.

Furthermore, at 51%, the poll finds Murray’s job approval above that magic 50% mark, and significantly higher than both Gov. Chris Gregoire and AG Rob McKenna, the other two statewide elected officials surveyed.

A whopping 62% of respondents list “Jobs/Economy” as their most important concern in 2010, which as a successful businessman profiting handsomely off the foreclosure crisis, I’m sure Rossi would attempt to make his number one issue. Or something. But with only 6% of voters listing “Taxes,” the usual Republican boogeyman, as their number one concern, that leaves the door open for Murray to campaign on the impressive amount of jobs and dollars she brings to the state through her seniority and appropriations prowess.

I mean, if folks are going to vote their wallet, there’s a much more compelling argument to make for Murray’s legislative accomplishments than for Rossi’s anti-tax/anti-government ideology. I’m just sayin’.

Update [Darryl] — I’ve done some further analyses of the Murray—Rossi match-up and examine the public polling in this race.


  1. 1

    notaboomer spews:

    does it really matter who takes credit for boeing and tech “jobs” while delivering taxpayer dollars to private corporations to provide “security,” entertainment, and war?

    vote tweedle dee. clearly better than tweedle dum.

  2. 2

    Alki Postings spews:

    Fair, but “generic” Republican or Democrat ALWAYS polls higher when comparing any candidates (national or state). People are much more likely to support a conceptual Republican or Democrat than a specific person with all their flaws and weaknesses.

    #1 And fair but cynical point. In “reality” the vast vast majority of tax dollars (state) go for REALLY boring stuff, not sexy cool things we like to argue over. They go for roads, sidewalks, sewers, schools, libraries, etc. I think this is why people LOVE to find sex, drugs or corruption in politics, because otherwise it’s very boring (to most) technical job about finances and priorities. Unless you can argue about someone giving a blowjob, discussing community meetings and zoning regulation is just tedious to most folks.

  3. 3

    Michael spews:

    It’ll be Murray V. Benton in the fall and Murray will pull off a comfortable win. It’s a pretty snoozeville election.

  4. 4

    Steve spews:

    “One of the downsides to Rossi’s much touted name ID, it turns out, is that many voters have already developed an unfavorable impression of him.”

    It takes only so many losses for one to be seen as a loser, and that’s not a great impression to make with an electorate. Worse, any closer examination or reflection reveals him to be a whining loser. If there’s anything worse than being viewed as a political loser, being viewed as a whining political loser has to be one of them. Throw in his filthy associations with this and that and it only gets worse. I suspect that the poll’s 44 – 40 results reflect only that first “loser” impression with no deeper thought given. Toss in a campaign season of “whining loser with issues” attack ads, and I bet he loses by more than a four point spread.

  5. 5

    Zotz spews:

    Also in the poll:

    52% of us are fine with police stopping people to confirm immigration status (AZ law). Note that when it’s described as “profiling”, support goes way down.

    52% approve legalizing pot (35% don’t). 52% also approve privatizing liquor sales. 1068 is a shoo-in if it gets on the ballot. However, privatizing the state stores (if it’s on the ballot) removes the most “sensible” way of managing sales — and collecting taxes.

    60% want a 2/3rds leg majority to raise taxes (But 49% approve of the taxes raised last leg session). 960 passed by just under 52% as I recall, so scary…

    Powerpoint summary (via Publicola) here:


  6. 7

    Steve spews:

    @6 Accurate enough. Polling has shown that over 50% of Washington voters identify as Dems or lean that way, only 34% as Republicans. Did you think the poll should be 50-50 or something? heh- It might be that way if Republicans didn’t suck so much more than Democrats.

  7. 8

    Dr. Dre spews:

    @5…correction: 60% of people want taxes raised on other people, not themselves. The majority of that 60% probably pays no income taxes at all anyway.

    another example of the lazy and the stupid wanting free shit – paid for by other people of course.

  8. 9

    correctnotright spews:

    @9: correction: I guess the idiot dre doesn’t understand the concept of democracy.

