Rossi's decision to file with the Secretary of State as a "GOP Party" candidate, rather than as a "Republican Party" candidate was no accident. Everything Rossi has done over the past six years in his quest to be elected Governor has been meticulously calculated. Rossi has refused to say anything during his campaign that hasn't been poll-tested and scrubbed, and his choice of party label is no exception.
Independent pollster Stuart Elway, in his September newsletter, noted a stark difference in Rossi's support when the different party labels were used.
"Governor Chris Gregoire leads challenger Dino Rossi by 10 points or by 4 points, depending upon how their party identification is presented.
Washington's new Top Two Primary system requires candidates to list themselves as 'preferring (this or that) party.' That preference also appears on the November ballot. Dino Rossi lists himself has preferring 'the GOP Party.' That may turn out to be a shrewd move.
Rossi trailed Gregoire by 51% to 41% when he is introduced as 'Republican Dino Rossi' and she as 'Democrat Chris Gregoire.' That lead is cut in half (48-44%) when he is 'Dino Rossi, who prefers the GOP party' and she is Chris Gregoire, 'who prefers the Democratic party.'
These difference are not statistically significant, but they are politically significant. A previous Elway Poll (June 08) found that 25% of respondents did not know what 'GOP' referred to. And in a race that was decided by 133 votes 4 years ago, a 6 point differential is anything but trivial." [Stuart Elway, The Elway Report, Sept. 08]
I have been amazed and impressed by Rossi's remarkable discipline when it comes to his campaign message. His views on most public policy issues -- labor, environment, abortion, etc. -- are out of step with most Washington voters. Other candidates with similar philosophies have been resoundingly defeated in statewide elections in the past. Rossi has managed to outperform his philosophical base by making sure he never says anything that is "off message."
Rossi has been skewered by editorial boards across the state for his stubborn refusal to offer substantive answers to questions posed by the public and the press. On the other hand, if he responded to those questions in a manner consistent with his Senate voting record, he wouldn't have a chance to win. -- Dennis