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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Elway Poll: Washington Trump counties, Clinton counties not so different

Donald Trump won more counties in Washington state in the 2016 election, but Hillary Clinton won more votes. (Jim Camden/The Spokesman-Review)
Donald Trump won more counties in Washington state in the 2016 election, but Hillary Clinton won more votes. (Jim Camden/The Spokesman-Review)

Geography and the state of the local economy may separate Washington counties that voted mostly for Donald Trump from those that voted mostly for Hillary Clinton last year.

But while voters in those respective counties may see some issues very differently, on others they aren't that far apart, a new poll suggests.

Voters in Washington counties that gave Trump the most votes were much more likely to say environmental regulations hurt the economy, results of a new Elway Poll said. They also were more likely to say government is "almost always wasteful and inefficient" and that government should not guarantee all people enough to eat and a place to sleep.

Voters in counties that went for Clinton came down on the other side of all of those issues, with majorities saying environmental regulations are worth the cost, that government is more efficient than it gets credit for and it should guarantee people have enough food and a place to sleep.

 Those results aren't that surprising, pollster H. Stuart Elway said. More surprising were the issues where Trump county and Clinton county voters were closely aligned. Big majorities of both counties -- 73 percent for Trump and 70 percent for Clinton -- agreed with the statement that political correctness "is often used to keep people from speaking their minds."

Also in the majority for both:

Had a low opinion of politicians with 71 percent in Trump counties and 65 percent in Clinton counties saying they believed elected officials do not care about people like them.

Had a similar view of taxes with nearly two thirds of both groups agreeing with the statement that taxes "mostly positive because they are how we pay for important things that make our quality of life good, sulch as health care, education and roads." For each group, 28 percent said taxes were "mostly negative because they take money out of people's pockets and, hold back economic growth and the creation of wealth."

Supported active foreign policy, with  57 percent for Clinton and 52 percent for Trump agreeing with the statement that U.S. security is best served "with a strong and active role in international affairs."

On several other issues, that  immigrants overall strengthen the economy, that government controls to much of their daily lives and that "too much wealth is controlled by the few people at the top," majorities agreed but with different levels of intensity.

H. Stuart Elway said the results indicate that the common way of dividing the state by "red counties and blue counties" may be too convenient. Many of the same issue dynamics are actually at work within the counties, with 45 percent of voters in Clinton counties and 44 percent in Trump counties saying they have been in a political argument since the election..

"This is not a shocking revelation, since obviously there are Clinton voters in Trump counties and Trump voters in Clinton counties," Elway said. "But it does serve as a reminder that politics at the voter level is more complex that we sometimes think." 

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.