While national polls indicate that Republicans are looking at a big wave on election day—and now, the fact that President Obama is totally responsible for the Ebola crisis certainly doesn't help the Democrats already diminishing chances—a new Elway Poll concludes there'll be no similar GOP boom in Washington state. He writes: "Republicans nationally are optimistic and the state GOP could make gains, even capture the Senate. But the low identification with both parties means that, unless Independents break massively for Republicans at the end, 2014 is unlikely to be anything like a 'wave election' in Washington state."
The only slightly good news for Democrats (no GOP wave!)—Elway also notes, by the way, that Democratic Party identification has dropped since 2008 from 46 percent to 32 percent—is one of the few conclusions he draws in a synopsis of voter attitudes that reads like a report on 1970s Carter-era malaise.
A synopsis of voter attitudes that reads like a report on 1970s Carter-era malaise.
• Voters don't feel represented by state government: 57 percent, a 20-year high, told Elway they are represented "not very well" (38 percent) plus or "not at all" (19 percent).
• Voters are also dissatisfied with "the way state government and politics is heading today": 52 percent said they were "dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied"
And Elway adds to that: "Just 22% were satisfied or 'very satisfied'— down from 33% in 2007, the last time we asked the question. The negative side of question was different in 2007; at that time 43% said they were 'disappointed' (35%) or 'angry' (8%) about the direction of state government, rather than dissatisfied."
The murky part—and why there's not likely to be a mandate of sorts—is that voters' downcast mood is coupled with disengagement. Elway sums it up well: "...An electorate not happy but also not very engaged."
The Elway numbers: Only 22 percent of voters are following this year's election "very closely"; 47 percent were following it "somewhat"; 21 percent were following it "not much"; and 12 percent were following it "not at all." (That adds up to 102 percent, but that's what Elway reports. UPDATE: Stuart Elway explained that his report contained a typo: The actual numbers were: 19 perecent were following the election "very closely," 47 "somewhat," 21 "not much," 12, "not at all," and 1 percent didn't say. )
In another sign of lackluster spirit: The number of voters who are all-in on voting for their party has declined from 52 percent for a straight ticket in 2012 to 27 percent this year, a 48 percent drop.
And clouding things even more—while Democrats maintain a slight party advantage in the state—32 to 25 (as opposed to 46-28 in 2008)—Republicans are more motivated to vote. Elway, citing a "Motivation Gap," writes:
Potentially off-setting the “natural” Democrat advantage in the upcoming election is greater motivation to vote on the Republican side. Among the partisan categories, Republicans were: Slightly more likely to be paying attention to the election (71% vs. 62% of Democrats ... [and] More dissatisfied with state government (68% vs. 28% of Democrats ...)