Washington State’s senior United States Senator Patty Murray has reestablished a double digit lead over her Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley with two months to go until the deadline to return ballots in the August 2022 Top Two election, NPI’s most recent statewide survey of the Washington State electorate has found.
51% of 1,039 likely 2022 Washington State voters said they would vote for Murray if the election were being held today, while 40% said they would vote for Smiley, Murray’s likely general election opponent. 8% were not sure.
In February 2022, Murray’s lead stood at nine points, down from thirteen back in November of 2021 and sixteen points one year ago (May 2021). Now it’s eleven points. That means Murray’s advantage is once again in the double digits.
In each of our statewide surveys this cycle, Murray has received support of fifty percent or greater. This consistent majority support indicates, as I’ve previously written here, that Murray is well positioned for reelection. Tiffany Smiley has excited the Republican base and raised a lot of money, but has not succeeded in putting Washington State in play for the Republican Party this cycle.
Republicans have a long history of incorrectly insisting that Murray is vulnerable:
- They argued Murray was vulnerable in 1998, when they recruited Linda Smith to run against her. Murray won reelection.
- They argued Murray was vulnerable in 2004, when they recruited George Nethercutt to run against her. Murray won reelection.
- And they argued Murray was vulnerable in 2010, when they recruited Dino Rossi to run against her. As before, Murray won reelection.
Republicans made less of an effort to challenge Murray during her most recent campaign six years ago, when Chris Vance was her general election opponent (Vance has since left the Republican Party), but this year, they seem to be back at it, with D.C. Republicans like Henry Olsen promoting Smiley as a dark horse.
Our team doesn’t see an opening for Smiley. Washington is a reliably Democratic state that has not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1994, and there’s no sign of that changing this year. Washingtonians may be frustrated by Capitol Hill gridlock and inaction on important issues, but that doesn’t mean they want to be represented by a Republican who’ll do Mitch McConnell’s bidding.
In just a few weeks, Washington voters will start receiving ballots and it will be time to vote in the initial round of Washington’s two part general election.
For Smiley to make this a real race, she’d need to be gaining ground — and our latest survey indicates she isn’t doing that. Instead, Smiley’s stalled out, despite Republican claims that the national environment is deteriorating for Democrats.
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: 51%
- Tiffany Smiley: 40%
- Not sure: 8%
Our survey of 1,039 likely 2022 Washington State voters was in the field from Wednesday, June 1st through today, Thursday, June 2nd, 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 +/- 3.0% at the 95% confidence interval.
Murray’s approval rating is also virtually unchanged from February:
QUESTION: Do you approve or disapprove of Senator Patty Murray’s job performance?
- Approve: 45%
- Disapprove: 42%
- Not sure: 12%
Murray’s approval was 46% in February, with 42% disapproving; now it’s 45% who approve and 42% who disapprove. Statistically, that’s the same result.
As I often say when we release new polling data, this finding is a snapshot in time. Electoral dynamics can change. Polls cannot predict what will happen, they just make it easier to get a sense of what could happen and is most likely to happen. The most likely outcome in this race, based on NPI’s research and other available public opinion polling (including surveys done by KING5/SurveyUSA) is another successful reelection for Senator Patty Murray.
Again, as the chart below makes clear, Patty Murray has never received less than fifty percent in our polling and has never trailed Smiley. In contrast, when former state Senator Dino Rossi declared that he was challenging Murray in 2020, some polls showed him ahead. That has not been the case this time around.
In just two months’ time, we’ll have actual initial election results to study instead of just polling, which will be illuminating. We plan to poll this race one more time, in October, which will be the fifth time that we will have checked in with voters about their preferences for U.S. Senate this cycle. We look forward to bringing you that finding during the final weeks of these midterm elections.