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WA Poll: Abortion, inflation top issues for Washington voters in midterm elections

Abortion and inflation appear to be the top issues for Washington voters in midterm elections, recent WA Poll results show.

SEATTLE — When it comes to midterm elections, Washington voters will be valuing a few important issues above the rest, according to WA Poll results released Tuesday.

Of those who responded, 28% said abortion is the most important issue they are focused on going into the election. Twenty percent indicated that inflation is the most important issue to them, and 9% pointed to border security as their top issue.

The WA Poll was commissioned by KING 5, The Seattle Times, University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public and Washington State University’s Murrow College of Communication and was conducted by SurveyUSA.

The U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling on protecting abortion rights has thrust the issue into the forefront for many American voters as the midterms draw near.

With federal abortion right protections overturned, 11 states have now enacted bans on most or all abortions. Two other states attempted to enact trigger laws, but those have been blocked by courts.

President Joe Biden passed an executive order this month that protects certain reproductive health care services and rights, and the House of Representatives last week passed a bill that restores abortion rights nationwide. However, the odds of that bill passing in the Senate are believed to be low.

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In Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee has instructed Washington State Patrol to not assist in abortion investigations from states than have bans or restrictions in place. King County also has allocated $1 million for an abortion emergency fund, with half of that going to the Northwest Abortion Access Fund.

When it comes to the upcoming midterm elections, whether a candidate supports access to abortion and reproductive care could go a long way with voters in Washington.

Sen. Patty Murray, the state's incumbent up for re-election in November, has been a staunch supporter of abortion and reproductive rights. The WA Poll also found that among voters who determined abortion rights as their top issue in this election, 72% of those respondents are supporters of Murray.

Her most likely opponent in November will be Republican Tiffany Smiley, who 33% of WA Poll respondents said they would be voting for in the midterms. Smiley said she is pro-life in a statement following the Supreme Court's decision.

The second-most prominent issue from respondents in the WA Poll was inflation, with 20% determining that as their top issue heading into midterms.

While abortion rights were the top issue among a majority of Democrats who responded to the WA Poll, inflation was by far the most significant issue among Republican respondents, with 28% choosing inflation.

For the 12 months ending in June, the government's consumer price index rocketed 9.1%, the fastest year-over-year jump since 1981.

And that was nothing next to what energy prices did: Fueled by heavy demand and by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, energy costs shot up nearly 42% in the past 12 months, the largest such jump since 1980.

"This is about inflation," said Scott McClellan, former White House press secretary for President Bush and a KING 5 political analyst. "So I think you're going to see Republicans focus on that in a big way that this is about the economy."

Fifty-four percent of WA Poll respondents who had inflation as their top issue indicated they plan to vote for Smiley in the Senate race, while 30% of those respondents indicated they would be voting for Murray.

Border security was the third-most prominent issue among WA Poll respondents, with 9% making it their top concern.

Twenty-three percent of Republican respondents indicated border security as their top issue, while just 1% of Democrats designated it as theirs. Age was also a factor: 16% of those respondents aged 65 or older have border security as their top issue, compared to just 6% of those 18-34 years old.

Washington state's primary election is on Aug. 2 with the general election taking place on Nov. 2.

The WA Poll was commissioned by KING 5, The Seattle Times, University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public and Washington State University’s Murrow College of Communication and was conducted by SurveyUSA. It surveyed 825 adults from July 6-10, 2022. Of those adults, 731 were registered voters. The poll represented the demographics of Washington state with 47% from the metro Seattle area, 32% from western Washington and 21% from eastern Washington.

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