More than half support taxing large businesses to pay for affordable housing
SEATTLE — Nearly 70% of likely Seattle voters are interested in a new direction for the city council, according to a new Crosscut/Elway Poll. Asked if they were more inclined to vote for a candidate who wanted to continue the course or change the direction of the city council, 67% said they wanted change. Nineteen percent preferred continuing the current direction, and 14% were undecided. Similarly, 69% had a more negative view of the job the city council is doing, rating it “only fair” or “poor.”
Homelessness tops voter concerns, and a clear majority want the issue addressed, in part, by taxing large businesses to pay for affordable housing. Support in the poll for a tax on large businesses to pay for affordable housing came in at 56%. Forty percent opposed the idea. A similar effort known as the head tax was passed in 2018, but quickly repealed by the city council.
Support for this approach is in line with widespread concerns about homelessness in Seattle:
- 64% of poll participants said they disapprove of the direction city government is going on addressing homelessness.
- 56% expressed doubt that a new combined effort by Seattle and King County would result in a decrease in homelessness.
- 53% said homelessness was the top issue in deciding how to vote in the current council races. The issue was in a list that also included housing density, police and transportation.
While homelessness was top of mind for many voters, over 90% of respondents said they feel “very safe” (41%) or “mostly safe” (52%) in their neighborhoods. Survey participants also showed support for a plan to tax rideshares (61% approval) and the recent proposal to ban natural gas in new construction (49% approval, with 40% opposed).
“What captured my attention was the broad support for change on the city council, but approval of most of the policies and proposals the city is pursuing,” said pollster Stuart Elway. “Except for the dominant issue of homelessness and the related issue of neighborhood density, it’s like we want new people to keep doing the same things.”
In comparison to the city council, Mayor Jenny Durkan was given higher marks. Forty-eight percent rated her record as “good” or “excellent.” The Crosscut/Elway Poll represents the first public polling on Durkan’s performance since she took office in 2017.
The live poll of 432 likely Seattle voters was conducted by phone, 66% via cellphone, between Oct. 5 and 9. Survey participants came from all seven Seattle council districts in roughly equal numbers.
The likely voters surveyed for this poll were more likely to be longtime residents. Nearly 60% of participants have lived in Seattle for 21 years or longer; 53% were 51 or older; 69% were homebuyers or home owners.
The poll has a margin of error of ± 4.7% at a 95% confidence level. This means that had this same survey been conducted 100 times, the results would be within 4.7 percentage points of the results reported here at least 95 times.
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Crosscut is the Pacific Northwest’s independent, nonprofit news site. We believe an informed public is essential to solving the challenges of our time. Crosscut strives to provide readers with the facts and analysis they need to intelligently participate in civic discourse, and to create a more just, equitable and sustainable society.
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