While Washingtonians agree on issues such as whether environmental activism is too aggressive and hurts economic growth, Eastern Washington voters disagree over whether the state should have legalized recreational marijuana, say the findings of a new survey.
The Spokane office of Portland-based Gallatin Group Inc. and Boise-based G Squared Public Strategies, conducted the survey.
The survey polled almost 1,000 people statewide, including more than 200 business respondents in 17 eastern counties. Supporting sponsors of the survey included Journal of Business, Greater Spokane Incorporated, and the Tri-City Development Council.
On other topics, voters statewide support Washington State University’s proposal to open another medical school, the survey responses suggest. Statewide, 81.2 percent of likely voters who responded to the survey said they support WSU establishing a medical school, and 72.8 percent said they would continue that support, even after being told it would require the Legislature to change state law and provide funding. The percentages were higher in Eastern Washington, at 86.1 percent and 76.3 percent, respectively.
Both the business-sector and general-population respondents, on both sides of the state, rated the state’s economy as good and say they expect continued growth, results from the poll show.
The poll was conducted Nov. 30 through Dec. 2, and has a 4.9 percent margin of error.
Asked to rate the current economy in Washington state, 53 percent of Eastern Washington businesspeople said the economy was good, while statewide, 84 percent rated it as good. Last year only 32 percent of Eastern Washington businesspeople who participated in the survey said they believed the economy was good.
About half of businesspeople statewide and in Eastern Washington said that the economy will get better over the next two years, with 49 percent and 48 percent, respectively, in each camp.
When businesspeople statewide were asked about the most important sector in the state economy, technology rated the highest at 35.5 percent, edging out aerospace, agriculture, manufacturing, health care, and tourism. In 2013, technology also was rated the most important sector, but came in at 28.2 percent. Aerospace was still second, but came in higher last year at 22 percent, while in this year’s poll it was ranked at 18 percent.
In Eastern Washington, agriculture and timber were named the most important sector, with 41.3 percent of the vote, and technology was rated second in importance with 20.8 percent.
The majority of Washington state voters polled said they favor shipping fossil fuels like coal and oil on Washington’s railways, but when asked whether the majority of the public favors or opposes shipping fossil fuels by rail, voters said they believe the majority of residents oppose it. Only 27.3 percent of those polled said they believe the majority of Washingtonians support shipping fossil fuels by rail, and 46.8 percent believed most people are opposed.
Eric Williams, spokesman for Gallatin Group, says those conflicting responses to the fossil fuels question highlights the fact that there is a silent majority.
“The majority is convinced they’re in the minority,” Williams says.
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