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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, July 14th, 2022

Poll Watch: SurveyUSA finds Patty Murray ahead of Tiffany Smiley by eighteen points

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

Time­frameOcto­ber — Novem­ber 2021June — July 2022
NPI and PPP13 point spread11 point spread
Sur­veyUSA and partners18 point spread18 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.

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