Governor Inslee delivers the 2020 State of the State Address
Governor Inslee delivers the 2020 State of the State Address at the rostrum of the Washington State House of Representatives (Photo: Andrew VIlleneuve/NPI)

Incum­bent Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee is well posi­tioned to become the first chief exec­u­tive since Dan Evans to be elect­ed to a third term in office, a poll con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute has found.

56% of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans sur­veyed on Octo­ber 14th-15th by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for NPI said they were vot­ing for Inslee, while 40% said they were vot­ing for Repub­li­can chal­lenger Loren Culp, who is the town of Repub­lic’s only law enforce­ment offi­cer. 4% of respon­dents were not sure.

These results sug­gest Inslee could win by a big­ger mar­gin than he did in 2012 when his oppo­nent was then-Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rob McKen­na, or in 2016 when his oppo­nent was for­mer Seat­tle Port Com­mis­sion­er Bill Bryant.

Repub­li­cans have been insist­ing for years that vot­ers are itch­ing to vote Inslee out of office, but this data shows that the oppo­site is true. Vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton State appear to be on the verge of giv­ing Inslee his biggest statewide man­date ever.

For con­text, in 2016, polls done in Octo­ber of 2016 showed Inslee with an aver­age lead of almost nine points over Bryant:

  • Sur­veyUSA con­duct­ed a poll from Octo­ber 31st – Novem­ber 2nd, 2016 that found Inslee at 50% and Bryant at 43%.
  • Elway Research con­duct­ed a poll from Octo­ber 20th–22nd, 2016 that put Inslee at 51% and Bryant at 39%.
  • KCTS 9/YouGov con­duct­ed a poll from Octo­ber 6th–13th, 2016 that had Inslee at 51% and Bryant at 45%.
  • Strate­gies 360/KOMO News con­duct­ed a poll from Sep­tem­ber 29th – Octo­ber 3rd, 2016 that had Inslee at 50% and Bryant at 40%.

Inslee went on to win by almost ten points, earn­ing 54.39% of the vote to Bryan­t’s 45.61%. This time around, it looks like Inslee could win by even more.

A big Inslee win would be sure to shock at least some Repub­li­cans, who appear con­vinced that Inslee’s response to the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic has hurt him.

Oth­er sur­veys have also shown Inslee with a com­fort­able lead over Loren Culp. A recent Sur­veyUSA poll, for exam­ple, found Inslee at 54% and Culp at 40%.

The gov­er­nor enjoys a slight­ly high­er mar­gin in our sur­vey (56% vs. 54%), but it still tracks pret­ty close­ly with Sur­veyUSA’s finding.

(Culp received 40% in both surveys).

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

QUESTION: The 2020 can­di­dates for Gov­er­nor are Demo­c­rat Jay Inslee and Repub­li­can Loren Culp. Who are you vot­ing for?


  • Jay Inslee: 56%
  • Loren Culp: 40%
  • Not sure: 4%

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.

Inslee’s sec­ond term has been char­ac­ter­ized by big changes in the statehouse.

In 2017, Wash­ing­ton’s State Sen­ate flipped Demo­c­ra­t­ic after half a decade of Repub­li­can con­trol, thanks to the vic­to­ry of North­west Pro­gres­sive Foun­da­tion board­mem­ber Man­ka Dhin­gra in the 45th Dis­trict.

In 2018, Democ­rats added sev­en seats to their major­i­ty in the State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and three seats to their major­i­ty in the State Senate.

This year, Democ­rats are attempt­ing to add a few more seats to their majori­ties in each cham­ber. Repub­li­cans’ only seri­ous pick­up oppor­tu­ni­ties appear to be in the 19th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, where Democ­rats are work­ing furi­ous­ly to reelect State Sen­a­tor Dean Takko and State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bri­an Blake.

