Visualization of NPI's November 2023 U.S. Senate poll finding
Visualization of NPI's November 2023 U.S. Senate poll finding (NPI graphic)

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.

Fol­low this link for addi­tion­al method­ol­o­gy details, includ­ing demo­graph­ic data.

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.

Corroborating data

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.

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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