Politics & Government

Elway Poll: Inslee ratings in negative territory but better than Gregoire, Lowry after 18 months in office

A new Elway Poll shows Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s ratings still stuck in negative territory as more voters see him in negative terms than positive.

Specifically, the July 15 poll says 43 percent of Washington voters see him positively and 50 percent negatively — for a minus-7 rating at 18 months into his first term.

That’s better than former Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire, who had a minus-13 percent rating after hitting 18 months in office in mid-2006. And it’s a lot better than the minus-21 percent rating for former Democratic Gov. Mike Lowry in mid-1994 just before Republicans retook the Legislature and Congress.

But Inslee has to be envious of former Democratic Gov. Gary Locke who enjoyed a plus-37 percent net job rating in mid-1998 — at a time he was setting state records for vetoing bills sent over by the GOP-controlled Legislature.

The latest job ratings are similar to what Inslee had in January and July 2013.

“Voters have remained steady, divided and mostly critical in their assessment of Gov. Jay Inslee’s performance over his first year in office,” Stuart Elway says in the first line of the two-page report by Elway Research. The report questioned 506 registered voters chosen at random from state voter rolls during July 8-11, 45 percent of whom were on cell phones. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percent.

The results in some ways reflect the state’s demographics with support running at 60 percent from liberal Seattle, which helped elect Inslee in November 2012. The negative ratings of 59 percent came from conservative and mostly rural Eastern Washington, which favored his Republican opponent Rob McKenna.

Results also reflected the voter outlook for Washington with 55 percent of those thinking “things were looking up” rating Inslee in positive terms, while 75 percent of those who thought “things were getting worse for the state” gave him negative ratings.

Since taking office in January 2013, Inslee has encountered a divided Legislature because two Senate Democrats crossed over to form a Majority Coalition Caucus that has brought a largely conservative, Republican agenda to the upper chamber. This has led to logjams on transportation tax agreements and disagreements on revenues and budgets which have drawn a state Supreme Court warning over the level of state funding for K-12 public schools.

Inslee also has seen his efforts on climate change thwarted, and he’s resorted to executive orders on climate that could eventually lead to greener fuel standards and possibly a proposal to the Legislature for a cap-and-trade scheme of carbon credits.