Dori: Is blue-state Washington turning politically purple?

Jan 27, 2022, 6:20 AM
blue state, Elway, secretary of state...
Mailed-in primary ballots at the King County Elections processing center in Renton, Washington. (File photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(File photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

For the majority of the past three decades, Washington state has been undeniably blue.

But if results from a just-released survey conducted by long-time respected pollster Stuart Elway are an indication, there’s been a dramatic shift that shows Washington voters might be a whole lot more purple.

Elway, who was on The Dori Monson Show on Wednesday, called results from a December 2021 Crosscut/Elway Poll “significant.” Washington state voters, Elway told Dori, have shifted to a shade of purple in a quick swing that Elway calls “rare.”

Last July, when those surveyed were asked which party they would register under if they had to register by party – which Washingtonians do not – the percentage of respondents who claimed they would be Republican was at 18%, Elway told Dori’s listeners.

By December, Elway says, that grew to 29% saying they would register as Republican if they had to register by party – which is about a 10-point jump from last July.

“That is really quite a reversal in six months,” he said.

During that same time frame, state voters identifying as Democrats stayed at about 36%.

Just a 7% gap between Republicans and Democrats in six months? How rare is that over 30 years of polling?

“When we first got that data back,” Elway told Dori, “I had to take a real second look because of the swing. We had to reexamine our polling and methods. The swing is weird, it’s just so rare.”

“Only a couple of times has there been such a swing like that in a short time,” Elway said.

Outliers still play a big role.

Washington voters have a “long history of being independent” voters who don’t identify with either party, Elway continued. Among poll respondents, he added, independents remain the highest percentage of those identifying voter preference in this state.

But what happens when you compare state results to those nationally? The results are even more striking, Elway said. Recent national Gallup Poll numbers show a nine-point lead for those identifying as Democrats has been upended. Now those who identify as Republican lead by five points.

But why the shift, Dori wanted to know. Is it COVID? Supply chain issues? Inflation?

“How much of this is the horrible coattails of Joe Biden – or are there local things driving this?” Dori asked Elway.

Approaching midterm elections, Dori wanted to know how will these responses bode for either party.

Elway went on to compare Gov. Jay Inslee’s poll numbers to those of former Washington governors Christine Gregoire and Gary Locke — both Democrats — at the end of their terms.

Listen to Dori’s entire interview with Stuart Elway from The Crosscut/Elway Poll here:

Stuart Elway’s results can be found online here, published on Crosscut.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

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Dori: Is blue-state Washington turning politically purple?