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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

July 24, 2012 at 1:51 PM

Elway Poll indicates some ballot measures in trouble

A new poll by Stuart Elway suggests most of the major measures on the November ballot could be in trouble.

While the measures on same-sex marriage, tax limits, charter schools and marijuana legalization are leading in the polls, only one of them – Tim Eyman’s initiative requiring a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to increase taxes – polled over 50 percent.

“Because support typically fades as the campaign goes on, a ballot measure needs to be polling at 60 percent or better at the start of the summer to still have a majority in November,” Elway wrote.

The exception to that rule may be Eyman’s Initiative 1185, which reaffirms an existing law requiring a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to increase taxes, or voter approval, he said. Elway’s poll showed it leading with 56 percent in favor and to 30 percent opposed.

“There have been times when the tax limitation measures beat the early polls,” Elway said in an interview. “They get better at the end.”

The poll found that 49 percent of voters surveyed planned to vote yes on the gay marriage measure, Referendum 74, while 39 percent would reject it. A yes vote would approve the Legislature’s legalization of same-sex marriage.

Elway said voter confusion over whether a yes vote affirms or rejects gay marriage could be costing the measure support. When voters were asked a follow-up question to clarify if they supported gay marriage, 52 percent planned to vote in favor while 40 percent opposed it.

State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, a key leader in the push for gay rights and gay marriage in the state, said the campaign is well aware of the issue.

“The campaign knows we have a problem around clarifying that yes means yes. We also know that this is going to be close,” he said.

There will be an advertising campaign, including on television, to try to educate voters, Murray said. Washington United for Marriage, the political action committee supporting R-74, has raised about $2.3 million so far.

Elway’s poll showed I-1240, which authorizes publicly funded charter schools, led by 46 percent to 37 percent. Charter school measures have lost three times previously, in in 1996, 2000 and 2004.

I-502, which would legalize marijuana, led 46 percent to 44 percent. That’s a far different result than a SurveyUSA poll released last week that showed the measure leading 55 percent to 32 percent.

The poll surveyed 405 registered voters from July 18 through July 22 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

Comments | More in Education, homepage, Marijuana, Politics Northwest, State budget, State Legislature | Topics: charter schools, Elway Poll, gay marriage

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