It looks like Republican Sen. John McCain is not the only one getting a boost in the polls, thanks to his selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be the Republican vice presidential nominee. According to SurveyUSA's latest poll, Republican gubernatorial challenger Dino Rossi leads Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire for the first time, 48 percent to 47 percent. But don't get too excited, Rossi fans. That's the exact same percentage of people who said they would vote for Rossi in SurveyUSA's poll on Aug. 18. On the other hand, Gregoire has fallen three percentage points among likely voters since August.
But if Rossi supporters want something to celebrate, it's that women voters appear to be warming up to the GOP challenger. Whereas a SurveyUSA poll in April showed Gregoire with a whopping 20-point advantage over Rossi among likely female voters, yesterday's poll showed them deadlocked.
So what happened? Is this the Palin effect? Not exactly. As it turns out, Rossi had been making headway with women for a while now. From the poll results: About two-thirds of the gains that Rossi has made among women since May occurred before Sarah Palin became the new face of the Republican party. Since Palin was named, Rossi is up 3 points among women, Gregoire is down 7. There is offsetting but slightly less dramatic movement among men, where Rossi had led by 20 points in May, but leads by 2 points today. Voters without a college degree are shifting Republican, both in the contest for President and in the contest for Governor. Rossi and Gregoire were tied among the lesser educated in April, May, June and July ... but today, Rossi leads by 12 points. In Eastern WA, where Rossi has led sometimes by a little, he now leads by a lot, 31 points.
We often hear of how Gregoire is going to "ride Obama's coattails" to victory – seriously, Google it. But if the Republicans can maintain damage control on the various Palingates out there, Rossi could end up stealing key female voters away from Gregoire. So to speak, riding Palin's skirt hem all the way to Olympia.