To people around the country not from this area, there are three things they know about Washington and the Pacific Northwest: It rains all the time (they have no idea about the summer conditions of Eastern Washington), there is this cool thing called the Space Needle, and Sasquatch (or Bigfoot, whichever name you prefer) lives here.
Now for most of these tourists the Bigfoot thing isn't actually real, and while it might be fun for them to buy the various different Sasquatch shirts and other paraphernalia sold at the tourist shops lining Seattle's waterfront, at the end of the day it's just a story. For us locals, however, it seems that the story of Bigfoot might not be just a story but an actual reality.
According to a recent survey by Seattle-based PEMCO Insurance, 33 percent of Washington and Oregon drivers believe that it is possible Sasquatch exists, and almost 10 percent say they have actually seen a Bigfoot or know of someone who has. And when looking at the Washington-Oregon breakdown of the numbers, it seems that Bigfoot might be a Washington resident.
The survey, conducted by FBK Research for PEMCO, asked 629 Washington and 400 Portland-area drivers a variety of multiple-choice questions on driving habits and attitudes towards Northwest issues. Some of the topics on the survey were fairly straightforward, like whether hybrid vehicles were a Northwest rarity and if the SR 520 bridge tolls changed driving patterns.
On the Sasquatch questions, the survey asked these two questions:
In complete honesty - do you believe it's possible that Sasquatch exists? (Yes, No, or Don't Know)
Do you, or does anyone you know, believe that he or she has ever seen a living Sasquatch? (Yes, No, or Don't Know)
When looking at the Portland, Ore. results, it is clear belief in Bigfoot was not nearly as strong as it is in Washington (classic no-fun Portland), with 55 percent of Portlanders doubting the creature's existence, and 85 percent saying they never have seen it themselves. Overall 28 percent of Portlanders still believe it's possible that Sasquatch exists, compared to Washington's 36 percent.
For Washington drivers this is not the first time they have seen the question. Having been asked on PEMCO surveys since 2009 if Sasquatch exists, each year the results from Washington drivers have been relatively stagnant - at or around 30 percent.
So why does PEMCO even care about the Pacific Northwest's belief in Bigfoot? They don't. According to the companies press release on the survey, they mainly ask about Sasquatch because it is a fun question with implications to the region in which it soperates. As PEMCO spokesperson Jon Osterberg is quoted in the press release:
"People might wonder, 'Why is an insurance company even bothering with something so silly? Is PEMCO pondering Sasquatch-protection coverage? No. Does it matter to our business if they exist? No. Is it a fun and whimsical topic for a survey? Absolutely! Especially here in the quirky Northwest where Sasquatch is part of our culture."
All I know is I'm going to have my eye out for 8-foot long footprints on my next hike. Already 14 percent of Washingtonians say the've seen Bigfoot or know someone who has. I might as well be next.