A new poll by Stuart Elway concludes that most King County residents "don't really care" that the Sonics aren't coming back to Seattle (at least not yet). In the poll, 51 percent said they didn't care that efforts led by Mayor Mike McGinn and San Francisco hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen to buy the Sacramento Kings failed (the team was sold to a separate investor group and is staying in Sacramento).
The poll has implications for the mayoral race, and two candidates, former city council member Peter Steinbrueck and incumbent McGinn, in particular.
Another four percent of county residents said they had no opinion about the Kings' decision, and 15 percent said they were "mildly disappointed," bringing the total percentage of county residents either disinterested or mostly apathetic about Seattle's failure to bring back the Sonics to 70 percent. Twelve percent said they were glad the Kings were staying in Sacramento, and just 18 percent said they were "very disappointed."
The absence of an NBA team, Elway notes in his poll, "has not made locals' hearts grow fonder": The number of people who say they don't care one way or another about bringing the NBA back to Seattle has more than doubled in the past year, from 24 percent to 51 percent. Older voters were the least likely to be disappointed, with 55 percent of those over 50 (the group that traditionally votes in primary elections) to be indifferent, compared to 48 percent of those under age 35.
The news, to the extent that it reflects on the Seattle mayor's race (just 34 percent of 401 respondents lived in Seattle, but the percentages were nearly identical betewen Seattle and non-Seattle residents), has implications for two candidates in particular. Mayor Mike McGinn made "bring back our Sonics!" a rallying cry of his campaign; apparently, however, most voters failed to rally.
And for former city council member Peter Steinbrueck, who made his opposition to the arena a cornerstone of his campaign, the fact that Sonics apathy is so high takes some of the wind out of his sails.
Footnote: If McGinn isn't reelected, it will be at least in part because his two signature issues, the tunnel (which passed and is being built) and the Sonics (which failed and aren't returning, at least for now) fizzled, serving as bookends to his four-year term.