Steve Hobbs versus Julie Anderson
Steve Hobbs versus Julie Anderson

Wash­ing­ton’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic U.S. Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray con­tin­ues to enjoy a dou­ble dig­it lead over Repub­li­can chal­lenger Tiffany Smi­ley, while Sec­re­tary of State hope­fuls Steve Hobbs and Julie Ander­son are tied at 38% apiece with less than a month until the midterms, a new poll from Strate­gies 360 and KOMO has found.

52% of like­ly vot­ers said they would vote for Mur­ray if the elec­tion were being held today, while 40% said Smi­ley. 8% were not sure. Mur­ray’s lead over Smi­ley was slight­ly larg­er among just reg­is­tered vot­ers (50% to 36%).

That tracks with pret­ty much every oth­er cred­i­ble poll recent­ly tak­en of this race, includ­ing polls done by Elway/Crosscut and NPI’s poll­ster Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling.

Emer­son Col­lege had Sen­a­tor Mur­ray with a slight­ly small­er nine point lead, but even that gap was well beyond the two point mar­gin that Repub­li­can firm Trafal­gar claimed exist­ed in Wash­ing­ton State towards the end of September.

Mean­while, the Sec­re­tary of State’s race is a dead heat.

38% of like­ly vot­ers said they were back­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent Steve Hobbs, while 38% said they were sup­port­ing inde­pen­dent Julie Ander­son. 23% were not sure. The can­di­dates are also tied among reg­is­tered vot­ers: 35% expressed a pref­er­ence for Hobbs, 36% for Ander­son, and 29% were not sure.

Hobbs, appoint­ed by Inslee last autumn to take over for Repub­li­can Kim Wyman, is fac­ing a spir­it­ed chal­lenge from Ander­son, the Pierce Coun­ty Audi­tor, who isn’t affil­i­at­ed with a polit­i­cal par­ty. Ander­son was able to beat out sev­er­al Repub­li­cans for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to take on Hobbs in the gen­er­al elec­tion due to Repub­li­can vote-split­ting (too many rival Repub­li­can can­di­dates can­celling each oth­er out).

In her chal­lenge to Hobbs, Ander­son is backed by many Pierce Coun­ty Demo­c­ra­t­ic polit­i­cal fig­ures, for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Sam Reed and the Main­stream Repub­li­cans, along with many of her fel­low audi­tors, though sev­er­al of the state’s best known audi­tors (like Mary Hall and Pad­dy McGuire) have endorsed Hobbs.

Hobbs is also endorsed by The Seat­tle Times, The Her­ald of Everett, The Stranger, The Asso­ci­a­tion of Wash­ing­ton Busi­ness, the Wash­ing­ton State Labor Coun­cil, and Repub­li­cans like Sen­a­tor Cur­tis King of Yaki­ma, who do not usu­al­ly endorse or cam­paign for Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates in statewide races.

It’s fair to say that Wash­ing­ton vot­ers have nev­er seen a Sec­re­tary of State con­test like this. The posi­tion is ordi­nar­i­ly elect­ed in pres­i­den­tial years, but because of Wyman’s res­ig­na­tion, there’s a spe­cial elec­tion for it this year.

And for the first time in decades, there isn’t a Repub­li­can list­ed on the bal­lot for the office, even though Repub­li­cans con­tin­u­ous­ly held the office for over half a cen­tu­ry pri­or to Hobbs’ appoint­ment. (Repub­li­cans’ win­ning streak for Sec­re­tary of State was even longer than Democ­rats’ win­ning streak for governor!)

As a new appoint­ed statewide exec­u­tive offi­cial, Hobbs does­n’t have the name recog­ni­tion that Jay Inslee, Pat­ty Mur­ray, Bob Fer­gu­son, or oth­er Democ­rats have, and he does­n’t have the ben­e­fit of run­ning in a pres­i­den­tial year.

To fend off Ander­son, Hobbs must build a strong cam­paign in the state’s swing coun­ties, like Pierce, where Ander­son is from.

Hobbs has his­tor­i­cal­ly rep­re­sent­ed part of a swing coun­ty him­self — Sno­homish — which helps, but Hobbs still has to con­nect with vot­ers across a large state and make the case that vot­ers should elect a Demo­c­rat to an office that has been held by Repub­li­cans for most of the life­times of Wash­ing­ton voters.

Ander­son, for her part, is try­ing to pull off a his­tor­i­cal­ly dif­fi­cult task: win a statewide office with­out the back­ing of either major polit­i­cal par­ty. As men­tioned, Ander­son has indi­vid­ual Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Repub­li­can sup­port­ers, but the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty is firm­ly com­mit­ted to Hobbs, while the Repub­li­can Par­ty is back­ing State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Brad Klip­pert’s write-in candidacy.

Hav­ing failed to oust Dan New­house for Con­gress, Klip­pert is now try­ing to car­ry the Repub­li­can stan­dard in the Sec­re­tary of State con­test despite being off the bal­lot. His chances of win­ning are pret­ty much nil, but his pres­ence in the race might affect the out­come, espe­cial­ly if it siphons votes from Anderson.

As we saw in 2020 in the Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor’s race, many Repub­li­can vot­ers don’t want to vote for some­one who isn’t a Repub­li­can. There were a jaw-drop­ping 759,076 write-in votes for Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor in 2020… equiv­a­lent to 20.88% of the total votes cast for the office. In fact, there were so many votes cast for a write-in that the win­ner, Demo­c­rat Den­ny Heck, was elect­ed with only plu­ral­i­ty sup­port. He got 45.61% and fel­low Demo­c­rat Marko Liias got 33.51%.

Hobbs heads into the final weeks with a finan­cial advan­tage. He has raised $639,934.12 in con­tri­bu­tions and spent $387,566.96, with $252,367.16 remain­ing as of his most recent report. Ander­son has raised $272,696.36 and spent $190,308.39, leav­ing $82,387.97 as of her most recent report.

Bal­lots will be mailed next week and are due back by 8 PM on Novem­ber 8th.

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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