Poll Watch: Inslee vs. Culp
Poll Watch: Inslee vs. Culp

Wash­ing­ton State’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic tick­et is well posi­tioned for vic­to­ry in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, a new poll by Sur­veyUSA for KING5 has found.

With less than a month to go until vot­ing ends, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee has a four­teen point lead over his Repub­li­can chal­lenger Loren Culp, while Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son has an eleven point lead over his Repub­li­can chal­lenger Matt Larkin. (Both Inslee and Fer­gu­son are Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bents.) Mean­while, in the con­test for Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor, which has two Demo­c­ra­t­ic final­ists, U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Den­ny Heck leads Sen­a­tor Marko Liias by thir­teen points.

The clos­est race by far is that of Sec­re­tary of State, which pits NPI’s Gael Tar­leton against Repub­li­can incum­bent Kim Wyman (who, like Inslee, and Fer­gu­son, is seek­ing a third term). The sur­vey found Wyman with a lead of just five points, which is small­er than her mar­gin of vic­to­ry in the August Top Two election.

Here are the num­bers for each statewide exec­u­tive race for comparison:

RaceCur­rent­ly LeadingCur­rent­ly TrailingUnde­cid­ed
Gov­er­norJay Inslee: 54%Loren Culp: 40%6%
Lieu­tenant GovernorDen­ny Heck: 31%Marko Liias: 18%52%
Attor­ney GeneralBob Fer­gu­son: 49%Matt Larkin: 38%13%
Sec­re­tary of StateKim Wyman: 45%Gael Tar­leton: 40%14%

Sur­veyUSA also found 55% sup­port for Joe Biden and 34% sup­port for Don­ald Trump in the pres­i­den­tial race. A sim­i­lar per­cent­age indi­cat­ed sup­port for Wash­ing­ton State’s com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion law, which is on the bal­lot as Ref­er­en­dum 90. 52% said they would vote Approved, while 34% said they would vote Reject­ed. 14% said they were undecided.

The sur­vey’s method­ol­o­gy was as follows:

The poll, which was con­duct­ed by Sur­veyUSA, sur­veyed 850 adults in Wash­ing­ton state from Octo­ber 8th-12th. Of those adults, 591 were like­ly Novem­ber vot­ers, and 290 watched the guber­na­to­r­i­al debate. Poll respon­dents were rep­re­sen­ta­tive of statewide demo­graph­ics with 36% iden­ti­fy­ing as a Demo­c­rat, 24% as Repub­li­can and 29% as Inde­pen­dent. Half were from the metro Seat­tle area, one-third were from west­ern Wash­ing­ton and 17% were from east­ern Washington.

Pre­vi­ous Sur­veyUSA polls found Inslee with an even big­ger lead over Culp, but those were con­duct­ed before Culp beat out a big field of Repub­li­cans for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to take on Inslee. With Culp now on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot, he’s con­sol­i­dat­ed the sup­port of Repub­li­can and Repub­li­can lean­ing vot­ers. How­ev­er, that’s prob­a­bly about the extent of the bump he’s going to get.

Only 6% of respon­dents say they are unde­cid­ed in the guber­na­to­r­i­al race, and Sur­veyUSA found Inslee’s posi­tion to be about as good as that of Joe Biden’s.

Repub­li­cans love to fan­ta­size about the prospect of a red tsuna­mi in Wash­ing­ton State. But this is a pipe dream. Wash­ing­ton has not been a swing state in decades. There’s no data to sup­port Caleb Heim­lich’s claim that vot­ers are just itch­ing for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to put Repub­li­cans in charge of state government.

It is def­i­nite­ly pos­si­ble for a Repub­li­can to win statewide in Wash­ing­ton, as Kim Wyman and her pre­de­ces­sors have proven, but only by attract­ing some sup­port from Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Demo­c­ra­t­ic lean­ing vot­ers who are will­ing to split a tick­et. Wyman can­not win with just the Repub­li­can base, and she cer­tain­ly knows it.

The rest of the Repub­li­can tick­et seems to be cam­paign­ing under the illu­sion that Wash­ing­ton is a swing state up for grabs and open to elect­ing can­di­dates who open­ly espouse ardent right wing views. But it is not. Don­ald Trump did not car­ry Wash­ing­ton in 2016. Susan Hutchi­son did not car­ry Wash­ing­ton in 2018.

Repub­li­can loss­es in con­se­quen­tial statewide races actu­al­ly pre­date the Trump error by sev­er­al decades. The last Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date to win here was Ronald Rea­gan in 1984. The last Repub­li­can guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date to win here was John Spell­man in 1980. And the last Repub­li­can sen­a­to­r­i­al can­di­date to win here was Slade Gor­ton in 1994. All are deceased: it’s been that long.

Repub­li­cans might wish to be on offense, but they are actu­al­ly on defense.

While Democ­rats look poised to com­fort­ably return their five exec­u­tive incum­bents to new terms (plus keep the Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor’s office in Demo­c­ra­t­ic hands), the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s two incum­bents are in grave danger.

Again, the num­bers bear this out.

State Trea­sur­er Duane David­son was hand­i­ly beat­en by Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Mike Pel­lic­ciot­ti in the August Top Two elec­tion, and as men­tioned, NPI’s Gael Tar­leton is mount­ing a seri­ous chal­lenge to Kim Wyman. She’ll have to come from behind to win, but that was always going to be the case — Wyman is a two-term incum­bent who has appeared on many statewide bal­lots, while Tar­leton has not run out­side of King Coun­ty and the 36th Leg­isla­tive District.

We don’t know what the future holds, but if we go by the data, then we can con­clude there will be anoth­er blue wave as opposed to a red tsunami.

What’s hard­er to know is how big that blue wave will be.

We can say this: The only poll that will be deter­mi­na­tive is the one that will be tak­en of the reg­is­tered vot­ers of Wash­ing­ton Stat until Novem­ber 3rd.

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.

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3 replies on “Poll Watch: Jay Inslee and Bob Ferguson well ahead; race for Secretary of State is close”

  1. I doubt many peo­ple can remem­ber when Wash­ing­ton last had a Demo­c­rat hold that office. I don’t. A check of his­to­ry shows it was Vic Mey­ers who served until 1965.
    It kind of a curi­ous dichoto­my that Democ­rats have dom­i­nat­ed statewide elec­tions even with a Repub­li­can SOS.
    In 2004, Sam Reed was able to put con­science and the state law over par­ty affil­i­a­tion and sup­port­ed the recount that con­firmed the result of the gov­er­nor’s race.
    It would be nice to get a Demo­c­rat to fill that posi­tion as the Repub­li­can par­ty has few­er Sam Reeds and more ide­o­logues who will apply par­ti­san­ship over principle.

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