A near majority of likely voters in Washington State say they are planning to vote for the Democratic candidate for United States House in their congressional district as ballots land in millions of mailboxes for the 2022 general election, the Northwest Progressive Institute’s latest statewide poll has found.
49% of 782 respondents surveyed by Public Policy Polling (PPP) for NPI from October 19th-20th expressed a preference for Democrats in U.S. House contests, while 40% expressed a preference for Republicans. 11% were not sure.
The nine point advantage for Democrats is smaller than the twelve point lead we found in our last statewide poll in June, but it’s larger than the six point lead Democrats had on the congressional generic ballot in our February 2022 poll.
A generic ballot question is so named because it doesn’t mention specific candidates. It’s a way of measuring the strength of a party’s brand across either a state (in the case of a statewide poll) or the United States as a whole.
Most congressional districts aren’t drawn to be competitive, however, and the in-district dynamics of those that are can differ substantially from statewide dynamics, so the topline results of a generic ballot question can’t be used to draw conclusions about how individual candidates may fare in battleground districts.
Nevertheless, this data suggests that the Democratic brand in Washington State is in much better shape than it was in 2010, the last time the country had a midterm cycle during the first term of a Democratic president. That year, Democrats were suffering from what NPI’s state-level pollster dubbed “a major enthusiasm gap.”
“Washington has one of the more severe enthusiasm gaps in the country,” PPP’s Dean Debnam explained in a news release published on November 1st, 2010. “Barack Obama won the state by seventeen points in 2008 but those planning to vote this year supported him by only a seven point margin.”
Democrats made a big push at the end of the 2010 cycle to close that gap and were able to save some of their critically endangered incumbents. This year, Democrats begin the voting period in a far more advantageous position.
Here’s our question and the responses:
QUESTION: In the election for U.S. House, are you voting for the Democratic or Republican candidate from your district?
- Democratic candidate: 49% (-2% since June)
- Republican candidate: 40% (+1% since June)
- Not sure: 11% (+1% since June)
Our survey of 782 likely 2022 Washington State midterm voters was in the field from Wednesday, October 19th through Thursday, October 20th. The survey was conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5% at the 95% confidence interval.
It utilizes a blended methodology, with automated phone calls to landlines (50%) and text message answers from cell phone only respondents (50%).
Washington State has a total of ten congressional districts. Six of them are considered safe Democratic and two are considered safe Republican. A ninth district, WA-03 (Southwest Washington) is classified as “Lean Republican,” and the tenth, WA-08 (a cross-Cascades district) is classified as a true tossup district.
|District Number||Classification||Currently Represented By|
|01||Safe Democratic||Suzan DelBene (D)|
|02||Safe Democratic||Rick Larsen (D)|
|03||Lean Republican||Jaime Herrera Beutler (R)|
|04||Safe Republican||Dan Newhouse (R)|
|05||Safe Republican||Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R)|
|06||Safe Democratic||Derek Kilmer (D)|
|07||Safe Democratic||Pramila Jayapal (D)|
|08||Tossup||Kim Schrier (D)|
|09||Safe Democratic||Adam Smith (D)|
|10||Safe Democratic||Marilyn Strickland (D)|
To properly gauge in-district dynamics, it’s important to poll at the congressional district level — and NPI has been doing so, most recently in WA-03 last month.
In that survey, we found that Democratic candidate Marie Gluesenkamp Perez is running a competitive campaign for Congress against Joe Kent, an ultra MAGA Republican opponent who has staked out extreme positions on a number of issues, including reproductive rights and the future of our democracy. Gluesenkamp Perez and Kent prevailed over current U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler in the August Top Two election, putting an end to her reelection bid.
To the north, Democrats and Republicans are locked in another pitched battle in WA-08, a closely divided district that sent Republicans to Congress for decades until Democrats flipped it in the last midterms with Dr. Kim Schrier.
Schrier won reelection in 2020 and is now seeking a third term. Schrier’s Republican challenger this year is extremist Matt Larkin, who unsuccessfully ran for Attorney General in 2020. Larkin defeated Reagan Dunn and Jesse Jensen in the Top Two election and now has the support of the Washington State Republican Party, the NRCC, and other Republican groups for his candidacy.
A plethora of attack ads blasting each of the candidates (some of which are clearly cookie cutter pieces) are currently airing on television stations in the Seattle media market and are set to continue through November 8th.
With control of the House on the line, the decisions that voters in the 3rd and the 8th make this autumn will be hugely consequential not just for Washington and the Pacific Northwest, but the United States as a whole.