Poll: Voters give state lawmakers a D+
A new poll shows disappointment in what the Legislature achieved in the recently concluded session.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Washington state voters were not impressed with the work of this year’s legislative session, according to a poll released Tuesday.
Respondents to The Elway Poll gave state lawmakers a collective D+ for the session, which began in mid-January and stretched through two overtime sessions to late June.
That grade came from the average of the 17 percent who gave lawmakers an F, the 29 percent who chose a grade of D, the 34 percent who selected C, the 11 percent who opted for B and the 1 percent who awarded an A (the last 9 percent had no opinion).
The poll’s lone bright spot: 58 percent of voters reported they followed the session, the highest percentage since a 1998 poll.
“Washington voters reported paying attention to the 2013 legislative session in record numbers,” pollster Stuart Elway wrote in his report. “They didn’t much like what they saw.”
It’s hard to say whether people are more sour on Olympia this year than usual. Elway said he hasn’t before asked specifically for voters to give lawmakers a letter grade.
State Sen. Rodney Tom, a Medina Democrat who turned the Senate upside down by joining with one other Democrat and 23 Republicans to form a Majority Coalition Caucus, said he’s heard a different tune from constituents.
“If you ask a generic question, I think you’re going to get a generic answer,” said Tom, the Senate majority leader.
“Look at what we actually did — a billion dollars for education, no new taxes, no tuition increases.”
The poll, however, gave especially poor marks to Tom’s Majority Coalition Caucus.
While 41 percent of respondents to a January poll said they expected the coalition to make progress more likely, just 21 percent on the new poll said the coalition had a positive effect on the Legislature.
Some 35 percent classified the impact as negative, while 43 percent found the impact neutral or had no opinion.
Underperforming expectations was a general theme of the new poll.
While 40 percent of respondents to the January poll said that they were confident the Legislature would make progress on the issue they named most important, just 16 percent reported on the new poll that lawmakers actually made progress.
In a similar poll conducted after the 2007 legislative session, 26 percent said progress was made. And in 2006, 31 percent reported seeing progress.
The new poll surveyed 406 registered voters by phone (including cellphone) between July 9 and 11. The margin of error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.
Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @brianmrosenthal