Poll-y Smokes!!!


Take it for what it is worth but a second polling firm has Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi ahead of incumbent Christine Gregoire. Rasmussen Reports has the GOP favorite up 52 to 46 percent. A SurveyUSA canvas had Rossi up 48 to 47 percent.

Last month, on August 8, Rasmussen showed Gregoire up 47 to 43 percent. During the August 19 Top-Two primary, the results favored the Governor 48.27 percent to 46.35 percent.

Republican faithful like to point to similar polls taken in the 2004 election that showed Rossi steadily eroding Gregoire’s lead, closing the gap before the November election. If elections are a horse race, the Daily Racing Form would label him as a closer.

This is the first time that the challenger has been ahead in back-to-back polls and the first time he has shown a lead exceeding the margin of error; in this case 4.5 percent from a telephone survey of 500 “likely voters”.

With the puissance of Rossi’s fundraising prowess, his name recognition, blanket advertising and the general lackluster performance displayed by Gregoire’s campaign, the former Sammamish state senator’s lead might be alarming to Washington Democrats. But it shouldn’t be surprising.

However, the results of a similar poll tracking Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. John McCain’s numbers in the Evergreen state continue to elicit the epithet “SayWA!!!”

Rasmussen has the Arizona Maverick within two percentage points, behind 47 to 49 percent Sen. Barack Obama. Conventional political wisdom portrays Washington as a safe Democratic state. A month ago, before the presidential conventions, most polls showed the Illinois Senator with a double-digit lead.

The majority of national polls released over the past week have McCain leading his opponent by a few percentage points, with similar gains in most state-wide polls. Credit for the political turn-around will no doubt center on his exotic choice of a running mate.

Watch for self-anointed political experts to use the term “western surge” or similar such constructs in order to link Palin’s popularity with states west of the Continental Divide.

Readers shouldn’t put a terrible amount of stock in polls. Particularly when one understands that campaigns use them to shape and not gauge public opinion. The reliance of reporters to parrot the results of polls in order to fill up news space is the laziest form of journalism.

At best polls are able to state the blatantly obvious. And it has become blatantly obvious that Republican candidates on the national and local level have regained the political initiative; something that was deemed impossible in the wake of the so-called Blue Wave of 2006.

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