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Clinton, Locke Get High Marks In Poll But Gorton, Murray Receive Below-Average Rating In Survey

Washington voters seem more satisfied than ever with the job President Clinton is doing, while Gov. Gary Locke gets good marks for his first six months in office.

Voters also give their two U.S. senators passing if unenthusiastic grades in a new poll conducted for The Spokesman-Review and KHQ-TV.

Clinton’s job performance ratings - 54 percent said he was doing either an excellent or good job - are probably a reflection of the state’s strong economy, said Del Ali, an analyst for Mason Dixon Political Media Research, Inc., which conducted the poll.

“Personally, he has not been getting good press with Paula Jones, the Supreme Court and Whitewater,” Ali said.

During his first term, similar polls conducted by the firm have showed Clinton’s job performance ratings as low as 37 percent among Washington voters.

One constant throughout all those polls: About one voter in four always says Clinton is doing a poor job.

“Those are the people who have hated his guts ever since he was candidate Clinton in 1992,” Ali said.

Other politicians do not evoke such a visceral reaction in the state.

Locke, who took office in January, has only about one voter in 10 rating his job as poor. Nearly half the voters say he’s doing a good or excellent job.

“Those are pretty good numbers for a new governor,” Ali said. “Governors have it tough, they’re thrown right into the firing line, have to deal with the Legislature and have tough decisions to make.”

Locke may have benefited from the good publicity that surrounded the birth of his daughter shortly after his inauguration, and from the fact that the Legislature finished work without needing a special session for the first time in decades.

His job performance ratings are also in marked contrast to those of his predecessor. Early in his term, Mike Lowry had only about 31 percent of the voters in a similar survey saying he was doing a good or excellent job.

The state’s two senators - Republican Slade Gorton and Democrat Patty Murray - have similar job approval ratings among the voters surveyed. Forty-five percent said Murray was doing an excellent or good job; 43 percent said the same of Gorton.

The Washington senators rank in the bottom half of U.S. senators in similar polls conducted around the nation, Ali said.

“It’s about a C-minus,” Ali said. “Voters aren’t enthusiastic about the job they are doing.”

Women were more likely to give Murray a favorable rating, men more likely to say they like the job Gorton is doing.

The big difference for the two politicians is one of timing. Murray is up for re-election next year while Gorton’s term isn’t up until the year 2000.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Rating the president and governor


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