Poll: Economy is biggest issue for Washington voters

Poll: Economy is biggest issue for Washington voters

For the first time in eight years, the economy tops the list of issues Washington voters want the Legislature to address in 2022, eclipsing homelessness and COVID-19 as the leading concerns statewide, according to a new Crosscut/Elway Poll.

The poll, released Jan. 6 as the Legislature was preparing for its 2022 session, asked 400 registered voters an open-ended question about what topics state legislators should focus on. Nearly a third of respondents — 32 percent — named economic issues as the most important.

While the economy typically ranks high among voters’ priorities, in the past few Crosscut/Elway Polls, the coronavirus and homelessness have led as the top issues.

Last January, 52 percent of poll respondents said the Legislature should focus most on responding to the coronavirus; that number dropped to 23 percent this year.

Also this year, only 21 percent of those surveyed named homelessness as something the Legislature must try to solve, compared with nearly a third of poll respondents in 2020.

Education, voters’ top issue from 2015 to 2018, was mentioned this year by only 8 percent of people surveyed.


Pollster Stuart Elway said the shift in voter priorities largely reflects how voter anxiety over the coronavirus is receding from levels seen a year ago. A similar number of voters last year said they were concerned about the economy, he said, but a far larger number at that time were deeply worried about COVID-19.

“There’s an old saying in polling that the most important issue is either the economy, or it’s something else,” Elway said. “The economy hasn’t been at the top of the list since 2014, but it’s back.”

The Crosscut/Elway Poll has a 5 percent margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level, which means that if the survey was conducted 100 times, the results would be within 5 percentage points of the results reported at least 95 times.

Those who named the economy as a top issue specifically mentioned inflation, employment rates, and housing prices as concerns.

David Camp, a marketing consultant who lives in Spokane, said he doesn’t think the economy is doing terribly overall, but he is concerned about housing affordability. The 64-year-old thinks increasing housing density will help reduce the high costs of housing. To that end, he favors a proposal in the Legislature that would allow duplexes on all residential lots in cities of 10,000 population or more.

In the 60-day 2022 legislative session, which started Jan. 10, lawmakers will also be discussing a proposal to ban high-capacity magazines for guns. That proposal garnered more support from poll respondents: 54 percent said favored it, while 44 percent opposed it.

Polled voters were contacted by text message and by calls to cellphones and phone landlines.


Melissa Santos wrote this article for Crosscut.com, an online, non-profit Pacific Northwest news site. It’s a service of Cascade Public Media.