Murray vs. Smiley in Spokane: Opening U.S. Senate debate
Murray vs. Smiley in Spokane: Opening U.S. Senate debate

Over the week­end, using a trove of sus­pect polls from Repub­li­can poll­sters as cov­er, Real­Clear­Pol­i­tics point­less­ly reclas­si­fied Wash­ing­ton State’s 2022 U.S. Sen­ate between Pat­ty Mur­ray and Tiffany Smi­ley as a “tossup,” break­ing ranks with every oth­er major fore­cast­er in the elec­tion pre­dic­tion and rat­ings racket.

Cur­rent rat­ings for U.S. Sen­ate in Wash­ing­ton State as tracked by Wikipedia contributors

SourceRank­ingAs of
The Cook Polit­i­cal Report[36]Like­ly DOcto­ber 18, 2022
Inside Elec­tions[37]Like­ly DJuly 1, 2022
Saba­to’s Crys­tal Ball[38]Like­ly DOcto­ber 19, 2022
Politi­co[39]Like­ly DApril 1, 2022
RCP[40]TossupOcto­ber 30, 2022
Fox (FNC)[41]Sol­id DAugust 22, 2022
DDHQ[42]Like­ly DSep­tem­ber 12, 2022
538[43]Like­ly DOcto­ber 19, 2022
The Econ­o­mist[44]Like­ly DSep­tem­ber 7, 2022

The rat­ing change was prompt­ly seized upon by Tiffany Smi­ley’s cam­paign as fod­der for a fundrais­ing email, with fol­low­ers receiv­ing a mis­sive at 9:21 AM Pacif­ic today crow­ing: “Friend, my Sen­ate race is now a TOSS-UP!!! Every­one now is pay­ing atten­tion to this all-impor­tant race. I’ve been telling peo­ple for months that the peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton State are ready for a change. I knew in my gut that this could hap­pen, but every­one count­ed me out.”

Hilar­i­ous­ly, less than two hours before that, at 8:02 AM Pacif­ic, the oper­a­tives run­ning Smi­ley’s cam­paign had sent an email to the list com­plain­ing that Smi­ley’s cam­paign against Mur­ray keeps being “ignored” by the “main­stream media.”

So… which is it? Is “every­one” locked in and “pay­ing atten­tion” to this “all-impor­tant race,” or is Smi­ley still get­ting “ignored”? (It sure seems like dif­fer­ent oper­a­tives are pre­tend­ing to be Smi­ley simul­ta­ne­ous­ly these days…)

Smi­ley’s sil­ly emails aside, for any­one who’s won­der­ing if Real­Clear­Pol­i­tics is on to some­thing that every­one else is miss­ing, let me assure you that they’re not.

They’re sim­ply choos­ing to take a bunch of Repub­li­can-com­mis­sioned and Repub­li­can-polls seri­ous­ly, even though those Repub­li­cans polls are at odds with the cred­i­ble inde­pen­dent pub­lic opin­ion research that’s been done in this race.

Here’s a list of the recent cred­i­ble polls, all from dif­fer­ent poll­sters and sponsors:

Pat­ty Mur­ray’s aver­age per­for­mance in these polls? 51.5%.

Tiffany Smi­ley’s aver­age per­for­mance in these polls? 40.5%.

Cru­cial­ly, Mur­ray is over fifty… the mag­ic number.

In Sen­ate polling going back sev­er­al years, no Demo­c­ra­t­ic U.S. Sen­ate or pres­i­den­tial can­di­date who polled over 50% in the body of cred­i­ble polling has lost accord­ing to an analy­sis by Change Research, anoth­er one of NPI’s pollsters.

Based on polling, this con­test is not a close race or a dead heat. This isn’t 2010, when a detect­ed lack of Demo­c­ra­t­ic enthu­si­asm sug­gest­ed trou­ble for Mur­ray. Per­haps that’s why Repub­li­can firms are putting out this garbage data. Repub­li­cans are not see­ing what they want to see, so they’re try­ing to manip­u­late media cov­er­age and fore­cast­ing to engi­neer a red wave narrative.

They’re not just doing it in Wash­ing­ton State, either. It’s a nation­wide thing. “There is a fero­cious cam­paign GOP cam­paign right now to flood the zone with their polls, game the aver­ages, declare the elec­tion is tip­ping to them,” observed Simon Rosen­berg over the week­end. “No ques­tion they could win but the ear­ly vote and polling this week do not con­firm this trend. Sorry. ”

We can’t know what is actu­al­ly hap­pen­ing right now in the elec­tion because no returns will be pub­lished until the evening of Novem­ber 8th.

No pun­dit, strate­gist, jour­nal­ist, or fore­cast­er knows the future. Polls can’t be used to pre­dict it, either. Even the best, most cred­i­ble polling is mere­ly sug­ges­tive. We can ana­lyze and dis­cuss prob­a­bil­i­ties, but not certainties.

The same goes for bal­lot return sta­tis­tics and oth­er data.

An appro­pri­ate cur­rent rat­ing for Wash­ing­ton’s 2022 U.S. Sen­ate con­test using the log­ic of the elec­tion pre­dic­tion and rat­ings rack­et is “Like­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic” or some­thing sim­i­lar (Fox uses “Sol­id Demo­c­rat.”) Cred­i­ble polling indi­cates that a Pat­ty Mur­ray vic­to­ry is the most plau­si­ble out­come of this con­test. That was the case before Real­Clear­Pol­i­tics pro­nounced it a “tossup” and it’s the case now.

An hon­est and accu­rate rat­ing, how­ev­er, would be the same for every race: We Don’t Know Since We Don’t Pos­sess A Work­ing Crys­tal Ball — Sorry!

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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