Voters in Washington State’s largest county are pretty happy with the job performance of their Democratic elected officials at the federal, state, and local levels, with Senator Patty Murray’s representation getting the highest marks overall, a poll recently conducted for NPI across all of King County has found.
64% of 2022 likely King County voters surveyed said they approved of Murray’s job performance, while 26% disapproved. 9% were not sure.
That compares to 65% approval / 31% disapproval rating for Governor Jay Inslee, the state’s chief executive, who was elected to a third term in 2020.
While Inslee’s approval percentage is as strong as Murray’s, Murray’s net approval (approval minus disapproval) is four points better… 38%, to Inslee’s 34%.
That makes Murray the highest-rated elected official in the survey, which fielded from July 22nd until the beginning of this month (August 1st).
Also rated in the poll were President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senator Maria Cantwell, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Elections Director Julie Wise, and King County Assessor John Wilson.
Every official was in positive territory, as you can see from the answers below:
QUESTION: Please indicate whether you approve or disapprove of the following elected officials’ job performance.
Senator Patty Murray (Net: 38%)
- Approve: 64%
- Disapprove: 26%
- Not sure: 9%
Governor Jay Inslee (Net: 34%)
- Approve: 65%
- Disapprove: 31%
- Not sure: 4%
Senator Maria Cantwell (Net: 34%)
- Approve: 59%
- Disapprove: 25%
- Not sure: 16%
King County Elections Director Julie Wise (Net: 30%)
- Approve: 43%
- Disapprove: 13%
- Not sure: 44%
Attorney General Bob Ferguson (Net: 28%)
- Approve: 52%
- Disapprove: 24%
- Not sure: 24%
King County Executive Dow Constantine (Net: 24%)
- Approve: 50%
- Disapprove: 26%
- Not sure: 24%
Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz (Net: 21%)
- Approve: 36%
- Disapprove: 15%
- Not sure: 49%
President Joe Biden (Net: 18%)
- Approve: 57%
- Disapprove: 39%
- Not sure: 4%
Vice President Kamala Harris (Net: 14%)
- Approve: 53%
- Disapprove: 39%
- Not sure: 8%
King County Assessor John Wilson (Net: 10%)
- Approve: 26%
- Disapprove: 16%
- Not sure: 58%
Our survey of 687 likely 2022 King County general election voters was in the field from Friday, July 22nd until Tuesday, August 1st, 2022.
The poll was conducted entirely online for the Northwest Progressive Institute by Change Research. The poll has a modeled margin of error of 4.0%.
Although Martin Luther King Jr. County is one of the most Democratic jurisdictions in the whole country, these findings are nonetheless significant. They nicely augment the results of the recent Top Two election in demonstrating that voters prefer continued Democratic governance to a Republican takeover.
As regular readers are likely aware, Republicans have spoken of 2022 repeatedly as the Year of the Red Tsunami. That includes not only national Republicans, but local ones, too. The likes of Tim Eyman, Brian Heywood, and Caleb Heimlich have gleefully fantasized about the prospect of Republicans gaining majorities in not one but both chambers of the Legislature.
For that to happen, though, they’d need to be able to win in suburban legislative districts like the 30th and 47th, which are mostly located in… King County.
And as the just-certified Top Two election results show, voters in Washington State’s biggest population center simply aren’t interested in dumping their Democratic representation and joining up with the Party of Trump.
Voters in King County can see that their Democratic U.S. senators are part of a razor slim majority that has successfully delivered the American Rescue Plan, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Honoring Our PACT Act for veterans, a long overdue postal reform bill, the groundbreaking climate and health focused Inflation Reduction Act, and the confirmation of the most diverse slate of judges ever to be nominated to the federal bench, including new U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
In a field of eighteen candidates for United States Senate this month, a whopping 70.09% of King County voters this month backed Patty Murray. Tiffany Smiley didn’t even crack twenty percent countywide in the Top Two election.
So long as Murray keeps Smiley at bay in big swing counties like Snohomish, Pierce, Kitsap, and Whatcom, she will be on track to easily win another term thanks to the massive level of support she enjoys in King County.
Our team sees no feasible path to victory for Smiley right now. That doesn’t mean Smiley is certain to lose — anything can happen in politics — but there would have to be a political earthquake to create an opening for Smiley.
There used to be a time — and it wasn’t even that long ago — when Republicans were competitive in King County. Voters once entrusted governance of the county to Republicans like John Spellman and Louise Miller. (Executive Spellman notably went on to become the last Republican to win the governorship, in 1980.)
Those days are over. Republicans have almost completely forfeited the arena of King County politics to the Democrats. Not a single Republican holds countywide office anymore, or represents the county in Congress. No legislative district with a majority of its precincts in King County has Republican representation. It is not uncommon to see two Democrats facing off in contests in King County, as was the case last year when Joe Nugyen challenged Dow Constantine for Executive.
It is nevertheless possible to win statewide while losing King County, as former Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman demonstrated three times.
But for Slade Gorton’s “boa constrictor strategy” to work, a Republican candidate like Smiley needs to be able to appeal to at least some of the Democratic-leaning voters in King County. That’s important to building a statewide majority of voters. Even peeling off just a few voters in King County can make a difference.
Wyman, for example, outperformed gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna in 2012 in King County. He got 37.64% of the vote; she got 39.05%. (Wyman eked out a narrow victory that year over Democratic rival Kathleen Drew.) Wyman also outperformed Bill Bryant in 2016, getting 41.3% while Bryant got 32.15%.
It is hard to see Tiffany Smiley even equaling Bryant’s performance this fall.
Republicans have touted Smiley as a perfect foil for Murray, but aside from raising a lot of money, her campaign has fallen completely flat, with a huge emphasis on boilerplate in campaign materials and ineffective critiques based primarily on the longevity of Murray’s length of service in office. Murray’s campaign, meanwhile, has made sure voters know that Smiley is opposed to reproductive rights and would put Mitch McConnell back in charge of the United States Senate.
No independent public poll has shown Smiley close to Murray, let alone ahead.
Our research suggests a slightly closer race than either Crosscut/Elway or SurveyUSA and its partners, prompting right wing talk show host Jason Rantz to recently cite our polling on-air when promoting Smiley’s candidacy.
Rantz neglected to mention, of course, that we have consistently assessed that Tiffany Smiley is not putting Washington in play for the Republicans every single time we’ve released one of our U.S. Senate poll findings.
Even if Smiley were running the best possible campaign Washingtonians have seen from a Republican in the twenty-first century, she’d still have to contend with Murray’s advantage in King County. As today’s polling release shows, voters here are not voting for Murray reluctantly. More than three in five have a positive view of Murray’s job performance, and Murray has a better net job performance rating than any other high profile elected official around. That is a key reason why Murray is well positioned to easily prevail over Smiley this autumn.