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As mentioned earlier, there's a thick Washington Poll out today that's worth going through in some detail.

Let's do!

First, that Murray v. Rossi finding: She beats him 44 to 40—with a margin of error of 3.9 percent, which means that if the MOE is against her she just barely, barely beats him. It's also worth noting that when the question was asked in a more generic fashion ("Are you planning to vote for Patty Murray the Democrat, or the Republican candidate?") Murray still beat the generic Republican, but with lower numbers on both sides: 42 to 39. That's not a huge change, granted, but it seems to suggest that a Rossi entrance into the race would quickly get undecideds off the fence.

All in all, it's another bit of encouragement for the Mystery Man to drop his coy routine and declare.

In more general findings, jobs and the economy are by far the number one issue voters in this state feel concerned about. Eight months ago, the Washington Poll found a roughly even level of concern about three "most important" issues: taxes (21 percent), health care reform (25 percent), and the economy/jobs (31 percent). Now 62 percent of registered voters in Washington say the economy and jobs are the number one issue—with health care still a concern (27 percent) and taxes barely registering as a problem (6 percent).

The right track/wrong track finding for Washington State has flipped since eight months ago, with most of the respondents who expressed an opinion—44 percent—now saying the state is "seriously on the wrong track." (In October 2009, the majority who expressed an opinion—also 44 percent—said the state was "going in the right direction.") Bad news for incumbents. Which in this state mostly means Democrats.

As for the ever-popular approval ratings, here's what Washington State thinks about the following characters: Obama gets 58 percent job approval; Murray gets a somewhat worrisome 51 percent; Congress, no surprise, gets a measly 30 percent; Gregoire gets 44 percent; Rob McKenna gets 41 percent; and the state legislature, in another warning to incumbents, gets 36 percent.

Speaking of the state legislature, the poll found voters evenly split between Republican and Democratic candidates in their districts. Given a generic choice between the parties (rather than between specific candidates), 39 percent of poll respondents said they'd be voting for Democratic candidates for state legislature, while 38 percent said Republican (with 19 percent undecided).

Winner!
  • Winner!
In good news for Bill Gates Sr.'s plan to tax the rich via Initiative 1098, the poll found strong approval for the idea of levying a new income tax on individuals earning more than $200,000 a year: 58 percent were in favor, 30 were opposed, and only 10 percent were undecided.

Liquor privatization? It's popular: 52 percent would vote for an initiative to allow booze to be sold in grocery stores, 37 percent opposed the idea, and only 8 percent were undecided.

Other policy issues: 45 percent approve of Obama's new health care law (vs. 41 percent who disapprove) but there's a more even split regarding Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna's plan to take down the health care law via court action (40 percent approve, 40 percent disapprove). Meanwhile, more people approve than disapprove (49 percent vs. 45 percent) of the state legislature's new budget taxing candy, beer, cigarettes, and bottled water. But, 60 percent approve of Tim Eyman's idea, shoved aside by the legislature this year, that tax increases must be approved by a 2/3 majority. On pot legalization, 52 percent approve of removing state civil and criminal penalties.

And then there's that odd finding on the new Arizona immigration law. The poll finds 52 percent of Washingtonians approving of the measure (which requires state and local police to stop and question people they suspect of being illegal immigrants), while 82 percent of Washingtonians disapprove of the idea that "state and local police should have the right to profile or stop someone on account of race or ethnicity." Forgive the 52 percent, they know not what they're actually supporting?

Oh, and as I wrote five years ago:

It's the demographics, stupid.

What do... most of the prominent anti-gay voices in this country have in common? They're old. Falwell and Dobson are 71 and 69, respectively—and try to come up with an active anti-gay voice on the national stage who is under 50. There aren't many. In poll after poll, it is older Americans who prove to be the most intolerant of gay rights, while young Americans emerge as the most accepting. As the Boston Globe concluded earlier this year: "Support for gay marriage will grow as older people, who are more likely to oppose gay marriage, pass away." The same is true for all other gay issues.

We gay people can lobby politicians and dialogue with homophobes all we want, and we should, but perhaps the most important thing gay Americans can do right now is hold our ground and wait for the considerable number of anti-gay older Americans to die off. When they do, public opinion on gay rights issues is likely to flip.

Today's Washington Poll bears this idea out. In 2006, 30 percent of respondents thought gay and lesbian couples should have the same legal right to marry as straight couples. In 2007: 35 percent. In 2008: 37 percent. In 2009: 35 percent. This year: 41 percent.

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What happened over the last four years? Many things, of course, but probably the biggest factor influencing this shift is that a lot of older Washington voters died and a lot of younger Washingtonians came of voting age.

The methodological details: The survey was administered by telephone, by the Washington Survey Research Center at the UW, based on a randomly selected list of phone numbers using a publicly available list of registered voters. The survey was in the field from May 3 — May 23, 2010. A total of 1,252 registered voters throughout the state of Washington were interviewed, yielding a 2.8% margin of error. (Except for in the Murray vs. Rossi question, in which a half-sample of 626 registered voters was used, leading to a 3.9% margin of error.)