Seattle City Council hopeful Joy Hollingsworth is the clear favorite in the closely-watched contest to determine a successor to outgoing Councilmember Kshama Sawant, a new Northwest Progressive Institute poll has found.
In the aggregate, 52% of 327 likely Seattle City Council District #3 voters interviewed by Change Research this week for NPI said they had voted or would be voting for Hollingsworth, while 28% said they had voted or would be voting for Alex Hudson, the other finalist for Council. 16% were not sure, 3% did not recall how they had voted, and 1% said they would not vote in the contest.
Hollingsworth and Hudson emerged from a large field of candidates back in the summer with nearly identical shares of the vote. Hollingsworth had an Election Night advantage, but Hudson caught up as the late ballots were counted.
In the end, they finished within a few dozen votes of each other: Hollingsworth had 9,690 votes (36.87%) at certification, while Hudson had 9,601 votes (36.53%). Six other candidates failed to advance: Alex Cooley, Bobby Goodwin, Ry Armstrong, Shobhit Agarwal, Andrew Ashiofu, and Efrain Hudnell.
Our survey indicates that Hollingsworth has opened up a substantial lead over Hudson since then. Hollingsworth is the choice of every group of voters in our survey except for eighteen to thirty-four year olds, who favor Hudson. Hollingsworth leads among those who have already voted (48% of the sample) as well as those who have yet to vote (51% of the sample).
Hollingsworth is a native of the Central District, one of the neighborhoods in the 3rd. She is a skilled basketball player, having played in high school, college (at the University of Arizona) and then professionally. After Washington voters decriminalized cannabis in 2012, Hollingsworth and her brother launched Hollingsworth Farms, “a family-owned and operated cannabis company located on the Olympic Peninsula.” It’s one of the few independent, Black-owned cannabis operations in the State of Washington, Hollingsworth’s campaign says.
Hollingsworth is endorsed by Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, The Seattle Times, The Seattle Medium, and the Northwest Asian Weekly. (See more of her endorsements at her website).
Alex Hudson is from Redmond (NPI’s hometown!) and was raised on a small family farm in unincorporated east King County. She is a graduate of Western Washington University in Bellingham, where she founded a student club affiliated with the ACLU of Washington. She went on to lead the First Hill Improvement Association, where she worked to increase access to housing. Later, she became the executive director of Transportation Choices Coalition (TCC), which works to improve freedom of mobility, especially for those who can’t or don’t want to drive.
Hudson is endorsed by King County Councilmembers Claudia Balducci, Joe McDermott, and Rod Dembowski, as well as The Stranger, The Urbanist, and Publicola. (See more of her endorsements at her website).
Here’s the exact questions we asked and the responses we received:
QUESTION: In the election for Seattle City Council District #3, who did you vote for?
Respondents who told us that they had already voted were shown this question.
- Joy Hollingsworth: 59%
- Alex Hudson: 34%
- Do not recall: 7%
- Did not vote on this: 0%
Haven’t yet voted
QUESTION: The candidates for Seattle City Council District #3 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.
- Joy Hollingsworth: 38%
- Alex Hudson: 20%
- Not sure: 42%
FOLLOW-UP QUESTION ASKED OF UNDECIDED VOTERS ONLY: If you had to choose, who would you vote for? Links to the candidates’ websites are here if you’d like to learn more about them:
If you had to choose, who would you vote for?
- Joy Hollingsworth: 25%
- Alex Hudson: 5%
- Not sure: 66%
- Would not vote: 4%
COMBINED ANSWERS (AGGREGATE), ALL QUESTIONS:
- Joy Hollingsworth: 52%
- Alex Hudson: 28%
- Not sure: 16%
- Do not recall: 3%
- Would not vote: 1%
- Did not vote on this: 0%
Joy Hollingsworth’s name was always shown to respondents first and Alex Hudson’s name was always shown second, as 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 327 likely 2023 Seattle City Council District #3 general election voters was in the field from Tuesday, October 31st, until today, Friday, November 3rd. The poll was conducted entirely online for the Northwest Progressive Institute by Change Research and has a modeled margin of error of 5.7%.
We asked follow-up questions of respondents who had already voted for both Hollingsworth and Hudson to tell us about their choice in their own words.
Hollingsworth supporters cited Harrell’s endorsement as an important consideration, along with her biography and public safety stances.
Why vote for Joy Hollingsworth?
