This autumn, in addition to voting on congressional and legislative elections, voters in King County will have the responsibility of selecting a new Prosecuting Attorney to serve in the county’s executive branch. Longtime incumbent Dan Satterberg is retiring, after having held the post for the better part of two decades.
Two candidates are running to succeed him: Chief of Staff Leesa Manion and Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell, who previously worked in the office.
Our latest research poll, which just returned from the field and asked King County voters about their preferences in this contest, finds that the two candidates are initially tied, with 8% apiece and a whopping 83% not sure who they’d vote for.
However, after the “not sure” voters were given biographical highlights of the candidates, Manion leapt out in front with plurality support and a two-to-one advantage over Ferrell. 41% of the “not sure” respondents said they’d vote for Manion after reading those biographical highlights, while 20% said they’d pick Ferrell.
36% said they still weren’t sure, and 3% said they would not vote.
In the aggregate, Manion had 41% support and Ferrell had 24% support, with 33% not sure and 2% saying they would not vote.
Because this an officially “nonpartisan” contest in which only two candidates filed, it isn’t on the current August Top Two ballot. It will only be on the general election ballot this autumn. But we decided to poll it twice anyway: once this summer and again this fall during the homestretch of the election cycle, to ensure that we would have an earlier set of numbers to compare our autumn findings to.
As these summertime percentages demonstrate, neither contender has much name ID at this juncture. Voters simply aren’t familiar with either of them.
Ferrell has won elections before, but not countywide, which has a much bigger electorate than the City of Federal Way, while Manion is a first-time candidate.
Here’s the text of the questions that we asked and the answers we received:
INITIAL QUESTION: If the November general election for King County Prosecuting Attorney were being held today, who would you vote for?
- Not sure: 83%
- Leesa Manion: 8%
- Jim Ferrell: 8%
FOLLOW-UP QUESTION ASKED OF UNDECIDED VOTERS ONLY: Here’s a short description of the candidates, excerpted from the biographies on their campaign websites.
Leesa Manion is the current Chief of Staff of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, where she has spearheaded projects aimed at protecting public safety, reducing racial disproportionality, strengthening victim services, and holding repeat perpetrators accountable. She also oversees a workforce of nearly 600 employees and an annual budget of $80 million.
Jim Ferrell is the current Mayor of Federal Way. He previously served as a Federal Way City Councilmember and as a King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor, defending victims of crime and working to keep our community safe. Ferrell began his career as a prosecutor for the City of Renton, Washington before moving into the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in 1998.
If you had to choose, who would you vote for?
ANSWERS FROM UNDECIDED VOTERS:
- Leesa Manion: 41%
- Jim Ferrell: 20%
- Not sure: 36%
- Would not vote: 3%
COMBINED ANSWERS (AGGREGATE), BOTH QUESTIONS:
- Leesa Manion: 41%
- Jim Ferrell: 24%
- Not sure: 33%
- Would not vote: 2%
Our survey of 687 likely 2022 King County general election voters was in the field from Friday, July 22nd until today, Tuesday, August 1st, 2022. The poll was conducted entirely online for the Northwest Progressive Institute by Change Research.
Anticipating that there would be a high number of voters saying they weren’t sure when asked about this contest, we developed a two-part question. Since the voter’s pamphlet statement for the November general election has not been mailed to voters yet and isn’t accessible, we opted to source descriptions of the candidates from their own campaign websites, which are available to voters.
This approach allowed us to provide respondents with information about the candidates that is (aside from some light editing) identically worded to what they’d see if they went to each candidate’s website and read their About pages.
Both candidates have garnered a lot of endorsements from local elected officials. For example, Manion has the backing of Satterberg, Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, Assessor John Wilson, and a third of the King County Council. Ferrell, meanwhile, is supported by the likes of Issaquah Mayor Mary Lou Pauly, Des Moines Mayor Matt Mahoney, Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus, Renton Mayor Armondo Pavon, and King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. U.S. Representative Adam Smith is also in Ferrell’s camp.
Democratic Party organizations are mostly for Manion, while police guilds have embraced Ferrell. Ferrell also has the support of LiUNA! Local 242, and the Seattle Building Trades. Manion has UFCW Local 3000 and Teamsters Joint Council 28.
For those who are not regular readers or supporters of our work, it’s important to know that the Northwest Progressive Institute does not endorse candidates, or engage in electioneering for or against any candidate. We are not aligned with either of these Prosecuting Attorney hopefuls. We did not test any negative messages about either candidate in this survey; the only information provided to respondents about them were the biographical details presented above.
As mentioned, this autumn, we plan to poll this contest again and bring you one more Manion v. Ferell finding in advance of the November general election. If you’d like to be notified of when we publish that and other findings, you can sign up to be notified of new Cascadia Advocate posts using the form to the right.