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.

Tuesday, June 13th, 2023

Maria Cantwell retains fifteen point lead over hypothetical opponent Jaime Herrera Beutler

Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell remains well posi­tioned for reelec­tion to the U.S. Sen­ate next year in the Ever­green State, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s June 2023 sur­vey of like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton gen­er­al elec­tion vot­ers has confirmed.

Cantwell con­tin­ues to enjoy a fif­teen point lead over hypo­thet­i­cal Repub­li­can oppo­nent Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, a mar­gin unchanged from our last sur­vey back in March. Inter­est­ing­ly, there were few­er unde­cid­ed vot­ers this time around: 52% of respon­dents said they’d vote for Cantwell, 37% said Her­rera Beut­ler, who has made no moves towards run­ning, and 11% were not sure, down from 14%.

Visualization of NPI's June 2023 U.S. Senate poll finding

Visu­al­iza­tion of NPI’s June 2023 U.S. Sen­ate poll find­ing (NPI graphic)

Cantwell was first elect­ed to the Sen­ate in 2000, defeat­ing the late Repub­li­can Slade Gor­ton in one of the clos­est U.S. Sen­ate races in Amer­i­can his­to­ry. Cantwell, a for­mer Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive who was oust­ed in the 1994 midterms, edged out Gor­ton by just 2,229 votes, out of 2.4 mil­lion cast. The con­test went to a recount; Cantwell was able to pre­vail thanks to strong sup­port in King County.

Since that inau­gur­al Sen­ate cam­paign, it has been smooth sail­ing for Cantwell. She has yet to face a dif­fi­cult reelec­tion envi­ron­ment. Her cam­paign for a sec­ond term took place in 2006, her cam­paign for a third term took place in 2012, and her cam­paign for a fourth term took place in 2018 — all “blue wave” cycles.

With Repub­li­cans hav­ing spent over twen­ty mil­lion dol­lars just last year try­ing and fail­ing to oust Pat­ty Mur­ray (who is now the Sen­ate’s Pres­i­dent Pro Tem­pore!), and with bet­ter oppor­tu­ni­ties for pick­ups else­where, like in Neva­da or Ari­zona, there seems to be no appetite to seri­ous­ly chal­lenge Cantwell.

They might still be recov­er­ing from the exhaus­tion of last year’s elec­toral cat­a­stro­phe, but the WSRP and NRSC will find some­one to run against Cantwell even­tu­al­ly. Since they’ve yet to do so, we’ve con­tin­ued to look at Her­rera Beut­ler in our polling as a hypo­thet­i­cal oppo­nent for Cantwell.

Her­rera Beut­ler was, until Jan­u­ary, the Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Ever­green State’s 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict, which encom­pass­es South­west Wash­ing­ton. Her reelec­tion bid ran head­long into ultra MAGA oppo­si­tion after she coura­geous­ly vot­ed to impeach Don­ald Trump, and she was elim­i­nat­ed in the August 2022 Top Two elec­tion, with Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Marie Glue­senkamp Perez and Repub­li­can chal­lenger Joe Kent each get­ting more votes.

Glue­senkamp Perez went on to defeat Kent in the runoff, in a vic­to­ry that stunned nation­al pun­dits, but not our team at NPI, because our polling had shown that it was a plau­si­ble out­come only a few weeks before­hand.

Her­rera Beut­ler would prob­a­bly be able to raise mon­ey for a Sen­ate cam­paign pret­ty eas­i­ly — state and nation­al Repub­li­cans would hap­pi­ly back her if she want­ed to run. But our guess is she won’t jump in. Her chances of win­ning just aren’t very good, as we can now see from mul­ti­ple polls sea­sons apart.

Here’s the text of 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?

ANSWERS:

  • Maria Cantwell (D): 52%
  • Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler (R): 37%
  • Not sure: 11%

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.

You might think that owing to her impeach­ment vote and ouster last year, Her­rera Beut­ler would have lack­lus­ter sup­port among Repub­li­can vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton. How­ev­er, the base seems inclined to sup­port her against Cantwell — 83% of Repub­li­can vot­ers say they’d pick her, com­pared to 85% who’d vote for Trump against Biden. Plen­ty of inde­pen­dent vot­ers are inter­est­ed in Her­rera Beut­ler. She actu­al­ly got a plu­ral­i­ty of inde­pen­dents in this sur­vey: 43%. 39% picked Cantwell.

But Wash­ing­ton is a Demo­c­ra­t­ic state, and Cantwell has the Demo­c­ra­t­ic elec­torate almost total­ly unit­ed behind her. 91% of Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers are sup­port­ing Cantwell for reelec­tion. She did slight­ly bet­ter with Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers in this sur­vey than Pres­i­dent Joe Biden did, which shows how much vot­ers here like her.

Impres­sive­ly, Cantwell also came in four points ahead of Her­rera Beut­ler in South­west Wash­ing­ton and the Olympic Penin­su­la, a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of which is JHB’s home turf. Cantwell has a lead in every West­ern Wash­ing­ton region, which is why statewide, she’s main­tain­ing that fif­teen point edge. Her­rera Beut­ler does rea­son­ably well in Cen­tral and East­ern Wash­ing­ton though, with 55% sup­port there, com­pared to 60–61% sup­port in that region for Trump and DeSantis.

We’ll look at this con­test again in the autumn. Per­haps by then, Repub­li­cans will have recruit­ed a desired stan­dard bear­er for our 2024 U.S. Sen­ate race.

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