NPI poll finding: 2024 Washington State gubernatorial race as of June 2023
Visualization of NPI's June 2023 gubernatorial poll finding, which asked respondents about a field of five declared candidates (Northwest Progressive Institute)

Demo­c­ra­t­ic Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son is the cur­rent fron­trun­ner in the increas­ing­ly crowd­ed con­test to suc­ceed out­go­ing Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee as Wash­ing­ton State’s next chief exec­u­tive, a new poll con­duct­ed this week for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling has confirmed.

25% of 773 respon­dents inter­viewed June 7th and 8th for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute said that they pre­ferred Fer­gu­son for Governor.

17% said they favored Repub­li­can Raul Gar­cia. 10% say they’d vote for ultra MAGA Repub­li­can Semi Bird. 9% said they pre­ferred anoth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­tender: Hilary Franz, the cur­rent Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands. Anoth­er 7% back a third Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date, State Sen­a­tor Mark Mullet.

33% of respon­dents said they were not sure.

In NPI’s last sea­son­al sur­vey, which field­ed in March, we asked 874 respon­dents, also a group of like­ly 2024 vot­ers, to react to a hypo­thet­i­cal field of can­di­dates for gov­er­nor. That group includ­ed Fer­gu­son and Franz along with two coun­ty exec­u­tives who have tak­en them­selves out of the run­ning: King Coun­ty’s Dow Con­stan­tine, a Demo­c­rat, and Pierce Coun­ty’s Bruce Dammeier, a Republican.

Fer­gu­son was the lead­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date in that sur­vey, with 21%, while Repub­li­can vot­ers grav­i­tat­ed to Dammeier, the only option we gave them.

When that poll field­ed, we did­n’t know what Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s plans for 2024 were, which was why we asked about a hypo­thet­i­cal field of candidates.

Now we know that Inslee plans to pass the torch. Wash­ing­to­ni­ans will be pick­ing a new gov­er­nor next year. It’s an excit­ing time in state politics.

A lot of peo­ple have either said they’re run­ning for gov­er­nor or are think­ing about doing so. A poll that asked about dozens of declared or poten­tial obscure can­di­dates would­n’t yield use­ful data, so we came up with a set of cri­te­ria to deter­mine which can­di­dates to include. Those cri­te­ria are as follows:

  • Must be an offi­cial­ly declared can­di­date for the office who has filed a C1 with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion (PDC)
  • Must have declared an affil­i­a­tion with a major par­ty (the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty or the Repub­li­can Party)
  • Must have report­ed rais­ing at least $50,000 in ear­ly mon­ey for their cur­rent guber­na­to­r­i­al cam­paign or have pre­vi­ous­ly raised at least $250,000 in a pri­or cam­paign for any state-lev­el office, or both

Sev­en­teen peo­ple have filed for gov­er­nor in 2024 with the PDC thus far, meet­ing the first of our cri­te­ria. Of those sev­en­teen, fif­teen have iden­ti­fied them­selves as Democ­rats or Repub­li­cans, meet­ing the sec­ond of our criteria.

Of those fif­teen, only five have either raised at least $50,000 already or pre­vi­ous­ly raised a quar­ter of a mil­lion dol­lars in a cam­paign for state lev­el office. The five who made the cut are Fer­gu­son, Franz, Mul­let, Gar­cia, and Bird.

As men­tioned, Fer­gu­son is the cur­rent Attor­ney Gen­er­al, Franz is Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands, and Mul­let is a state sen­a­tor from the 5th. Raul Gar­cia is a doc­tor and pre­vi­ous guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date (2020). Bird is a Rich­land school board mem­ber who calls him­self a Black con­sti­tu­tion­al Chris­t­ian conservative.

Here’s the exact text of the ques­tions we posed and the answers we received:

QUESTION (VERSION A): If the 2024 Top Two elec­tion for Gov­er­nor were being held today, would you vote for Demo­c­rat Hilary Franz, Repub­li­can Semi Bird, Demo­c­rat Bob Fer­gu­son, Repub­li­can Raul Gar­cia, or Demo­c­rat Mark Mullet?

