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September 19, 2008

Gregoire, Rossi In Dead Heat

Four years after the closest Governor's race in Washington state history, the two candidates who finished just 130 votes apart look headed for another close finish. Talk to any political observer out West and they will agree with polls showing Governor Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, and former Republican State Senator Dino Rossi essentially tied.

The latest survey shows Rossi up, but barely. Conducted by Strategic Vision, the poll surveyed 800 likely voters between 9/14-16 for a margin of error of +/- 3.5%. Gregoire and Rossi were tested.

General Election Matchup
Rossi........48 (+3 from last, 7/27)
Gregoire.....46 (-1)

Strategic Vision conducts regular polls in Washington state, and they've been testing this matchup ever since Gregoire edged out Rossi after three vote counts in 2004. For four years, the candidates have been neck and neck.

That's been the case for virtually every pollster testing the state. Only one, frequently accused of oversampling Democrats, has showed Gregoire with a lead of any significance.

Coattails could matter in a state like Washington, which Barack Obama is expected to win big. But several people with experience polling the state have noted what they call an abnormally large percentage of Obama voters backing Rossi. The Republican is capitalizing on the crossover, casting himself as a change agent.

Both candidates are getting help, and catching flak for associating with, outside organizations. Rossi has been criticized for his ties to the Building Industry Association of Washington, which has spent heavily backing his campaign, while Gregoire has been a target for contributions she received from state workers and Native American tribes.

The Democratic and Republican Governors Associations have been heavily involved as well, with millions in television time reserved through Election Day. Each outside group is going to fight tooth and nail for every advantage they can snag, as the second round of the Gregoire-Rossi fight comes down to the wire.