Visualization of NPI's October 2022 U.S. Senate poll finding
Visualization of NPI's October 2022 U.S. Senate poll finding. The boxes with the percentage changes refer to the difference in the figures from NPI's last statewide poll in June of 2022.

Vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton State appear poised to once again return vet­er­an Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent Pat­ty Mur­ray to the Unit­ed States Sen­ate, a statewide sur­vey con­duct­ed this week for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute confirms.

Asked about their pref­er­ences in this year’s Sen­ate race from Octo­ber 19th-20th, 52% of 782 like­ly 2022 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers said they planned to vote for Mur­ray. 42% said they planned to vote for Repub­li­can chal­lenger Tiffany Smiley.

6% were not sure.

Visualization of NPI's October 2022 U.S. Senate poll finding
Visu­al­iza­tion of NPI’s Octo­ber 2022 U.S. Sen­ate poll find­ing. The box­es with the per­cent­age changes refer to the dif­fer­ence in the fig­ures from NPI’s last statewide poll in June of 2022.

This find­ing demon­strates that Mur­ray con­tin­ues to enjoy a dou­ble dig­it lead over Smi­ley despite a recent tor­rent of ads from Smi­ley’s cam­paign false­ly denounc­ing her as a do-noth­ing sen­a­tor who has­n’t accom­plished any­thing — a ridicu­lous char­ac­ter­i­za­tion that drew a rebuke from The Seat­tle Times edi­to­r­i­al board.

Mur­ray earned 52% of the vote in the Top Two elec­tion in August, while Smi­ley received 33.69%. The com­bined field of Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates received a total of 55.36% and the com­bined field of Repub­li­cans received 41.47%.

In addi­tion to earn­ing an out­right major­i­ty in the first round of Wash­ing­ton’s two-part gen­er­al elec­tion, Mur­ray has con­sis­tent­ly received sup­port of fifty per­cent or greater in every sur­vey that we’ve com­mis­sioned this cycle.

Oth­er recent polls that have field­ed since Labor Day have also found Mur­ray ahead of Smi­ley by dou­ble dig­its, includ­ing one con­duct­ed by Elway/Crosscut, one con­duct­ed by KOMO/Strategies 360, and one con­duct­ed by our own poll­ster Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for anoth­er client. A poll con­duct­ed by Emer­son Col­lege had Mur­ray ahead by nine points, just shy of a dou­ble dig­it threshold.

Lack­ing evi­dence that Smi­ley is a seri­ous threat to Mur­ray, Repub­li­can oper­a­tives in August com­mis­sioned their poll­sters (notably the Trafal­gar Group) to gen­er­ate num­bers show­ing that Smi­ley is com­pet­i­tive. Trafal­gar pro­ceed­ed to pro­duce two sur­veys claim­ing Smi­ley was right behind Mur­ray, which were then prompt­ly con­tra­dict­ed by cred­i­ble polls from the firms men­tioned in the para­graph above.

Since Mur­ray already has major­i­ty sup­port, there real­ly isn’t an open­ing for Smi­ley in this con­test. Even if all the unde­cid­ed vot­ers end­ed up in her camp — which they prob­a­bly won’t — Mur­ray would still win reelection.

Here’s the ques­tion we asked and the respons­es we received:

QUESTION: The can­di­dates for Unit­ed States Sen­ate in Wash­ing­ton State are Demo­c­rat Pat­ty Mur­ray and Repub­li­can Tiffany Smi­ley. Who do you plan to vote for in the election?


  • Pat­ty Mur­ray (D): 52% (+1% since June)
  • Tiffany Smi­ley (R): 42% (+2% since June)
  • Not sure: 6% (-2% 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%).

More infor­ma­tion about the survey’s method­ol­o­gy is avail­able here.

The inter­ac­tive chart below shows the trend over the course of the cycle. As we can see, Mur­ray has received major­i­ty sup­port in every sin­gle one of our polls.

Previous U.S. Senate poll finding analyses

That mag­ic num­ber of fifty is what anoth­er one of our poll­sters (Change Research of Cal­i­for­nia) says you should pay atten­tion to when eval­u­at­ing elec­toral polls.

“Ignore polling mar­gins,” the firm advised in a recent newslet­ter. “For any race, think about the mag­ic num­ber: 50. If one can­di­date is polling around 50 per­cent and the oth­er isn’t, you can have more con­fi­dence in the outcome.”

“In U.S. Sen­ate and pres­i­den­tial polling from 2014 to 2020, Democ­rats won all 18 races where they polled at 49 per­cent or high­er. Democ­rats who polled at 48 per­cent won 63 per­cent of the time. How­ev­er, only 19 per­cent of Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates polling between 45 per­cent and 47 per­cent went on to win, and Democ­rats have lost every race where they polled under 45 percent.”

Here, we have one can­di­date polling above fifty per­cent (Mur­ray) and one who isn’t (Smi­ley). Mur­ray has a track record of win­ning even against can­di­dates Repub­li­cans have repeat­ed­ly and loud­ly insist­ed would take her down in cycles past, like Lin­da Smith, George Nether­cutt, and Dino Rossi.

We see no evi­dence that Smi­ley is posi­tioned to jeop­ar­dize that win­ning streak. Our assess­ment remains unchanged: Pat­ty Mur­ray is on track for reelection.

This isn’t 2010, when Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling found Rossi com­pet­i­tive with Mur­ray up until right before Elec­tion Day. It’s 2022. We are in a dif­fer­ent polit­i­cal age… an age in which Democ­rats have a much more durable advan­tage in the sub­urbs and exurbs thanks in part to the polit­i­cal realign­ment spurred by sociopath Don­ald Trump’s fright­en­ing and con­se­quen­tial 2016 Elec­toral Col­lege victory.

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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