Democratic United States Senator Patty Murray’s support in King County remains strong and durable, putting her in a good position to win reelection this month despite a multi-million dollar Republican attack campaign, a new county-level poll conducted this week for the Northwest Progressive Institute has found.
68% of voters in our survey said in the aggregate that they had either voted for Murray or would be voting for her, while 27% said they had voted for Murray’s Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley or would be voting for Smiley.
3% were not sure, 1% could not recall who they had voted for and 0% said they did not vote for U.S. Senate or would not vote.
This finding is identical — identical! — to the percentage in the King County subsample of our mid-October 2022 statewide poll who said they were supporting Murray, which was also 68%. (The percentage backing Smiley in our statewide poll’s King County subsample was 26%. Another 6% were not sure.)
The alignment suggests that both of our polls — conducted weeks apart by different firms using different methods — were soundly conducted and each have representative samples, which is always our aim with every poll that we do.
Republican firms have put out some garbage polls this week and last week suggesting that the race is a dead heat. RealClearPolitics was successfully baited into declaring the race a “tossup,” while a number of mass media outlets have run stories suggesting that Murray faces the prospect of being defeated in an upset.
It’s chaotic and unpredictable election, so anything can happen, but all of the credible data that we have suggests Patty Murray is going to be just fine. This latest poll finding is a very welcome additional confirmation of previous data.
That 70.09% figure is important because it’s from an actual election that millions of voters cast ballots in. It’s something we can rely on for comparative purposes.
With 68% being just two points shy of 70%, what our polling indicates is that the torrent of Republican attack ads on television and streaming services has been laughably unsuccessful in gutting Murray’s support in the state’s largest county.
King County is only a portion of the State of Washington, so you might be wondering, why is a county-level U.S. Senate poll finding so significant?
It is significant because it shows that there hasn’t been movement towards the Republicans in the vote-rich heart of Washington State these past few days.
This survey just came back from the field today. This data is hours old.
And it indicates that this race is quite stable and free of drama. Little has changed despite Republicans’ frantic efforts to put Washington into play.
We see no plausible path to victory for Tiffany Smiley against Patty Murray if she gets pummeled in King County in this election.
It is definitely possible for King County to be outvoted — we’ve seen Slade Gorton’s boa constrictor strategy employed a number of times, including by Tim Eyman initiatives and by Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman.
But the boa constrictor strategy only works if the numbers for the Republican side in the big swing counties are really good and the numbers for the Democratic side in King County aren’t that good. And in this contest, we just aren’t seeing that.
Voters in King County like Patty Murray. They like the job she’s doing. She and President Biden are both popular. Biden has a 67% approval rating among the voters we surveyed this week, while Murray is right behind the President at 65%. Governor Jay Inslee also achieved a 65% approval rating in this survey. Murray’s popularity has changed little since our last countywide survey in the summer, which is another indication that the Republican attack ads simply aren’t working.
Republicans are free to dismiss our polling and say we’re full of it, but elections going back many years have vindicated our electoral public opinion research.
In 2020, for example, NPI was the only organization to publicly poll up and down the statewide ballot, and in every single contest, the candidate who led in our survey won. We also nailed the dynamics of Referendum 90, concerning comprehensive sexual health education, finding that voters were poised to approve it.
We believe that polling cannot predict the future. Credible polling can, however, suggest what is plausible. Here, the most likely outcome is a Patty Murray victory.
Patty Murray’s closest ever reelection win was in 2010, when she defeated Republican Dino Rossi by 118,766 votes statewide (52.36% to 47.64%).
Rossi was able to win some important swing counties, like Pierce, Clark, Spokane, and Skagit, but he could not defeat Murray statewide. Murray’s strength in King County and in counties like Snohomish proved too much for Rossi to overcome.
In that 2010 matchup — a contest that our pollster found Rossi ahead in just days before Election Day — Rossi got 35.08% of the vote in King County.
This year, it looks like Smiley may fall several points short of Rossi’s mark in King County. She already failed to equal Rossi’s performance in the Top Two back in August. The same dynamic looks set to repeat again this month.
Our team thinks that’s going to be a fatal problem for Smiley.
Here’s the exact questions we asked and the responses we received:
Already voted (King County only!)
QUESTION: In the election for U.S. Senate, who did you vote for?
Respondents who told us that they had already voted were shown this question.
- Patty Murray (D): 75%
- Tiffany Smiley (R): 22%
- Do not recall: 2%
Haven’t yet voted (King County only!)
QUESTION: The candidates for U.S. Senate in Washington are listed below in the order they appear on the general election ballot. Who are you voting for?
Respondents who told us that they had not yet voted were shown this question.
- Patty Murray (D): 58%
- Tiffany Smiley (R): 32%
- Not sure: 10%
FOLLOW-UP QUESTION ASKED OF UNDECIDED VOTERS ONLY: If you had to choose, who would you vote for?
- Patty Murray (D): 16%
- Tiffany Smiley (R): 9%
- Not sure: 66%
- Would not vote: 9%
COMBINED ANSWERS (AGGREGATE), ALL QUESTIONS:
- Patty Murray (D): 68%
- Tiffany Smiley (R): 27%
- Do not recall: 1%
- Not sure: 3%
- Did not vote on this: 0%
- Would not vote: 0%
Patty Murray’s name was always shown to respondents first and Tiffany Smiley’s name was always shown second. (That is the order the candidates are listed on the general election ballot.) The candidates’ photographs from the voter’s pamphlet statement were shown to voters alongside their names.
Our survey of 740 likely 2022 King County general election voters was in the field from Friday, October 28th until today, Thursday, November 3rd.
The poll was conducted entirely online for the Northwest Progressive Institute by Change Research and has a modeled margin of error of 4.0%.
Now, here are the numbers from our statewide survey last month:
Data from NPI’s October 2022 statewide survey
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)
KING COUNTY ANSWERS:
- Patty Murray (D): 68%
- Tiffany Smiley (R): 26%
- Not sure: 6%
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%).
So: 68% and 68% for Murray; 26% and 27% for Smiley.
Again, these figures come from two polls conducted weeks apart by different pollsters at different levels (state, county) using different surveying methods.
Yet the numbers line up beautifully — because this is a contest with stable dynamics and because we and our pollsters followed the scientific method.
It’s exciting to have fresh data available to confirm our previous polling and bolster our assessment that Patty Murray is well positioned for reelection.