Half the poll sam­ple saw the ques­tion with the order of can­di­dates as shown above and half the sam­ple saw the ques­tion with the order of can­di­dates shown below. The word­ing was the same, but the order was invert­ed to make the ques­tion as neu­tral as possible. 

QUESTION (VERSION B): If the 2024 Top Two elec­tion for Gov­er­nor were being held today, would you vote for Demo­c­rat Mark Mul­let, Repub­li­can Raul Gar­cia, Demo­c­rat Bob Fer­gu­son, Repub­li­can Semi Bird, or Demo­c­rat Hilary Franz?


  • Demo­c­rat Bob Fer­gu­son: 25%
  • Repub­li­can Raul Gar­cia: 17%
  • Repub­li­can Semi Bird: 10%
  • Demo­c­rat Hilary Franz: 9%
  • Demo­c­rat Mark Mul­let: 7%
  • Not sure: 33%

Our sur­vey of 773 like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, June 7th through Thurs­day, June 8th, 2023.

The poll uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (41%) and online answers from cell phone only respon­dents (59%).

It was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling (PPP) for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.5% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

NPI and PPP have worked togeth­er for a decade and have a track record of excel­lence, as detailed in this 2022 elec­toral polling recap and this 2020 one.

Topline analysis

As men­tioned, Fer­gu­son is the clear ear­ly fron­trun­ner for Governor.

Since our last statewide poll at about this time in March, which looked at a hypo­thet­i­cal field that includ­ed him, Hilary Franz, Dow Con­stan­tine, and Bruce Dammeier, his sup­port has gone up, from 21% then to 25% now.

That’s a pos­i­tive sign for his can­di­da­cy. Franz also saw a bump, albeit a very slight one: she went from 7% in March to 9% this time around.

Mul­let’s 7% is the same num­ber that Franz and Con­stan­tine were both at in March. Mul­let’s path to vic­to­ry looks awful­ly steep, espe­cial­ly with Repub­li­can Raul Gar­cia in the race. Gar­cia is the oth­er win­ner in our survey.

Despite not hav­ing got­ten far in his last cam­paign in 2020, Gar­ci­a’s can­di­da­cy seems to be res­onat­ing. Repub­li­can and inde­pen­dent vot­ers like him more than Semi Bird, who has been in the race longer and has raised more money.

If the par­ty and Repub­li­can vot­ers decide to ral­ly behind Gar­cia, our team can see him con­sol­i­dat­ing enough sup­port to secure one of those top two spots, leav­ing only one spot for a Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date, which our research sug­gests would be Fer­gu­son. For Mul­let or Franz to become gov­er­nor, they’d like­ly need to make the runoff bal­lot in a Demo­c­rat-on-Demo­c­rat con­test and be Fer­gu­son’s oppo­nent, then man­age to reel in more votes than Fer­gu­son in that final head-to-head.

It’s going to be excep­tion­al­ly dif­fi­cult for either of them to get more votes than Fer­gu­son in the elim­i­na­tion round to make that runoff. Fer­gu­son will have have plen­ty of mon­ey to work with as the fron­trun­ner, and he’s bet­ter posi­tioned out of the gate than any­one else to lock down addi­tion­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic support.

Breakdown by party

In this poll, 42% of Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers back Fer­gu­son, while 16% back Franz and 10% back Mul­let. 27% are not sure. 2% of self-iden­ti­fied Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers back Semi Bird; anoth­er 2% back Raul Garcia.

On the oth­er side of the divide: 40% of Repub­li­can vot­ers like Gar­cia; 24% are for Bird. 33% of Repub­li­can vot­ers aren’t sure who they’re vot­ing for. Fer­gu­son and Franz each got 1% from self-iden­ti­fied Repub­li­cans; Mul­let got 2%.

There’s real­ly not a dif­fer­ence there.

If you’re a Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date in this race, you’re going to find it real­ly hard to win over Repub­li­can vot­ers to your side, even if you say you’ll take a hard line on tax increas­es, which is what Mul­let is say­ing he’ll do.

