SEATTLE — Homelessness is the top concern for voters in Washington state heading into 2020, according to the latest Crosscut/Elway Poll. One-third of poll participants said social service issues are the most pressing in the state and 31% specifically cited. In the same survey one year ago, 21% named homelessness specifically.
Half of the respondents support using the state’s Rainy Day Fund for homelessness programs, split along party lines. Eighty percent of Democrats support the idea; 80% of Republicans oppose it. Independents opposed the idea, 54-37%. The voters most likely to support it were people under age 35 (63%) and women (57%). Most likely to oppose were rural voters (58%).
In a related question — “Should local governments be allowed to implement rent control?” — 47% favored and 40% opposed.
The broad recognition of homelessness as an issue stands out, pollster Stuart Elway said.
“Not only did it top the public’s agenda for the second year in a row — by a much wider margin than last year — but it was the top issue named by voters in both parties, in every region and in every size community in the state,” he said.
Meanwhile, voters supported 2-to-1 securing new revenue to continue building out the region’s transportation system, rather than cutting or delaying programs. Transportation spending has been thrown into question by the November passage of Initiative 976, which aims to slash the license and vehicle taxes that fund transportation. The measure has been challenged in court. Voters supported finding new money for transportation 58-26%.
Voters gave mixed marks for Gov. Jay Inslee.
His performance was rated as “excellent” or “good” by 40%; 57% called it “only fair” or “poor.”
Most said Inslee’s unsuccessful bid to be the Democratic candidate for president did not change their opinion. Those who said it gave them a more negative impression outnumbered those who claimed it gave them a more positive impression, 29% to 17%.
Now running for a third term as governor, Inslee leads the field, with 46% supporting his run; 34% are undecided; GOP candidate Tim Eyman is the candidate with the second highest support with 7%.
“Voter evaluation of Jay Inslee’s performance has been remarkably steady,” Elway said. “Both his predecessors, Governors Gregoire and Locke, had higher positive numbers early in their terms, and higher negative numbers late in their terms, than Inslee has had.”
The poll also gauged voter support for a variety of legislative ideas. More than 75% in every demographic supported strengthening consumer protections for personal data online. A requirement for comprehensive sex education in schools received 56% support overall. Two-thirds of voters surveyed said they supported requiring gasoline and fossil fuel companies to reduce carbon emissions.
The live poll of 405 registered Washington voters was conducted Dec. 26-29 by phone and online, with 50% of respondents participating by landline, 25% by cell phone and 25% online after text message invitation.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5% at a 95% confidence level. This means that had this same survey been conducted 100 times, the results would be within 5 percentage points of the results reported here at least 95 times.
In 2018, The Elway Poll partnered with Cascade Public Media to form The Crosscut.Elway Poll. Cascade Public Media is the parent organization for KCTS/9, the Seattle public television station, and the daily digital news site Crosscut.com.