New poll shows growing divide between Dems, GOP in Washington state

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SEATTLE — A new poll shows  Washington State’s political abyss between east and west—and highlights how the politics of resentment is taking hold.

The Elway Poll looked at both the urban/rural divide in Washington as well as how mutual disrespect of voters on one side of the political spectrum to the other is growing.

The survey found that the partisan divide is actually stronger than the geographic divide. The biggest divide is on guns however the distance found between answer over societal vs. personal responsibility for a person’s well being was also wide.

When it comes to guns:

  • 83 percent of Democrats say firearms priorities should be to control violence.
  • 77 percent of Republicans believe gun rights are paramount
  • By a slight plurality, Independents sided with Democrats on the issue of guns


On the question of racial discrimination:

  • 77 percent of Democrats in the state say racial biases are why minorities have a difficult time getting ahead
  • However, 70 percent of Republicans asked say racial minorities are responsible for their own conditions
  • It was almost an even split for Independents on the question of discrimination.


Assigning blame for poverty:

  • 55 percent of Republicans say it’s because of a lack of effort by the poor
  • 78 percent of Democrats blame people’s poverty on their circumstances
  • Here, Independents broke on the side of a person’s circumstances leading to poverty


And when asked about government assistance:

  • Democrats, by 70 percent say it’s more common that needy people are deprived
  • 78 percent of Republicans believe it’s more common that government assistance is going to people who don’t deserve it
  • Here, Independents followed the Republicans, 49 percent to 42 percent, saying that people who don’t deserve it are the ones getting government assistance.


These numbers point to a divide across the “Cascade Curtain.” The Elway Poll found that the GOP was seen favorably in three areas:

  • Eastern Washington
  • Small Towns
  • Districts that voted for President Trump


In contrast, the Democrats had positive scores across the rest of the state including a large advantage in the suburbs.

There’s also a big “enthusiasm gap” between the districts that voted for Trump, and those who voted for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

  • In Trump districts, the Republican party was up just eleven points while Democrats were at -7.
  • In those districts that voted for Clinton, the Democratic party had a +29 favorability. The GOP was at -30. That’s nearly a 60 point differential.


Right now the President’s favorables are on the plus side only in rural areas. People living in big cities like Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, and Spokane, small cities like Yakima or Kennewick, suburb, and small towns, all have a negative view of the President. Elway says it’s a difficult position for Republicans in the state.

One example may be the 45th Legislative District race where Democrat Manka Dhingra won over 55 percent of the vote over Jinyoung Lee Englund last Tuesday in a special election to replace the late Sen. Andy Hill, a Republican. Dhingra’s vivotory flipped control of the Senate to the Democrats.

The poll points to the positive for Democrats, however, Elway writes that we have a full year until the midterm elections next November. And in politics, 12 months is a long time.

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