New public polling in Washington’s 2022 United States Senate race was released this week by well-regarded pollster SurveyUSA that shows Democratic United States Senator Patty Murray comfortably ahead of Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley with less than a month to go until the August Top Two election.
51% of five hundred and ninety-six likely voters interviewed online from July 6th through July 10th by SurveyUSA expressed support for Murray, while 33% backed Smiley and 16% were undecided.
“The eighteen-point spread is the best result for Murray in any of the half-dozen publicly released polls in the last year,” wrote The Seattle Times’ David Gutman.
This is indeed the best spread yet for Murray in public polling, matching what SurveyUSA found all the way back in the autumn of last year, and it’s due to a weaker number for Smiley than we’ve seen in any of our surveys.
Half of those half dozen publicly released polls are NPI’s: together with our partner Public Policy Polling, we polled the U.S. Senate race in November of 2021, February of 2022, and again just last month, as well as in May of 2021.
Our most recent finding (June of 2022) found Murray at 51%. That’s the exact same number she received in SurveyUSA’s poll. Where our polling and SurveyUSA’s diverge is Tiffany Smiley’s level of support. Our polls have found fewer undecided voters and more Smiley supporters than SurveyUSA’s have.
I say polls (plural) because this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this divergence.
Last autumn, SurveyUSA did a poll of the Senate race just for KING5, and found an eighteen point lead for Murray. Then, as now, the percentage Murray got was pretty close to ours, but Smiley’s percentage was a bit lower, which resulted in a bigger spread for Murray, who has won five consecutive Senate elections.
How NPI/PPP’s polling compares to SurveyUSA’s polling
|October — November 2021
|June — July 2022
|NPI and PPP
|13 point spread
|11 point spread
|SurveyUSA and partners
|18 point spread
|18 point spread
Smiley is Murray’s best funded challenger, with millions and millions raised, and has the backing of the Washington State Republican Party and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. She’s expected to get through the August Top Two election and become Murray’s general election opponent.
But her path to victory is steep. Washington hasn’t elected a Republican to the United States Senate since 1994. That’s an almost thirty year drought for Republicans in Senate elections. And, as David Gutman’s recent reporting demonstrates, Smiley is not running on any specific ideas for strengthening the country. Her campaign is the modern definition of boilerplate. She’s trying to stoke anger with Biden and Murray and ride that sentiment to victory.
But that isn’t the way to build an electoral majority in Washington. Most voters in the Evergreen State vote Democratic for federal and statewide executive department offices. Kim Wyman won three straight Secretary of State contests during the Obama/Trump/Biden years thanks to the support of some Democratic voters. Those voters were comfortable splitting a ticket in that case, but do they want Washington to have a senator who puts Mitch McConnell back in power?
The available public polling suggests the answer is no.
Interestingly, independent voters are evenly split between Murray and Smiley in KING5’s survey despite Smiley’s somewhat mediocre overall level of support.
Each candidate gets 38% of independent voters with 24% undecided.
Democratic and Republican voters are overwhelmingly for their party’s standard bearer as you might expect, but Murray’s edge with Democrats is slightly better than Smiley’s advantage with Republicans.
In our polling, Smiley has done much better with independent voters, but that has not been enough to make her competitive with Murray.
Again, Washington is a Democratic state. It’s out of reach for a Republican candidate like Smiley barring unusual circumstances like crossover support.
SurveyUSA, a longtime partner of KING5, also teamed up with The Seattle Times, the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, and Washington State University’s Murrow College of Communication for this survey.
“SurveyUSA interviewed 825 Washington State adults online 07/06/22 through 07/10/22, using sample provided by Lucid Holdings LLC of New Orleans,” the firm advises in its methodology note.
“Of the adults, 731 were identified as being registered to vote. Of the registered voters, 596 were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote in the November election for United States Senate and were asked the questions which follow. The pool of adult survey respondents was weighted to US Census targets for gender, age, race, education, and home ownership.”
Ballots for Washington’s August Top Two election were mailed out yesterday and are due back no later than Tuesday, August 2nd at 8 PM Pacific Time.