    You see Dre (you should have learned this in third grade, but you must not have gotten that far), our country was founded on certain principles – such as the rich should not be the only people to vote.

    So everyones vote counts equally – and that is what the poll is measuring.

    Also, I pay taxes and I sure as hell did not want over 1 trillion of my tax dollars going to an unnecessary war in Iraq.

    Where were you to protest that massive loss of money and all the graft that went to the military contractor friends of Cheney – or did you conveniently forget that?

  9. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “it doesn’t show much strength for Rossi either, who, after all, Washington state voters already know quite well”

    That’s his problem — the better you know him, the less likely you are to vote for him. Working for a crook who steals from widows and orphans doesn’t improve your electability.

  10. 11

    eponymous coward spews:

    Dino Rossi: when you can’t make a souffle rise twice, try it a third time.

    The only way Dino’s going to win a Republican primary is by dialing the Teabagger crazy to 11 and making it clear he thinks Obama is evil incarnate. This is in a state that Obama won by quite a lot, and still does OK in.

    I mean, hell, Susie H had to really try and blur the lines ala Rossi-2004 style, didn’t have to identify as a Republican, and she got STOMPED. How Rossi and his brain trust think this is going to work in a partisan election where Patty Murray has routinely stomped the competition… nah, I don’t see it.

  11. 12

    rhp6033 spews:

    Dr. Dre @ # 8 says: “another example of the lazy and the stupid wanting free shit – paid for by other people of course.”

    Just had dinner at our house with some Republicans after church last Sunday. Of the nine other people there (other than my wife and I), all complained that their federal income taxes were too high.

    (1) But one then also complained that her refund, which constituted ALL of her withheld taxes, was retained by the IRS because her ex-husband hadn’t paid their tax bill from a few years back – when they were still married.

    (2) Five of those attending admitted that because they were unemployed for at least part of the last year, they actually didn’t pay any federal income taxes at all – it was all refunded to them.

    (3) Two others admitted that they paid only a few hundred dollars in federal income taxes last year, which they still felt was too much “considering their situation”.

    (4) Aside from myself and my wife, the only person who paid more than a thousand dollars in federal income taxes was my son – who is single and is currently making pretty good wages. He’s working on buying a house very soon so he can shelter some of that income under the mortgage interest deduction.

    Which brings up the fact that lots of very wealthy people, presumably not “lazy” or “stupid” under your definition, pay little or no taxes due to the various benefits they get under the tax code – including the mortgage interest deduction, not only against their principle residence, but also vacation properties.

  12. 13

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 11: Remember that Washington is a “Top Two” state, Rossi doesn’t have to compete with other Republicans for the primary. He only has to do a little bit better than Clint Diddier.

    But your point is right, in that in the General Election he is going to have to count on that wingnut vote as his “base”. That might be hard for him to do this year, especially if it means he has to criticize Didier and his principle endorser, Sarah Palin.

  13. 14


    Just a guy @ 6,

    “Gee. 20% more democrat responses over Republican. (35 to 28) Talk about accuracy.”

    That pretty accurately reflects the partisan make-up of Washington state. By comparison, this recent Survey USA poll gives:

    Republican …. 25%
    Democrat …… 37%
    Independent… 31%
    Other……………. 7%

    The Washington Poll gives:

    Republican …. 28%
    Democrat …… 35%
    Independent… 32%
    Other……………. 5%

    The numbers are almost identical!

  14. 15

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 14: Actually, by your numbers, it actually understates the Democratic representation slightly. It borrows two points from the Democrats, and gives them to the Republicans. It also takes two points from the “other” category, and splits then evenly between the Republican and Independent categories.

    But this is quibling, of course, it certainly shows that the sampling was about as accurate as you can make it.

  15. 16


    rhp6033 @ 15,

    Both sets of numbers come from samples of the population. Therefore they both have sampling error. The magnitude of the differences easily falls within the plausible range of the joint sampling error.