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Poll: Weak support for Washington initiatives

Thu., Sept. 16, 2010

None of the six has majority backing

Three initiatives that would change the state’s tax policies – instituting an income tax, dropping a series of consumer taxes or requiring supermajorities to pass new taxes – have more support than opposition among voters, a new poll by Elway Research Inc. indicates.

But none has a majority of voters saying they’d vote yes if they were casting ballots right now. Neither do the other three initiatives placed on the ballot by petition drives – two that would end the state’s ownership of liquor stores and another that would change the system for compensating injured workers.

“I think the initiatives are in trouble,” pollster H. Stuart Elway said. “You better be well over 50 percent before the heavy campaign season starts, because support tends to erode” when the opposition starts its advertising push.

One of the proposals, which would require any new tax imposed by the state to get a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Legislature, seems to have lost support over the summer, Elway said. In the current poll, 48 percent of voters say they definitely or probably would vote yes on Initiative 1053; in June, 65 percent said they probably or definitely would vote yes. The opposition stayed relatively the same in both polls, but the number of undecided voters jumped.

The proposed income tax on high earners has 44 percent support, while the repeal of the candy and soda tax has 47 percent support.

Many of the initiatives have significant numbers of voters who said they are undecided. That could be because there are more ballot measures than usual, or because voters are confused by such things as two proposals to end the state monopoly on liquor store sales with slightly different wording, Elway said.

“One old adage is that confused voters tend to vote no on ballot measures,” he said.

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