NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Attorney General Bob Ferguson enjoys wide lead over Republican challenger Matt Larkin

A major­i­ty of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans want to keep incum­bent Demo­c­ra­t­ic Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son on the job for a third term, a sur­vey con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute has found.

53% of like­ly Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers sur­veyed last week for NPI by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling (PPP) said they’re vot­ing for Fer­gu­son, while 39% said they’re vot­ing for Repub­li­can chal­lenger Matt Larkin. 8% said they were not sure.

Back in the sum­mer, Larkin beat out two oth­er Repub­li­cans, includ­ing Mike Vas­ka and Brett Rogers, for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to take on Fer­gu­son in the gen­er­al elec­tion. Fer­gu­son secured the sup­port of 55.79% of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans in the August Top Two elec­tion, while Larkin got 23.67% of the vote.

The Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty inex­plic­a­bly did not field a can­di­date against Fer­gu­son at all in 2016, which result­ed in Fer­gu­son hav­ing a Lib­er­tar­i­an oppo­nent on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot. Fer­gu­son won with 67.14% of the vote. 

Now that Fer­gu­son has a Repub­li­can oppo­nent again (his first oppo­nent for Attor­ney Gen­er­al was King Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­ber Rea­gan Dunn in 2012), he can expect a clos­er race. But he’s still posi­tioned to win reelec­tion in a landslide.

Here are the num­bers again, and the exact ques­tion we asked:

QUESTION: The 2020 can­di­dates for Attor­ney Gen­er­al are Demo­c­rat Bob Fer­gu­son and Repub­li­can Matt Larkin. Who are you vot­ing for?

ANSWERS:

  • Bob Fer­gu­son: 53%
  • Matt Larkin: 39%
  • Not sure: 8%

Our sur­vey of six hun­dred and ten like­ly 2020 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, Octo­ber 14th through Thurs­day, Octo­ber 15th.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respondents.

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 4.0% at the 95% con­fi­dence level.

Fer­gu­son’s law­suits against the Trump regime and dis­hon­est ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er Tim Eyman have made him a reviled fig­ure in Repub­li­can cir­cles. Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers, on the oth­er hand, love Fer­gu­son. Most inde­pen­dents like him, too.

Fer­gu­son is a stick­ler for the rule of law and for account­abil­i­ty, which Fer­gu­son’s sup­port­ers say are extreme­ly good attrib­ut­es to have in an Attor­ney General.

Though Fer­gu­son often makes the news for his legal chal­lenges against Don­ald Trump’s White House and agency chiefs, it’s not his only focus. Fer­gu­son has pri­or­i­tized envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and civ­il rights as Attor­ney Gen­er­al in addi­tion to pro­tect­ing Wash­ing­to­ni­ans from unscrupu­lous merchants.

Repub­li­cans say the Attor­ney Gen­er­al ought to be more focused on crime.

“While Bob Fer­gu­son is focused on the wrong Wash­ing­ton, crime in Wash­ing­ton State is grow­ing because local pros­e­cu­tors are stretched too thin,” Larkin says in a state­ment post­ed on his cam­paign web­site.

Lark­in’s state­ment cites data from the FBI for the Seat­tle metro area over a five peri­od, 2013–2018, to but­tress his claims. NPI has not ver­i­fied this data.

How­ev­er, Wash­ing­ton State is more than the Seat­tle metro, and it has been almost two years since 2018 end­ed. Sta­tis­tics can be cher­ryp­icked to sup­port pret­ty much any nar­ra­tive imaginable.

I opened the Crime In Wash­ing­ton 2019 Annu­al Report to see what the Wash­ing­ton Asso­ci­a­tion of Sher­iffs and Police Chiefs have to say about recent inci­dences of crim­i­nal activ­i­ty in Washington.

I noticed the Statewide Crime Pro­file shows two key cat­e­gories of crime as hav­ing seen less inci­dents report­ed, while a third cat­e­go­ry saw only a slight increase:

  • In 2019, Crimes Against Per­sons showed an decrease of 2.9% with 95,294 offens­es report­ed; com­pared to 2018 offens­es report­ed of 98,092.
  • In 2019, Crimes Against Prop­er­ty showed an decrease of 7.9% with 295,906 offens­es report­ed; com­pared to 321,127 offens­es report­ed in 2018.
  • In 2019, Crimes Against Soci­ety showed an increase of 0.9% with 35,156 offens­es report­ed; com­pared to 34,840 offens­es report­ed in 2018.

The above sta­tis­tics refer to “Group A” offens­es — those are as follows:

Ani­mal Cru­el­ty, Arson, Assault Offens­es, Bribery, Bur­glary, Counterfeiting/Forgery, Destruction/Damage/Vandalism of Prop­er­ty, Drug/Narcotic Offens­es, Embez­zle­ment, Extortion/Blackmail, Fraud Offens­es, Gam­bling Offens­es, Homi­cide Offens­es, Human Traf­fick­ing Offens­es, Kidnapping/Abduction, Larceny/Theft Offens­es, Motor Vehi­cle Theft, Pornography/Obscene Mate­r­i­al Offens­es, Pros­ti­tu­tion Offens­es, Rob­bery, Sex Offens­es, Non-Forcible Sex Offens­es, Stolen Prop­er­ty Offens­es, and Weapon Law Vio­la­tions; in Wash­ing­ton State, an addi­tion­al Group A offense is col­lect­ed: Vio­la­tion of No Con­tac­t/Pro­tec­tion/An­ti-Harass­ment Order. Group A offens­es include sta­tis­ti­cal data on the inci­dent, all offens­es com­mit­ted, prop­er­ty involved, weapons involved, vic­tim and offend­er demo­graph­ics, arrest infor­ma­tion, and clear­ance status.

In oth­er words, major crimes.

(For Group B offens­es, which include crimes like dri­ving under the influ­ence, bad checks, and dis­or­der­ly con­duct, only arrest data is collected.)

The above is only one slice of data, but it is for the state as a whole, it cov­ers all of the most seri­ous offens­es, it is recent data, and it con­tra­dicts Lark­in’s nar­ra­tive that “crime in Wash­ing­ton State is growing”.

Ridicu­lous­ly, Larkin is run­ning tele­vi­sion ads that empha­size his “law and order” theme while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly sup­port­ing law­break­er Don­ald Trump’s reelection.

Asked by The Seat­tle Times’ Jim Brun­ner (who is a first rate polit­i­cal reporter) to weigh in on Trump’s response to COVID-19, Larkin demurred.

“I don’t have a strong feel­ing,” he said. “If I were him, I would have worn a mask more. I’m not inter­est­ed in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. My focus is here.”

Larkin may not be inter­est­ed in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, but the peo­ple he wants to rep­re­sent are. They dis­ap­prove of Don­ald Trump’s job per­for­mance by a large mar­gin, and three out of five are vot­ing for Joe Biden, accord­ing to our research.

There were twice as many vot­ers who report­ed being unde­cid­ed in the race for Attor­ney Gen­er­al as there were in the race for gov­er­nor. How­ev­er, there isn’t a “not sure” option on the bal­lot. Giv­en that Fer­gu­son secured over 55% of the vote in the August Top Two elec­tion, our team would not be sur­prised if he wins reelec­tion this autumn with clos­er to 60% to the vote.

Vot­ing in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is cur­rent­ly in progress and is set to con­clude on Novem­ber 3rd, 2020 at 8 PM Pacif­ic in Wash­ing­ton State.

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