February 2022: Patty Murray vs. Tiffany Smiley, 2022
Visualization of NPI's February 2022 poll finding showing Patty Murray with a nine point lead over Tiffany Smiley

Welcome to NPI’s Cascadia Advocate! Just a quick heads up: In June 2022, we published a new finding concerning voter preferences in Washington’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, which we recommend reading, as it contains fresher data than this finding from February. Click or tap here to read it.

The 2022 con­test for Unit­ed States Sen­ate in Wash­ing­ton State is tight­en­ing a bit, as Repub­li­can chal­lenger Tiffany Smi­ley gains ground for the first time while Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent Pat­ty Mur­ray holds steady, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s lat­est poll of the Wash­ing­ton State elec­torate indicates.

50% of 700 like­ly 2022 vot­ers sur­veyed yes­ter­day and today by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling (PPP) for NPI said they would vote for Mur­ray if the elec­tion were being held today, while 41% said they would vote for Smi­ley. 9% were not sure.

February 2022: Patty Murray vs. Tiffany Smiley, 2022
Visu­al­iza­tion of NPI’s Feb­ru­ary 2022 poll find­ing show­ing Pat­ty Mur­ray with a nine point lead over Tiffany Smiley

41% is Smi­ley’s best show­ing so far this cycle in our polling, as well as her best show­ing so far in all of the pub­lic polling we know of. In two sur­veys con­duct­ed for NPI last year, in May and Novem­ber of 2021, Smi­ley got 37% both times.

Mur­ray remains ahead by a spread larg­er that the mar­gin of error, has a major­i­ty of sup­port from this pol­l’s respon­dents, and is still favored to win this Novem­ber. But our data sug­gests that Smi­ley is becom­ing more com­pet­i­tive. Her base of vot­ers has grown and the per­cent­age of vot­ers who aren’t sure has shrunk.

Below, each of our find­ings is plot­ted on a chart, show­ing the trend over the course of the cycle. The spread between the two can­di­dates was six­teen points last May, thir­teen points in Novem­ber, and it’s nine points now.

Here’s the full text of the ques­tion we asked, and the answers we received:

QUESTION: If the elec­tion for Unit­ed States Sen­ate were being held today and the can­di­dates were Demo­c­rat Pat­ty Mur­ray and Repub­li­can Tiffany Smi­ley, who would you vote for?


  • Pat­ty Mur­ray: 50%
  • Tiffany Smi­ley: 41%
  • Not sure: 9%

Our sur­vey of 700 like­ly 2022 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Thurs­day, Feb­ru­ary 17th through today, Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 18th, 2022.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (50%) and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents (50%).

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.7% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

More infor­ma­tion about the survey’s method­ol­o­gy is avail­able here.

In relat­ed news, Sen­a­tor Mur­ray’s approval rat­ing has not budged. It was 46% back in Novem­ber when we last checked, and it is 46% again in this sur­vey. How­ev­er, the per­cent­age of vot­ers who dis­ap­prove has gone up a little:

QUESTION: Do you approve or dis­ap­prove of Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Murray’s job performance?


  • Approve: 46%
  • Dis­ap­prove: 42%
  • Not sure: 13%

The per­cent­age of vot­ers iden­ti­fy­ing as Demo­c­ra­t­ic in our sam­ple has decreased ever so slight­ly to 38%, while the num­ber iden­ti­fy­ing as inde­pen­dents has gone up 38%. The per­cent­age iden­ti­fy­ing as Repub­li­can is unchanged (24%). We usu­al­ly see fluc­tu­a­tions like this between sur­veys — sta­tis­ti­cal noise is an inevitable facet of pub­lic opin­ion research — but it’s also pos­si­ble the Demo­c­ra­t­ic brand has got­ten a lit­tle weak­er since the last time we field­ed a statewide poll.

What we’re not see­ing, how­ev­er, is a big surge in affil­i­a­tion with the Repub­li­can Par­ty, which Cross­cut’s poll­ster Stu­art Elway sug­gest­ed was hap­pen­ing. I dis­cussed the prob­lems with Elway’s find­ing in a lengthy post here last month.

The good news for Mur­ray is that even though slight­ly greater per­cent­ages of vot­ers are express­ing a pref­er­ence for Smi­ley and dis­ap­prove of her job per­for­mance, she has not been shed­ding sup­port over the course of this omi­cron-laden win­ter sea­son. Mur­ray remains well posi­tioned for reelection.

Giv­en that it’s been six years since she last appeared on a bal­lot — terms for U.S. sen­a­tors are longer than that for any oth­er office in Wash­ing­ton aside from State Supreme Court jus­tice — Mur­ray would ben­e­fit from increas­ing her vis­i­bil­i­ty. NPI con­trib­u­tor Joel Con­nel­ly has made the case that Mur­ray pri­or­i­tize break­ing out of the pro­tec­tive cocoon that often envelops vet­er­an Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors.

In the last midterm cycle that Mur­ray faced vot­ers in — which was all the way back in 2010 — mul­ti­ple polls showed Mur­ray trail­ing Repub­li­can chal­lenger Dino Rossi after he got into the race, includ­ing polls tak­en in the spring­time. Mur­ray cam­paigned hard, how­ev­er, and secured enough of the vote to declare vic­to­ry on Elec­tion Night, deal­ing Rossi his third con­sec­u­tive statewide loss.

There is no cred­i­ble polling and no pub­lic polling that we’re aware of that shows Tiffany Smi­ley close to being even with Mur­ray or ahead of Murray.

Smi­ley appears to have gained some ground in recent weeks, but this still isn’t a close race — at least not yet. NPI does not pub­lish elec­toral rat­ings, but if we did, we’d still con­sid­er this con­test Safe Demo­c­ra­t­ic as of right now.

Every poll is a snap­shot in time, though, and elec­toral dynam­ics can change. That can’t be said often enough. Polit­i­cal analy­sis ben­e­fits from such disclosures.

We will check back in on this and oth­er statewide con­tests after the ver­nal equinox has arrived and the days are longer and warmer.

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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