Recent Elway Poll findings shed light on the public’s mood in Washington this election season, quick on the heels of a record 176-day legislative session. My, what an owlish bunch.
Lobbyists gave the legislative session that ended in July their best rating since 2011. But lobbyists’ overall letter grade for the Legislature was only C-minus. Lobbyists liked Senate Republicans best, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee least, pollster Stuart Elway found.
Work on higher education, transportation and K-12 schools got the highest marks.
Voters were less kind: They gave a D-plus grade to the politically divided Legislature.
Inslee, a Democrat in his third year of a four-year term, got a solid C grade from 502 voters surveyed on July 21-23. Only 30 percent said they are inclined to re-elect him next year; 17 percent of voters would vote for another Democrat. The error margin was 4.5 percent.
Of course, it’s only one poll. Before Republicans rejoice they should note that a generic GOP candidate gets just 25 percent support.
Voters don’t understand the legislative process as well as lobbyists do, of course. Many hate the way legislatures work — slowly, gradually, steadily, sometimes not at all. Many voters dislike overtime sessions and Elway said he found voters are tuning out.
Yet Elway says voters want lawmakers to work across party lines. Many prefer divided government that can lead to bipartisanship — provided the end result is flavored with their political party’s ingredients.
History shows that voters almost never get an on-time legislative result and bipartisanship in the same loaf of bread. The last big run of on-time sessions was during Democratic control of both the House and Senate during a period of good economic times. Except for once in 2014, on-time performance ceased the onset of a brutal recession in 2009.
Another finding by Elway is that our voters are grumpier than voters nationally. The highest optimism is within their own households (68 percent say things in the next year “will get better”). Optimism erodes as one moves away from home; just 50 percent say things are looking better nationally. Elway speculated that unusually hot weather in a region where few homes have air conditioning might be stoking frustrations.
How this filters into our local elections is harder to say. Secretary of State Kim Wyman says turnout may be a dismal 26 percent.
In a democracy, that should put all of us in a bad mood — if we weren’t in one already.
PRIMARY ELECTION BALLOTS ARE DUE ON TUESDAY
The primary election has been under way in Washington for a couple of weeks since ballots were mailed to voters. Tuesday, known as primary election day, is the deadline for returning ballots.
We urge everyone to vote today. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by 8 p.m. Tuesday or placed in the Thurston County auditor’s drop boxes by that time.
State elections officials are forecasting a low turnout due to the lack of hot button issues and the time of year. Early August is not an ideal time for an election, but that was the compromise when state lawmakers faced legal concerns about having time to process overseas ballots; they moved it from mid-September.
We typically do not endorse candidates for primaries; we will endorse for November.
Nonetheless, voters’ choices are important. Primary races with at least three candidates include Olympia mayor, Olympia city council, two Port of Olympia commissioner races, contests for mayor and one council seat in Tenino and one council race in Yelm. Please vote.