Latest poll: Charter schools, same-sex marriage lead; governor race in virtual tie

Oct 18, 2012

Voters in Washington are likely to approve two ballot measures that have failed in the past. A new poll shows both charter schools and same-sex marriage are leading by healthy margins.

The KCTS 9 Washington Poll also shows a statistical tie in the Governor’s race between Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna.  

The poll released Thursday showed Inslee with a 47.9 percent to 44.7 percent lead. Among likely voters, Inlsee leads by less than one percent -- 47.1% to 46.3% -- over McKenna, with a margin of error of 3.9%.

The poll, conducted by the University of Washington, shows the same-sex marriage referendum has support from 53% of likely voters -- after adjusting for the fact that people often lie to pollsters on this issue.

The poll also shows the charter schools Initiative-1240 leading 47.5% to 39.2% among all registered voters, and marijuana legalization I-502 leading 50.9% to 40.8%. 

Initiative 1185, which would limit taxes, leads among registered voters by 53.6% to 31.2%. 

The biggest surprise - legalizing pot

Marijuana legalization could be the biggest surprise, says pollster and University of Washington political science professor Matt Barreto. Unlike the other charter schools and same-sex marriage, it's on the ballot for the first time, and it would bring a radical change to laws and what some consider a moral issue. Yet, it has a big lead.

"So far, we haven't seen a huge 'No' campaign on the marijuana initiative. So, it could be a perfect storm, where there's not a huge No, they've lined up a couple of sheriffs and law enforcement folks to endorse the initiative, so that could be the big surprise," says Barreto.

The governor's race is tight enough, with relatively few undecided voters, that the blitz of advertising during the final weeks might not matter, says Barreto.

"I don’t think it’s the ads that will influence this. It will be the ground game, who can get their votes out, who can get people to mail those ballots in," he says. "Whoever does that will be the next governor."

The telephone survey was done from Oct. 1-16 of a total of 782 registered voters across the state, 644 of whom were considered likely voters. The margin of error for all voters is 3.5 percent; for likely voters, 3.9 percent.