Poll Watch: September 22nd, 2022 statewide findings
Poll Watch: September 22nd, 2022 statewide findings

Crosscut/Elway today pub­lished find­ings from a statewide poll look­ing ahead to the Novem­ber 2022 gen­er­al elec­tion that sug­gest Democ­rats remain poised to do well, as they showed they were capa­ble of in last mon­th’s Top Two election.

Notably, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray leads Repub­li­can chal­lenger Tiffany Smi­ley 50% to 37%, with 12% undecided.

Those num­bers are almost iden­ti­cal to our Novem­ber 2021 statewide poll, which found Mur­ray at 50%, Smi­ley at 37%, and 13% unde­cid­ed. In our sub­se­quent statewide polls, Mur­ray has main­tained an advan­tage over Smi­ley, always gar­ner­ing major­i­ty sup­port. Like­wise, in last mon­th’s Top Two elec­tion, Mur­ray won a major­i­ty. She is on track for reelec­tion in a few weeks.

Poll­ster Stu­art Elway char­ac­ter­ized this year’s races as hav­ing “tight­ened up, which is typ­i­cal at this time of year as more vot­ers start to focus on the election.”

How­ev­er, our own polling sug­gests the tight­en­ing in Wash­ing­ton State’s U.S. Sen­ate race hap­pened months ago. We’ve asked about the U.S. Sen­ate race four times this cycle so far: in May of 2021, Novem­ber of 2021, Feb­ru­ary of 2022, and June of 2022. Mur­ray’s lead was six­teen points to start, dropped to thir­teen in Novem­ber of 2021, shrank to nine in Feb­ru­ary, and widened to eleven in June.

If Mur­ray’s advan­tage is indeed about thir­teen points at this junc­ture, that is a bet­ter spread for her than what we have found in either of our polls this year.

Tiffany Smi­ley had plen­ty of com­pe­ti­tion to take on Pat­ty Mur­ray in the August Top Two elec­tion, but in the gen­er­al elec­tion she’ll be Mur­ray’s sole opponent.

If we add up the votes received by every can­di­date iden­ti­fy­ing in some way as a Demo­c­rat last month (includ­ing Mur­ray, of course) and then com­pare those with the votes received by every can­di­date iden­ti­fy­ing in some way as a Repub­li­can (includ­ing Smi­ley), we see a spread of between thir­teen and four­teen points (55.3% for all Democ­rats, 41.47% for all Republicans).

A thir­teen point spread in Wash­ing­ton’s U.S. Sen­ate race a lit­tle over a month after cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is entire­ly con­sis­tent with what we saw in the actu­al elec­tion a few weeks ago that mil­lions of peo­ple vot­ed in. There won’t be a “not sure” option on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot, of course, but it won’t be sur­pris­ing if Mur­ray gets some of those unde­cid­ed vot­ers and Smi­ley gets some.

Mur­ray’s mar­gin over Smi­ley may not as be as great as her mar­gin over Repub­li­can (now inde­pen­dent) Chris Vance in 2016, but she appears on course to pre­vail more com­fort­ably over Smi­ley than she did over Dino Rossi in 2010.

Since we don’t know the future, we can’t say what will hap­pen, only what might hap­pen, but this does seem like the most prob­a­ble scenario.

Two Repub­li­can-aligned poll­sters have recent­ly put out data show­ing Smi­ley with­in sin­gle dig­its of Mur­ray. This new find­ing from Crosscut/Elway con­firms that those sur­veys are out­liers. The Trafal­gar sur­vey, in par­tic­u­lar, is just not cred­i­ble, as I explained here on The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate a few weeks ago.

Mean­while, on the gener­ic bal­lot, Elway found that Democ­rats con­tin­ue to enjoy an advan­tage. “Of those sur­veyed, 49% said they want­ed Democ­rats to keep con­trol of Con­gress, includ­ing 39% who said that was ‘impor­tant.’ Anoth­er 41% said they’d like Repub­li­cans to take at least one cham­ber of Con­gress, includ­ing 29% who called it ‘impor­tant’ to do so,” Cross­cut’s Joseph O’Sul­li­van report­ed.

The spe­cial elec­tion for Sec­re­tary of State is a dif­fer­ent sto­ry than the U.S. Sen­ate race. There, Crosscut/Elway found Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent Steve Hobbs bare­ly ahead of inde­pen­dent chal­lenger Julie Ander­son, the cur­rent Pierce Coun­ty Audi­tor. Hobbs got 31%, while Ander­son got 29% and 40% were undecided.

Ander­son end­ed up as Hobbs’ gen­er­al elec­tion oppo­nent due to Repub­li­can vote-split­ting. Repub­li­can can­di­dates Mark Milos­cia, Bob Hag­glu­nd, and Kei­th Wag­oner frac­tured the Repub­li­can vote so effec­tive­ly that they can­celled each oth­er out, set­ting up a gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot with no Repub­li­can stan­dard bear­er on it.

Hobbs and Ander­son are unknown to many vot­ers across Wash­ing­ton in part because they are run­ning statewide in a gen­er­al elec­tion for the first time.

Hobbs, appoint­ed by Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee last autumn, is the first Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sec­re­tary of State in more than fifty years. To retain the office, he needs to at a min­i­mum con­sol­i­date the sup­port of Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Demo­c­ra­t­ic-lean­ing vot­ers, who are a major­i­ty of the elec­torate in Washington.

Hobbs received only 42% of the vote in Sno­homish Coun­ty, home to the 44th Dis­trict he used to rep­re­sent, and only 30% of the vote in Pierce Coun­ty, which Ander­son rep­re­sents, in the Top Two elec­tion. He did much bet­ter in King Coun­ty, gar­ner­ing over 55% of the vote against Ander­son and six others.

But as Kim Wyman showed repeat­ed­ly, it’s pos­si­ble to win an elec­tion for Sec­re­tary of State while los­ing King Coun­ty. She did it three times, in fact: in 2012, in 2016, and in 2020. Ander­son will try to use Wyman’s elec­toral recipe — Slade Gor­ton’s boa con­stric­tor strat­e­gy — to upset Hobbs this year.

How­ev­er, Hobbs can hold Ander­son off if he per­forms well enough in the state’s swing coun­ties, which include not only Pierce and Sno­homish, but also What­com, Skag­it, Island, Kit­sap, and Thurston. Sno­homish will be cru­cial: Hobbs is from there and Sno­homish can be eas­i­er for a Demo­c­rat to cap­ture than Pierce is.

We at NPI will be polling both of these con­tests next month in our final statewide poll of the cycle with Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling. We under­stand that KING5, The Seat­tle Times, WSU, and the UW also have one more statewide sur­vey planned in con­junc­tion with Sur­veyUSA. So we will be get­ting at least two more cred­i­ble dat­sets for each of these con­tests before Gen­er­al Elec­tion Day 2022.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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