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.