by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Three polls released in the past week give supporters of Washington State's new domestic partnership law reason for cautious optimism.
Survey USA, the Washington Poll, and a Washington Families Standing Together poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner all agree that Washington voters are trending toward approving Referendum 71.
Survey USA shows R-71 winning by seven points, Washington Poll by 19 points, and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner by 17 points.
Polls may show widely different results because pollsters construct their samples based on different assumptions about who is likely to vote, because they use different methods to collect data, and because sample sizes may differ.
Several different polls giving similar results can be more predictive of the probable outcome of an election than one single poll.
Comparing consecutive polls by the same polling organization can also be useful in establishing trends in public opinion, and that can be more predictive of probable outcomes than stand-alone polls.
The Survey USA poll, commissioned by KING 5 TV and released Tuesday, October 27, shows 50% saying they will vote to approve R-71 and keep the new domestic partnership law, 43% saying they will reject it, and 7% undecided.
The poll was based on a sample of 561 likely or actual voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2%.
A previous Survey USA poll released October 6 showed 45% approving R-71, 42% rejecting it, and 13% undecided. Comparison of the two polls seems to indicate that undecided voters are breaking towards the Approve side.
WOMEN, YOUNGER VOTERS, SEATTLE RESIDENTS APPROVE
Women heavily support R-71, with 55% saying they will vote to approve and only 37% saying they will reject it. Support among women has increased from the October 6 poll.
Young voters and baby-boomers show the greatest support for domestic partnership rights, and the oldest group of voters shows the greatest opposition.
Voters between 18 and 34 say they will vote to approve R-71 by a margin of 56% to 37%. 52% of baby-boomers 50 to 64 years of age say they will approve R-71 as opposed to 43% who will reject it.
Voters 35 to 49 tend towards the Approve side by a margin of 49% to 43%. Only among voters over 65 does the Reject side come out on top, by a margin of 48% to 43%.
As expected, voters in metropolitan Seattle show the largest margin for R-71 - 55% say they will vote to approve, as opposed to 37% who will vote to reject. According to Survey USA, Metro Seattle voters are expected to make up 51% of the total statewide vote.
Another 26% of the total vote will come from Western Washington excluding Seattle. Among these voters, Approve R-71 leads 52% to 44%.
In Eastern Washington R-71 loses by a margin of 35% to approve as against 54% to reject, but these voters are expected to account for only 23% of the statewide total.
Another finding that might cheer supporters of R-71: Survey USA found that 53% of voters who want to approve R-71 have voted already.
Campaigns typically like their supporters to vote early to insure that no potential votes are lost because ballots have been postmarked after the deadline.
"Every year, thousands of ballots are not counted because people mail them after the last pick-up at the mailbox," Approve 71 Campaign Manager Josh Friedes says. "We urge people not to hold on to their ballots."
This year, all ballots must be postmarked on or before Tuesday, November 3, to be counted.
The Washington Poll, also released on October 27, suggested an even greater margin of victory for R-71, with 57% of the respondents saying they will vote to approve R-71 and only 38% saying they will reject it.
The poll is based on a sample of 724 likely voters, and is conducted by a University of Washington research project. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6%.
"This indicates far-reaching support for same-sex domestic partnerships, and the finding is consistent with our three previous years of polling data," said UW Assistant Political Science Professor Matt Barreto, who leads the poll.
"Referendum 71 appears headed for a large victory in Washington State."
As in the Survey USA poll, the Washington Poll found that women respondents strongly support R-71, 62% saying they will vote to approve it, and only 33% saying they will reject it.
The Washington Poll also found that the youngest voters were the strongest supporters of the domestic partnership law, but unlike Survey USA, it found that a majority in all age categories favors R-71.
According to the Washington Poll, likely voters between 18 and 40 indicate they will approve R-71 by a margin of 64% to 32% opposed. Among voters in the age bracket 41-64, 56% say they will approve R-71, against 40% who will reject it.
However, the Washington Poll found that even among voters over 65, the Approve side wins by a margin of 52% to 42%.
Washington Poll also found that voters in the Puget Sound region were the strongest supporters of R-71, with 60% saying they would vote to approve, and only 35% saying they would reject it.
In Western Washington excluding the Puget Sound area, the Approve side garners 55% of the responses, the Reject side only 40%.
As in the Survey USA poll, voters in Eastern Washington tend to oppose R-71, with 46% saying they will approve it and 49% saying they will vote to reject it.
55% of Washington Poll respondents who favor the Approve side have already voted.
"BOTH GOOD AND CAUTIONARY NEWS"
According to Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a growing number of voters want to approve Referendum 71 and many who were planning to reject it are now undecided.
Of 500 likely voters in their sample, 53% said they will vote to approve R-71 and 36% will vote to reject the measure.
A Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll released in September showed only 51% wanted to approve, as opposed to 44% who would have voted to reject R-71.
"This is both good and cautionary news," said Approve 71 Campaign Chair Anne Levinson. "These results show that when voters understand what the domestic partnership law is - and the many families who will be harmed if it is repealed - they will vote to approve it."
MORE GOOD NEWS
Survey USA and the Washington Poll announced additional good news for progressives: King County Executive candidate Dow Constantine now leads his opponent Susan Hutchison after trailing for most of the campaign.
According to the Washington Poll, 47% of their respondents favored Constantine, and only 34% favored Hutchison. In Seattle, polling showed a Constantine landslide - 70% of likely voters from Seattle said "we're with Dow," and only 21% said they would vote for Hutchison.
Survey USA's KING 5 poll also showed I-1033, the latest Tim Eyman product, losing support as the election campaign wraps up.
Survey USA used a "split ballot" poll in which about half of the 561 respondents heard the exact ballot language, and the other half heard a summary of Eyman's initiative. This was intended to duplicate actual voting conditions, where some voters read the ballot language very carefully, while others rely on information summarized by the media.
Of those who heard the summary, 39% are certain to vote Yes, and 49% are certain to vote No. Of those who heard the exact ballot language, 38% are certain to vote Yes, 51% are certain to vote No.
When these populations are combined, the outcome is 38% Yes, 50% No, and 12% not yet certain.
Forty percent of voters interviewed in this poll have already voted. I-1033 trails among those who have already voted and among those who have not yet voted but say they will do so before November 3.
Survey USA's October 6 poll showed I-1033 ahead by 13 points.
The Washington Poll also showed I-1033 likely to go down to defeat, with 49% of their respondents saying they will vote No, only 40% saying Yes, and 10% undecided. Of those who had already voted, 56% voted No and 44% Yes.
Washington Poll also showed Seattle mayoral candidate Joe Mallahan increasing his lead over opponent Mike McGinn. Among likely voters, 44% of the respondents favored Mallahan and 36% favored McGinn.
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