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.
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%).
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.