Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell holds a double digit lead over Republican challenger Raul Garcia in Washington State’s 2024 U.S. Senate race and appears to be on a smooth trajectory to winning reelection next November, the Northwest Progressive Institute’s latest statewide survey has found.
51% of 700 likely Washington State general election voters said they would support Cantwell if the election for U.S. Senate were being held now. 38% said they would support Garcia, the same percentage who said they’d support Donald Trump in a rematch with Joe Biden. 11% were not sure.
Cantwell was first elected to the Senate in 2000 and has been Washington State’s junior senator ever since, serving alongside Patty Murray, who is now the most senior member of the entire Senate Democratic caucus. Cantwell narrowly defeated Republican Slade Gorton and joined a chamber evenly divided between the two major parties. She has won reelection with ease three times since then — in 2006, 2012, and 2018, all of which were Democratic wave years.
Prior to defeating Gorton, Cantwell was a vice president at RealNetworks. She joined the company after losing her U.S. House seat in the “Republican Revolution” of 1994. A fun bit of electoral history: Future Governor Jay Inslee won Cantwell’s old seat back for the Democrats in 1998 and held it for over a decade. Voters chose Suzan DelBene to replace Inslee in 2012 and have continued to reelect her; DelBene now chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of the House Democratic caucus.
Raul Garcia is a doctor with extensive experience in emergency medicine. He was born in Cuba and emigrated to Spain at the age of eleven with his family to escape the Communist regime of Fidel Castro. They moved to Florida after successfully applying for asylum from the United States. Garcia is a graduate of both the University of Miami and the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. He ran for governor in 2020 against Jay Inslee, but was eliminated in the Top Two election, which Inslee and former Republic police chief Loren Culp won.
Garcia was a gubernatorial candidate for several weeks earlier this year, but dropped out in favor of Dave Reichert when Reichert decided to run. Garcia promptly endorsed Reichert and jumped into the U.S. Senate race as Cantwell’s opponent, solving a problem for the Washington State Republican Party, which had not at that point found a credible challenger to oppose Cantwell.
Garcia is endorsed by Reichert, former Governor Dan Evans (who is still a Republican despite what has happened to his party), former Attorney General Rob McKenna, former State Senator Dino Rossi, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, former Secretaries of State Ralph Munro and Sam Reed, and an impressively long list of Republican state legislators.
According to the latest data available from the FEC, Garcia has raised $204,437.42 since he began campaigning in July. Cantwell, meanwhile, has reported total receipts of $7,177,955.29 and contributions of $6,521,143.09. Senator Cantwell’s reelection campaign is among the many financial sponsors of NPI’s research, but was not involved in the design or the fielding of this survey.
Here is the full text of both questions we asked and the answers we received:
QUESTION: If the election for United States Senate were being held today and the candidates were Democrat Maria Cantwell and Republican Raul Garcia, who would you vote for?
- Maria Cantwell: 51%
- Raul Garcia: 38%
- Not sure: 11%
Our survey of 700 likely 2024 Washington State voters was in the field from Tuesday, November 14th through Wednesday, November 15th, 2023.
The poll utilizes a blended methodology, with automated phone calls to landlines (42%) and online answers from respondents recruited by text (58%).
It was conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) for the Northwest Progressive Institute, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.7% at the 95% confidence interval.
This is the second time this week that a publicly-released poll finding has found Senator Cantwell comfortably ahead in the 2024 U.S. Senate race.
The first was on Wednesday, when Crosscut published Elway Research’s latest statewide poll. That survey found Cantwell ahead of Garcia by twenty points, with a significant number of respondents undecided. Here’s the breakdown:
QUESTION: Cantwell currently has one declared opponent. As things stand today, are you inclined to vote for…
- Democrat Maria Cantwell: 43%
- Republican Raul Garcia: 23%
- A different Democrat: 3%
- A different Republican: 6%
- Undecided: 25%
Elway’s survey consists of 403 registered voters. 82 were interviewed on landlines, 179 were interviewed on mobiles, and 133 were recruited by text to take the survey online. The margin of error of the survey is +/- 5%. The survey fielded from October 30th — November 3rd. Data is available here.
Unlike in our poll, which was a very simple head-to-head, Elway respondents were given the additional answer choices of “a different Democrat” or “a different Republican.” That’s not a design choice we would make in our questionnaires, but as the saying goes, to each their own. Elway Research has a mostly solid track record and we’re always happy to have their data available to scrutinize.
We can see from the answers above that twice as many respondents picked “a different Republican” than “a different Democrat,” so the inclusion of those additional options seems to have impacted Garcia more than Cantwell.
In our survey, Garcia benefits from being the only option for Republican voters, and Cantwell likewise benefits from being the only option for Democratic voters.
Senator Cantwell is above fifty, which to us is the key indicator — an incumbent at or above fifty in an early poll is considered to be in good shape for reelection.
And Garcia is right about where we’d anticipate a Republican opponent of Cantwell to be. The percentage Garcia has in our survey (which mirrors Trump’s as mentioned earlier) is probably much closer to the percentage Garcia could conceivably be expected to get in next year’s general election. It’s important to remember that neither polls or pundits can predict elections, but we can discuss possible outcomes using available electoral and public opinion research data.
Last cycle (2021–2022) versus this cycle (2023–2024)
In the 2021–2022 cycle, our polling consistently found Democratic Senator Patty Murray at or above fifty percent, with Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley usually behind by a double-digit margin. Our final preelection survey put Murray at 52% and Smiley at 42%, with 6% undecided. Murray subsequently picked up most of the not sure voters and received 57.15% of the vote. Smiley got 42.63%.
Here in the 2023–2024 cycle, we’ve now found Senator Cantwell above fifty percent three times: in March of this year, in June of this year, and now this month. Our March and June surveys pitted Cantwell against a hypothetical candidate, former United States Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler.
Herrera Beutler took a pass on running for Senate, but she is running statewide in 2024, just for a different office: Commissioner of Public Lands.
Now that Cantwell has a declared opponent in Raul Garcia, we can finally start doing head-to-head polling between the candidates Washingtonians are likely to see on the general election ballot next year for this office. As in 2022, we plan to continue taking the pulse of the Washington electorate. We’ll continue to bring you findings in this marquee U.S. senate contest at key intervals in 2024.