Issues at play for the November 2022 election: Today So Far
- Abortion rights are well secured in Washington state, but that doesn't mean the issue won't be front and center leading up to the November elections.
- Housing. It's not just for rich people.
This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for August 4, 2022.
It should be said that abortion rights are pretty well secured in Washington state. In fact, Washington was the first state to legalize abortion through a vote of the people in 1970, before Roe v Wade. But that doesn't mean we won't be hearing about this issue ahead of the November election.
On Tuesday night, a group of state Democrats held a demonstration outside a primary night watch party in Issaquah for state Republicans. It's a clear sign that Democrats plan to place the abortion issue front and center heading into the November election, locally and perhaps nationally. It's a very personal and intimate issue, but it's also a smart strategic move. A recent poll indicates that abortion is a top issue for Washington voters, and a majority of voters oppose the overturning of Roe v Wade. Nationally, Americans who identify as "pro-choice" are near record highs at 55%, according to a recent Gallup poll. There's also a Pew survey which found that 61% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. An early indication of how voters will respond to the issue just happened in Kansas where voters rejected a state amendment that aimed to block any right to abortions.
Kansas is just one case, and there may be differences from poll to poll, but the trend seems clear, and that makes Democrats' message simple: Most of us have this opinion, and Republicans don't share it. That was the sentiment from Democrat Kim Schrier on primary election night. Schrier came away with 49% of the primary vote, and used that evening's spotlight to remind voters "that a woman's right to make her own health-care decisions is on the ballot this year."
There is, of course, nuance among voters and this issue. Pro-choice-voter-A may have different perspectives on the issue than abortion-rights-voter-B. And abortion is just one issue on voters' minds. There's also inflation, gas prices, rising trends in shootings and crime, among others. Campaign ads should be interesting to watch in the months ahead. KUOW's Amy Radil has more on this story here.
Housing. It's not just for rich people. That's one the big takeaway I got from Gregg Colburn's conversation with KUOW. Colburn is an assistant professor of real estate at the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments. He is co-author of the new book "Homelessness is a Housing Problem."
Now, you might read that book title and say, "Well, duh!" But think about it. Much of the conversation around this issue usually involves points about addiction, mental illness, and other problems that can feed into homelessness. But Colburn points out that those problems exist everywhere. And that begs the question: If such issues are present across the U.S., then why is it that they become exacerbated to the point of homelessness in large cities? Colburn points to Detroit as an example.
"When you think about Detroit, it's the most impoverished city in the country, with the highest level of poverty in the country. And they have a far lower rate of homelessness. We know that poverty causes homelessness, so it's this kind of odd result when you think about it that way. The way that I explain it is that when rent is $600 a month, you can kind of figure it out through familial support, through public assistance, and through low-wage labor. When rent is $1,500 to $2,000 a month, the margin for error is very low. That's what we're living and experiencing here in Seattle. If you slip through the cracks, it's a pretty vicious market to have to find housing in."
I would add that the high costs of renting is just one obscene factor at play. On top of that, we have landlords imposing high minimum-income requirements and deposits. It's expensive. You need a job and time to save up. But to do that, you need a place to live. And to do that, you need a lot of money ... which means you need a decent-paying job ...
When I think about my tough times in life, I've generally had some backup to help me out one way or another. Not everybody has that. And yeah, some folks have some extra challenges on top of it all. It's probably more accurate to say that, instead of homelessness being the result of just one issue, or two issues, it's caused by multiple factors woven together. And maybe having some backup (and a place to live) is what is needed. Check out Colburn's full conversation here.
AS SEEN ON KUOW
Republican voters gathered to watch as primary election results arrived on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Issaquah. Republicans hosted a primary night watch party at the hotel. Outside, Democrats staged a demonstration focosed on abortion rights and Republicans' stances on the issue. (Megan Farmer / KUOW)
DID YOU KNOW?
Today is President Barack Obama's birthday. It's also my mom's birthday (happy birthday mom), but you probably don't know her. So we'll focus on Obama.
Most folks know that Obama grew up in his grandparents' home in Hawaii. He lived on the island of Oahu. In 2017, a property was purchased for the Obamas to build a beach home. And what a home it will be. The shoreline property came with an $8.7 million price tag. But, to me, that is not the most impressive thing about it. This property is already famous — it's Magnum PI's home!
More accurately, it was the setting for Robin Masters' home, which Higgins oversaw and allowed Magnum to live while he solved crimes across Hawaii. And by Magnum, I'm talking about the real deal Tom Selleck Magnum PI from the 1980s.
Sadly (so very, very sadly) the original home from the show has been torn down, which means my fantasies of visiting there wearing my signature Magnum red Hawaiian shirt will never happen. I suppose now, the Secret Service would also have something to say about that. The Obama's have been building a new house there, along with other structures like guest houses. So just in case the Obamas are listening (or the Secret Service), if they ever want to house a PI on the property, I'd like to put my name up for consideration. I can't say that I've ever solved any cases, but I already have the shirt.
ALSO ON OUR MINDS
When you glance into a waterway, you probably expect aquatic life and the occasional piece of trash. But the reality in many urban metropolises is that lurking beneath the surface of any waterway could be an astounding number of... bicycles.