NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, November 3rd, 2022

Patty Murray has the support of almost seven in ten voters in King County, NPI poll finds

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.

Mur­ray achieved an incred­i­bly impres­sive 70.09% show­ing in the August Top Two elec­tion in King Coun­ty against sev­en­teen oppo­nents, Smi­ley included.

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%

Aggregate responses

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%.

Fol­low this link if you’re inter­est­ed in a detailed primer on the survey’s method­ol­o­gy along with infor­ma­tion about who took the poll.

Now, here are the num­bers from our statewide sur­vey last month:

Data from NPI’s October 2022 statewide survey

QUESTIONThe 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?

STATEWIDE ANSWERS:

  • 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%).

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

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.

If you appre­ci­ate NPI’s research and want it to con­tin­ue in 2023 and beyond, we invite you to become a mem­ber of NPI or make a one-time dona­tion.

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