“Her experience, she values public safety, she seems to be able to work well with stakeholders, she is supported by the mayor, I agree with her stand on issues affecting the city, she is smart and articulate, she grew up in D3 [Seattle City Council District #3],” said a strong Democratic female voter from Capitol Hill / First Hill between the ages of fifty and sixty-four.
“She has experience and great history of connections in District 3 area. And she is strongly focused on public safety, which I think should be Seattle’s highest priority,” said an independent female voter between the ages of thirty-five and forty-nine who lives in the southeastern part of the district.
“She is the better candidate. She grew up in Seattle and appears genuinely invested in the community. Not everyone with the political science degree knows what is best. I am certainly a STEM professional, but horticulture and experiential learning is extremely valuable as well,” said a strong Democratic male voter between the ages of eighteen to thirty-four from Capitol Hill / First Hill.
And here’s a few very short comments we received about Joy:
- Expensive experience across a lot of different relevant areas.
- Focus on crime and stop coddling the homeless.
- Listening to community, important representation for the district and council.
- Long Central Area presence, more moderate stances.
Hudson supporters cited their personal conversations with her and said she was well prepared to govern, with well thought out positions on issues like transit.
Why vote for Alex Hudson?
“I’ve met her and got a chance to talk about her views and experience and what she would do on the Council. I liked her ideas and aligned with her progressive but pragmatic views,” said a strong Democratic female voter from the southeastern part of the district between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four.
“She has a much better platform on housing and transit than her opponent, and while my views on policing don’t entirely align with Hudson’s I felt even less aligned with Hollingsworth’s focus on unrealistic hiring goals for SPD and her general exaggeration of the state of crime in Seattle,” said a strong Democratic male voter from Capitol Hill / First Hill between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four.
“That was the toughest choice on the entire ballot: Alex got my vote based on her work history with housing and transportation planning,” said a strong Democratic male voter from Capitol Hill / First Hill between the ages of fifty and sixty-four. (Emphasis is the respondent’s.)
And here’s a few very short comments we received about Alex:
- Policy experience, strong overall credentials. Good ideas for city planning and growth.
- Public transit focus and a reality based approach to policing.
- Knowledgeable of the job. Does not support present police behavior.
- Urbanist with vision for future of Seattle.
Hollingsworth’s strength in the survey stems from her appeal to many groups of voters. She has majority support among strong Democrats, independents, and Republicans, for example, which is impressive. We just don’t see that very often.
She also has the support of 62% of respondents in Madrona, Leschi, and the Central District and the support of 58% of respondents in Montlake, Madison Park, Madison Valley, Portage Bay, and Eastlake. On Capitol Hill and First Hill, it’s a closer contest, but Hollingsworth leads there, too, with 44% to Hudson’s 33%.
Polls can’t predict electoral outcomes, they can only suggest what might happen, but these survey results are a certainly compelling piece of evidence that Hollingsworth’s campaign is resonating with voters and is on track to prevail.
You might have noticed earlier that 48% of our sample has already voted, while 51% have yet to vote. Historically, in our polling, the already voted subsample has been a good indicator of how the results will turn out, because people who have already voted have come to a decision they can tell us about.
It’s not uncommon in nonpartisan local races for a lot of people to be unsure who they are going to support right up until they sit down to vote. We’ve published, on many occasions, poll findings in which the largest group of voters were undecided. We’re very comfortable having a sample in which a substantial number of voters report that they have already voted (which, it should be noted, is not the same thing as having returned a ballot — that’s a subsequent step!)
And remember, we saw a lead for Hollingsworth among those who haven’t voted, too. Hollingsworth also picked up far more support than Alex Hudson did when we nudged not sure voters in the not-yet-voted group to make a decision.
Our colleague Ben Sullivan of Change Research, who oversaw the fielding of this survey for the Northwest Progressive Institute, noted: “We aren’t seeing a fundamental difference in the views of people who have already voted and those who have not yet voted, so even if those who have already voted are overrepresented here, it shouldn’t skew the outcomes much.”
Two years ago, NPI commissioned Change Research to handle the fielding for our inaugural polls of the Seattle electorate. In seven out of seven citywide contests, the candidate who led in our October 2021 survey of the electorate went on to win. More analysis is available in this Cascadia Advocate post.
Later today, we’ll bring you more findings from our preelection poll of Seattle City Council District #3, including voters’ views on the housing levy!