Poll: Washington voters split on governor, but want legal pot and gay marriage

A Feb. 22 poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that the Washington gubernatorial race is much closer than local polls suggest. The poll also reveals that Washington State residents are in favor of legalizing marijuana and in favor of the same-sex marriage bill passed recently in the state.

According to PPP's findings, Democratic challenger Jay Inslee and current Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, are tied at 42 percent each, with 16 percent of voters undecided. Approximately one-third of Washington state voters do not know enough about either candidate to form an opinion. PPP's survey found that 36 percent hold a favorable view of Inslee, 28 percent hold an unfavorable view, with 36 percent not sure. For McKenna, 39 percent view him in a favorable light, 29 percent unfavorable, and 32 percent not sure.

In a survey conducted in May, PPP found about the same breakdown, indicating the last poll had 38 percent supporting Inslee, 40 percent with McKenna and 22 percent not sure.

"Washington appears to be headed for a close state election this fall," said PPP president Dean Debnam. "The governor's race, the gay marriage repeal and marijuana legalization issues all appear to be things voters are pretty evenly divided about. That should compensate for the lack of a competitive presidential race in the state."

PPP found that Initiative 502, which seeks to decriminalize marijuana and allow for its sale and regulation, would pass, with 47 percent of voters favoring it, compared to 39 percent opposing. If a gay marriage referendum is put on the ballot, Washington state voters would approve it, with a breakdown of 50 percent for, and 46 percent against, according to PPP's data.

The data was collected from 1,264 Washington state voters between Feb. 16-19. The margin of error for the survey was +/-2.76 percent, according to PPP. The polling group notes that this survey was not paid for by any specific campaign or political organization. PPP also notes that although it is a Democrat-affiliated organization, a study of its findings by a New York Times polling expert showed that the PPP actually exhibits a slight bias toward Republican candidates.


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