A right wing pollster claimed today that Washington’s 2022 contest for United States Senate is “a surprisingly close race” based on a single finding from a survey it conducted last week that dubiously puts Republican Senate hopeful Tiffany Smiley within three points of Democratic incumbent Patty Murray.
The survey, by Trafalgar Group, is uncorroborated by any other public opinion research and is contradicted by the results of last month’s Top Two, an actual election in which almost two million Washingtonians cast ballots.
Trafalgar found Murray at 49.2% and Smiley at 46.3%, with a mere 4.5% undecided. The sample consists of 1,087 likely general election voters, interviewed from August 30th through yesterday, September 1st.
Just half a month ago, in the initial round of Washington’s two-part general election, Murray received 52.22% of the vote against Smiley and sixteen other challengers. Smiley, meanwhile, received 33.69% of the vote.
The total vote received by candidates identifying themselves in some form or fashion as Republicans was 41.47%, while the total vote received by Murray and other candidates identifying themselves as Democrats was 55.36%. That is typical of the split we usually see between groups of candidates professing an affiliation with the major parties in Washington State in a post-2016 Top Two election.
The second and final round will most likely consist of an electorate that is larger, more diverse, and more Democratic, yet Trafalgar would have us believe that Murray is now crumbling while Smiley is suddenly soaring. There is no evidence whatsoever to support this contention. Trafalgar’s survey is a classic outlier.
As I say often here on The Cascadia Advocate, the key to credible, accurate polling is neutral questions asked of a representative sample.
Based on what Trafalgar published, I have serious doubts that their sample is properly representative of the likely 2022 Washington November electorate.
Remember, the gap between Murray and Smiley in the Top Two was over eighteen points, about in line with what the credible public polling conducted in the preceding month by Elway Research and SurveyUSA indicated it could be.
This survey puts Smiley’s level of support (46.3%) several percentage points above and beyond the percentage that every Republican Senate candidate combined got in the Top Two. Murray, meanwhile, is supposedly under fifty percent despite having secured more than a majority of the vote against a field of seventeen opponents as of when the election was certified on August 16th.
Sorry, Trafalgar, but that dog won’t hunt.
In the general election, there will be no names on the ballot besides Smiley and Murray. Our own most recent head-to-head poll finding, published at the beginning of June, found Murray eleven points ahead of Smiley in a hypothetical general election matchup. That was back in the spring, before Murray launched her ads, before the gutting of Roe v. Wade, and before the Top Two.
Trafalgar says on its methodology statement page that it conducts its surveys using live callers, integrated voice response, text messages, emails, and “two other proprietary digital methods we don’t share publicly,” which is a red flag.
Subjective organizations are perfectly capable of carrying out objective research, but it appears that Trafalgar’s goal here (given their decision to publish these unsupportable figures) is to bolster Smiley’s longshot candidacy, rather than making a contribution to the body of credible public opinion research in this race.