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That mysterious Obama-Rossi-voting suburbanite

Apparently, Obama-Rossi supporters really exist. The question is whether they will mean anything on election day.

I've been getting hammered in the comments of Monday's edition of the Sausage Links, where I asserted that some Barack Obama "change" voters may also be inclined to vote for Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi. Where's the beef? Readers wondered. One reader ventured to call my story "dinner table speculation." Well, Seattle Times columnist Lynne Varner has apparently also discovered the dinner table, as her latest column details a recent meal she shared with a dozen women who — are you ready for this? — say they're voting for Obama and Rossi.

"The suburbs and exurbs will predict our near future," Varner writes, and the "static wages, job losses and home foreclosures have dimmed the lightness of suburban living. ... Voters rightly want change." But is Rossi an agent of change or of only real estate? It's up to the suburbs to decide, says Times columnist Danny Westneat, who wrote earlier this month that "there's something about Gregoire that doesn't feel like it's connecting in the political "swingtowns" of suburban King and Pierce counties. Or maybe something about Rossi that is."

It seems the editorial board at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer also wonders whether "change" voters will run with an Obama-Rossi split ticket. In a recent editorial, they warned voters that a state with Gregoire at the helm would benefit more from an Obama administration than a Washington led by Rossi.

I'm not taking sides. I'm simply pointing out that this is a "change" year. And Rossi is attempting to use it to his advantage. Whether Obama-Rossi voters will tip the scales, however, remains to seen.

According to state pollster Stuart Elway, they won't. His latest poll shows Gregoire with a comfortable 51 percent to 39 percent lead over Rossi. As for probable voters who support Obama for president and Rossi for governor, Elway reports "Rossi had the support of 8 percent of the Obama voters surveyed, while Gregoire had the same proportion of McCain voters," making split-ticket voters a non-issue.

Conservative pundits, however, have a tradition of finding Elway's polls laughable, and with some reason. Elway's preview poll of the Aug. 19 primary showed Gregoire with a 16-point lead over Rossi. But the final results showed the Democratic governor ahead of Rossi by less than 2 percent. Other polls have consistently said the race is tied, with some suggesting Rossi is leading by a slim margin.

Still, the Elway poll is good news for Gregoire, who has endured something a red scare in recent weeks. While the poll may not represent Gregoire's actual margin over Rossi, it does suggest she could be bouncing back — a Dora the Explorer comeback, perhaps? — meaning Obama-Rossi suburbanite voters might not matter on Election Day. We're 13 days from finding out. Don't forget: that's a long, long time. I haven't even decided what I'm wearing for Halloween. Voting is like, totally, a way bigger deal.

Clark Fredricksen is a Crosscut staff writer. You can reach him at clark.fredricksen@crosscut.com.


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