OLYMPIA — Almost half of Washington voters say they support a plan to privatize the state’s liquor distribution system, according to a University of Washington poll released Monday.
The survey found that about 48 percent of respondents planned to vote yes on Initiative 1183, which would end state-run liquor sales and allow private businesses to sell the product in their stores. About 41 percent said they opposed it, while others were undecided.
Matt Barreto, director of the poll, said the measure looked to be in good shape because it was already nearing 50 percent support in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 8 election. About 3 percent of undecided respondents said they were leaning in favor of the plan.
“Initiative 1183 looks like it is headed for passage,” Barreto said.
The results on Tim Eyman’s anti-tolling measure are less clear, with about a quarter of all people still undecided. About 37 percent plan to vote yes, while 38 percent plan to vote no.
Meanwhile, looking ahead to next year’s governor’s race, the poll found that Republican Rob McKenna has built a seven-point advantage over Democrat Jay Inslee in a head-to-head vote. About 47 percent of voters reported having a favorable opinion of McKenna, while only 33 percent did of Inslee. Half said they didn’t have an opinion yet of Inslee.
Barreto said those results could be problematic for the Democratic congressman because early support for a candidate tends to be reliable support and difficult to sway. He noted that a similar poll in the race between Chris Gregoire and Dino Rossi four years ago showed Gregoire with a slight lead and she went on to win.
Barreto said one positive sign for Inslee was that President Barack Obama is holding a decent approval rating at 52 percent, with 43 percent disapproving, and that could help carry the top of the Democratic ticket.
The poll involved 938 registered voters and was conducted over a three-week period in October. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
The survey also touched on gay marriage, finding that an increasing number of people support it. About 43 percent of respondents said they support gay marriage, up from 29 percent in the same poll five years ago. Another 22 percent said they support giving identical rights to gay couples but just not calling it marriage.
Barreto said that support could be enough to sustain a gay marriage referendum if lawmakers pass one this coming year.
In another question on the survey, 48 percent said they support the legalization and regulation of marijuana in the state, while 42 percent oppose it. A group is gathering signatures in hopes of putting that issue before voters next year.