Ahead of midterms, WA voters say abortion, economy are key issues

In the new poll, 58% of Washington state voters said they disagreed with the court’s abortion ruling. Meanwhile, 16% of those polled cited abortion as an important factor when choosing a candidate for the Legislature. While Washington’s existing laws make abortion legal in most situations, the Legislature could change those laws if they have the votes.

Still, abortion was not the biggest factor among those surveyed, with 22% of voters citing the economy, gas prices or jobs as their biggest factor when choosing a state legislator. One of those voters is Patricia Pearson, a retiree who lives in Elma, a rural community in Grays Harbor County. Pearson, 80, cited the cost of gas as the most important issue to her.

“I have to drive 30 miles if I have to see my doctor or go to the Walmart,” said Pearson, who criticized the Biden administration for stopping the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The new poll also documents the deepening effects of political polarization. Another 22% of voters said political party or ideology was the biggest factor for them. When asked, some described their motivating factor with terms like “Anti-Democrat” or “Pro-Democrat” or “Anti-Trump” or “Not woke.”

CORRECTION: This version of the story corrects the poll data on the US Senate race to fix a rounding error. The correct percentage shows Sen. Patty Murray is leading Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley 50% to 37%.

“Party identification has always been a factor, but we’ve seen it grow over the last several cycles,” said Elway. “Elections have become more partisan, and more voters are looking at party ID as their primary decision factor.”

Richland resident Steve Barlow, a retired research scientist, is among them. He cites his biggest factor is voting against Republicans, he said, especially after their hands-off response to the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts by former President Donald Trump and some of his supporters to overturn the 2020 election results and make it harder in other states to cast a ballot.

“The whole thing of trying to overturn elections … standing in the way of people, trying to discourage voters they don’t want at the polls from voting,” said Barlow, 72.

The September poll also shows Trump maintaining the backing of a majority of GOP voters. Asked who they would support in the 2024 presidential election, 21% said they would support Trump, with another 15% saying they would prefer another Republican candidate. Meanwhile, 26% would support Biden, while 20% would prefer to see a Democrat other than Biden.

“Which indicates that most Republicans are still Donald Trump supporters, although it’s not quite the commanding majority that it might seem,” Elway added.

Voters showed a range of opinions about four key recent decisions by the US Supreme Court, which now has a consistent conservative majority.

On the ruling that overturned abortion protections, 58% of those in the survey said they disagreed with the court, including 46% who said they “strongly disagreed.” That compares to 14% who said they agreed with the ruling, and 24% who said they “strongly agreed” with it.

A majority of those polled also disagree with a court decision restricting the US Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate the emission of carbon coming from power plants. The 53% who were against that decision included 37% who “strongly disagreed” with it.

At the same time, almost a majority of those surveyed – 49% – agreed with the court’s ruling that a Bremerton high school football coach could lead prayers on the field after games. That included 31% who “strongly agreed” with the decision. Another 39% disagree with that court ruling, including 27% who “strongly disagree.”

The biggest split came with a Second Amendment-related ruling, where the court struck down a New York state requirement to prove a need for self-protection to get a concealed-carry license for a weapon.

Of those polled, 46% agreed with the ruling and 44% disagreed. That included 30% who “strongly agreed” and another 30% who “strongly disagreed.”

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