Inde­pen­dents are the most unde­cid­ed group. Two-fifths of them (40%) aren’t sure. 20% back Fer­gu­son, and 17% back Gar­cia. 9% of inde­pen­dent vot­ers backed Bird, 8% backed Franz, and 6% backed Mullet.

Inde­pen­dents are an ide­o­log­i­cal­ly het­ero­ge­neous group, lack­ing con­sis­ten­cy in their val­ues and prin­ci­ples, so it isn’t sur­pris­ing to see splits like this.

It is note­wor­thy that Gar­cia has about three times the amount of sup­port among inde­pen­dent vot­ers that Mul­let does at this point.

The Repub­li­can-lean­ing inde­pen­dent vot­ers in our sam­ple had the option of pick­ing Mul­let, a Demo­c­rat who says he’s a mid­dle of the road guy who can beat Fer­gu­son, but they went with Gar­cia. Fascinating.

Breakdown by region

Here’s who each region prefers for governor:

  • King Coun­ty
    • Bob Fer­gu­son: 29%
    • Hilary Franz: 13%
    • Mark Mul­let: 11%
    • Raul Gar­cia: 9%
    • Semi Bird: 5%
    • Not sure: 33%
  • North Puget Sound
    • Bob Fer­gu­son: 33%
    • Raul Gar­cia: 16%
    • Hilary Franz: 9%
    • Semi Bird: 8%
    • Mark Mul­let: 2%
    • Not sure: 33%
  • South Sound
    • Bob Fer­gu­son: 24%
    • Raul Gar­cia: 13%
    • Semi Bird: 11%
    • Hilary Franz: 9%
    • Mark Mul­let: 7%
    • Not sure: 36%
  • Olympic Penin­su­la and South­west Washington
    • Raul Gar­cia: 18%
    • Bob Fer­gu­son: 17%
    • Semi Bird: 11%
    • Hilary Franz: 10%
    • Mark Mul­let: 9%
    • Not sure: 35%
  • East­ern and Cen­tral Washington
    • Raul Gar­cia: 31%
    • Semi Bird: 18%
    • Bob Fer­gu­son: 16%
    • Hilary Franz: 5%
    • Mark Mul­let: 2%
    • Not sure: 29%

Fer­gu­son leads in the Puget Sound / I‑5 cor­ri­dor and is tied with Gar­cia in rur­al West­ern Wash­ing­ton. Gar­cia leads in East­ern and Cen­tral Washington.

Breakdown by gender

A plu­ral­i­ty of vot­ers who iden­ti­fy as female pre­fer Fer­gu­son: 29%. Gar­cia came in sec­ond with female vot­ers, at 15%. Vot­ers iden­ti­fy­ing as male were more split. 19% said they pre­ferred Fer­gu­son. Anoth­er 19% said Garcia.

Here’s the full breakdown:

Vot­ers iden­ti­fy­ing as female

  • Bob Fer­gu­son: 28%
  • Raul Gar­cia: 15%
  • Hilary Franz: 9%
  • Semi Bird: 7%
  • Mark Mul­let: 6%
  • Not sure: 34%

Vot­ers iden­ti­fy­ing as male

  • Bob Fer­gu­son: 19%
  • Raul Gar­cia: 19%
  • Semi Bird: 13%
  • Hilary Franz: 10%
  • Mark Mul­let: 7%
  • Not sure: 33%

Franz, the only female can­di­date in the sur­vey, actu­al­ly did a tiny bit bet­ter with male vot­ers than female vot­ers. It’s a sym­bol­ic, not sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence, but empha­sizes that female vot­ers just aren’t lin­ing up behind Franz.

More gubernatorial polling coming in late 2023

We will take anoth­er look at the con­test again in the autumn. For now, it’s real­ly great to have this fresh data. Read­ers, feel free to leave a com­ment if you have a ques­tion about our research, or send us a mes­sage through our con­tact form.

If you appre­ci­ate our cred­i­ble and rig­or­ous research and want it to con­tin­ue, please con­sid­er becom­ing a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute. Mem­bers pow­er NPI’s work and enable us to pro­vide sound data to the public.

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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