While the par­ty is anx­ious to defend its coastal seats, it looks set to remain in con­trol of both cham­bers of the Leg­is­la­ture regard­less of what hap­pens in the 19th. That means that Inslee would enter his third term with friend­ly majori­ties on both sides of the rotun­da, which was not the case in either 2013 or 2017.

The gov­er­nor has ambi­tious goals for the 2021 leg­isla­tive session.

In a recent address to North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute sup­port­ers, Inslee out­lined sev­er­al goals for a third term, includ­ing mean­ing­ful cli­mate action, expand­ing health­care, and strength­en­ing pro­tec­tions for work­ing fam­i­lies. Inslee has also cit­ed bring­ing Wash­ing­ton out of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic with as few deaths and bouts of ill­ness as pos­si­ble as a top pri­or­i­ty of his administration.

Culp has stat­ed that if elect­ed, he would rescind most of Inslee’s emer­gency orders. How­ev­er, he is doing his best to cam­paign as a pro-labor Repub­li­can, which is very inter­est­ing. In a state­ment on his cam­paign web­site, he writes:

I will nev­er sign any Right to Work leg­is­la­tion. That is my com­mit­ment to our won­der­ful union work­ers and their families.

I believe in the val­ue and impor­tance of col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing and I believe an hon­est day’s work is worth an hon­est day’s wage. It’s the most impor­tant mech­a­nism we have for deter­min­ing the price and terms of dif­fer­ent types of work in our econ­o­my. And in our society.

Though Culp’s cam­paign has for the most part been play­ing to the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s loy­al base, it’s evi­dent from read­ing his cam­paign web­site that he is now try­ing to appeal to Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Demo­c­ra­t­ic lean­ing voters.

It’s not pos­si­ble to win a statewide race in Wash­ing­ton with just the Repub­li­can base, and Culp’s team appears to have belat­ed­ly fig­ured this out. Unfor­tu­nate­ly for them and the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty, Culp already has a record of deny­ing cli­mate sci­ence and embrac­ing right wing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries.

While Culp has more sup­port than he did a few months ago, that is most­ly due to hav­ing secured a spot on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot, where he is the one and only alter­na­tive to Gov­er­nor Inslee. Dozens of oth­er can­di­dates filed for the posi­tion, but all of them were elim­i­nat­ed in the August Top Two election.

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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

Adjacent posts

5 replies on “Jay Inslee leads Loren Culp by sixteen points in Washington’s 2020 gubernatorial race”

  1. Per­haps next elec­tion cycle. Instead of a hs dropout and Sher­iff of a town small­er than Teni­no. Repub­li­cans can find a hs dropout ex- felon drug deal­er, that could bet­ter rep­re­sent their desire to destroy the state.

  2. What was the per­cent­age of Democ­rats vs Repub­li­can vs Inde­pen­dent ratio? We all know how biased these polls are so please share the sta­tis­ti­cal data. There are over sev­en mil­lion peo­ple in the state of Wash­ing­ton, how many of those sev­en mil­lion were actu­al­ly polled? I have nev­er been polled, nor has any­one I know ever been polled. 

    This com­ment was edit­ed by NPI for com­pli­ance with our com­ment­ing guide­lines.

    1. Kim­ber­lee, polls that have a tru­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple are not skewed or biased. Our poll­ster works hard to ensure that the sam­ple in our polls is tru­ly representative.

      Here is how the sam­ple breaks down by par­ty preference:

      • Demo­c­ra­t­ic: 44%
      • Repub­li­can: 29%
      • Independent/other par­ty: 27%

      Wash­ing­ton is a pre­dom­i­nant­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic state, so the sam­ple would be unrep­re­sen­ta­tive if it had equal num­bers of respon­dents from each of the major par­ties, and pro­duce flawed data.

      Just because you and peo­ple you know have nev­er been called does­n’t mean that pub­lic opin­ion research is untrust­wor­thy. That’s a log­i­cal fallacy.

Comments are closed.