Washington State Polls: While Obama Leads, the State May be Getting Less Liberal


With pundits predicting Romney will win the presidential election, some of the more liberal states are expected to swing back a little to the right in state-level races and ballot initiatives. In Washington State, for example, the Republican candidate for governor, Attorney General Rob McKenna, has a good chance at beating Democrat Jay Inslee. Inslee is ahead of McKenna by 3 points in polls, which is within the margin of error. Further, the liberal Seattle Times has not only endorsed McKenna, but is actively campaigning for him with political ads.

One of the most contentious issues on the ballot this year is gay marriage. Whenever gay marriage has been on the ballot, it has been voted down, for a total of over 30 times. However this year, gay marriage is on the ballot in four more liberal states: Washington, Maryland, Minnesota and Maine. In Maine, an initiative to legalize gay marriage is currently passing by a 13-point margin, while Maryland polls show it passing by 14 to 20 points. However, Minnesota's initiative, which is also currently set to pass, skews in the opposite direction and reaffirms that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Washington state polls show Referendum 74, which legalizes gay marriage, may narrowly pass. In 2009, Washington voters upheld a domestic partnership law by a 7-point margin. The polling company responsible for most of these polls has admitted whenever people say they are undecided on gay marriage, they usually vote against it, meaning its chances at passing are much tighter than they may appear. If gay marriage passes, it will be by a very slim margin.

The other contentious issue on Washington's ballot is legalizing marijuana. Washington has already legalized marijuana for medical use, making it very easy for anyone to obtain marijuana. I-502 would treat marijuana like alcohol, heavily taxing and regulating it. The initiative has a substantial lead in the polls, but that lead could evaporate once the undecideds vote. Like gay marriage, the undecideds tend to break to vote no.

Romney will lose the state of Washington, but not by much. One of the more liberal polling companies has him down by 7 points, which means the truth is he's down a few points less than that. Washington may not swing fully over to the right, but it will likely move back a bit from the left, thanks to the economic devastation wrought by Obama.