Next year, Democratic United States Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington will be running for a fifth term as one of the Evergreen State’s two votes and voices in the world’s most deliberative body. National and state Republicans haven’t yet recruited an opponent for Cantwell yet, but NPI’s polling this month finds that if that opponent were former United States Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, a colleague of Cantwell’s for over a decade, Cantwell would win very easily, which suggests that Washington will not be a Senate battleground state in 2024.
Asked whether they would prefer Cantwell or Herrera Beutler if the 2024 U.S. Senate election were being held now, 50% of 874 likely 2024 Washington voters picked Cantwell, while 35% picked Herrera Beutler. Another 14% were not sure.
Herrera Beutler’s percentage exactly matches the percentage of voters who said they would vote for Republican Bruce Dammeier if he were a candidate for governor. (Dammeier is not running and has absolutely no intention of running, a position he made clear to The Seattle Times’ Jim Brunner last Friday.)
35% is also very similar to the percentage we found Republican Susan Hutchison at around five months before the 2018 midterms, the last time that Cantwell was up. Cantwell went on to win by about that same margin, with Democrats also capturing the 8th Congressional District for the first time with Kim Schrier that year. (Schrier was reelected in 2020 and 2022.)
Herrera Beutler, forty-four, was a member of Washington’s federal congressional delegation, representing the 3rd Congressional District (Southwest Washington) from 2011 until the beginning of this year. She was ousted in the August 2022 Top Two election by Republican voters angry with her vote to impeach Donald Trump for inciting the January 6th insurrection against the United States.
The 3rd is now represented by Congresswoman Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D), who defeated militant extremist Joe Kent in the general election by less than 3,000 votes, in one of the most important electoral victories in state history.
Herrera Beutler is said to be pondering running for her old seat, but she’s also being talked about as a candidate for higher office in Republican circles.
However, our research suggests she would not be a formidable opponent for Maria Cantwell. In our polling, since 2016, 35% — 37% is basically the floor for a Republican statewide candidate in a contest for a major statewide office in Washington. In other words, it’s approximately what any Republican can get, whether that Republican is Donald Trump or somebody else. If Herrera Beutler were a compelling candidate, she’d poll higher than the mid-thirties. But she doesn’t.
All the more reason for her to take a pass on this race.
Here’s the question we asked and the answers we received:
QUESTION: If the 2024 general election for United States Senate were being held today and the candidates were Democrat Maria Cantwell and Republican Jaime Herrera Beutler, who would you vote for?
- Maria Cantwell (D): 50%
- Jaime Herrera Beutler (R): 35%
- Not sure: 14%
Our survey of 874 likely 2024 Washington State voters was in the field from Tuesday, March 7th through Wednesday, March 8th, 2023.
The poll utilizes a blended methodology, with automated phone calls to landlines (50%) and online answers from cell phone only respondents (50%).
It was conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) for the Northwest Progressive Institute, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% confidence interval.
Cantwell has the support of about nine of ten Democratic voters, 7% of Republican voters, and 36% of independent voters.
Herrera Beutler has the support of a little over eight out of ten Republican voters, 4% of Democratic voters, and 37% of independents. 27% of independents are not sure, versus 10% of Republicans and 7% of Democratic voters.
Cantwell leads Herrera Beutler in every region of the state except for Eastern and Central Washington, where Herrera Beutler has 52% and Cantwell has 38%. King County voters are enthusiastic about Cantwell, with 64% of them ready to support Cantwell’s reelection and only 21% supporting Herrera Beutler.
The 2024 United States Senate map is tough for Democrats. The party has twenty seats to defend, while Republicans have only eleven. That means Democrats will be mostly focused on defense. They cannot afford to lose more than one Senate seat unless they also gain a seat from the Republicans.
Democratic or independent-held seats Republicans are expected to target:
Washington is currently rated “Solid D” by Cook, Rothenberg, and Sabato.
Given the opportunities for Republicans elsewhere, they’re unlikely to expend much money or effort in Washington State, especially after Tiffany Smiley’s disappointing performance in the 2022 midterms.
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