Visualization of NPI's February 2024 U.S. Senate poll finding
Visualization of NPI's February 2024 U.S. Senate poll finding (NPI graphic)

Democ­rats in the Unit­ed States Sen­ate face a tough map to keep con­trol of Con­gress’ upper cham­ber this autumn, with twen­ty-three seats to defend, but one state they prob­a­bly don’t have to wor­ry about hold­ing is Wash­ing­ton, where Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell’s path to reelec­tion appears to be get­ting even easier.

53% of 789 like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State gen­er­al elec­tion vot­ers sur­veyed last week for NPI said they would sup­port Cantwell if the elec­tion for U.S. Sen­ate were being held now. 37% said they would sup­port Gar­cia, Cantwell’s expect­ed Repub­li­can gen­er­al elec­tion oppo­nent. Anoth­er 10% were not sure.

That six­teen point advan­tage is the biggest spread we’ve found for Sen­a­tor Cantwell so far this cycle, and it’s sev­en points wider than the spread between Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray and Repub­li­can chal­lenger Tiffany Smi­ley that we found two years ago… a poll that the NRSC liked so much, they put out a press release tout­ing it. (I rather doubt they’ll be pro­mot­ing this finding.)

Cantwell’s only tight race thus far as a Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor was her first, when she top­pled Slade Gor­ton in 2000 in a close con­test. She was reelect­ed eas­i­ly in 2006, 2012, and 2018, all wave years for Democ­rats in Wash­ing­ton State.

In the Sen­ate, Cantwell has focused on envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, reg­u­lat­ing deriv­a­tives and oth­er com­plex finan­cial instru­ments, and strength­en­ing the coun­try’s infra­struc­ture. She is a key archi­tect of the CHIPS and Sci­ence Act, and cur­rent­ly chairs the pow­er­ful Com­merce Com­mit­tee. Her office often orga­nizes events to bring togeth­er sci­en­tists, tech­nol­o­gists, and busi­ness lead­ers to dis­cuss issues like space explo­ration or arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI).

Sen­a­tor Cantwell is known for being one of the few in the Sen­ate who real­ly under­stands tech­nol­o­gy issues, along with Ore­gon’s Ron Wyden; the duo stood strong against harm­ful bills like SOPA and PIPA ear­ly on. Fit­ting­ly, she is one of the first elect­ed offi­cials ever to have guest post­ed on NPI’s Cas­ca­dia Advocate.

Repub­li­can Raul Gar­cia, who was run­ning for gov­er­nor until he yield­ed to Dave Reichert, is like­ly to be Cantwell’s gen­er­al elec­tion opponent.

Gar­cia has the back­ing of a lot of promi­nent Repub­li­cans: leg­endary for­mer Gov­er­nor Dan Evans, Dino Rossi, Rob McKen­na, Sam Reed, Ralph Munro, and of course Reichert. Dozens of Repub­li­can state leg­is­la­tors and local elect­ed offi­cials have also endorsed him. But although Gar­cia has man­aged to get the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty appa­ra­tus to coa­lesce around his cam­paign, he’s not gen­er­at­ing the sort of buzz or media inter­est that Tiffany Smi­ley did last cycle.

Nor is Gar­cia rais­ing much mon­ey. He has so far raised a mere $244,241.96, which is utter­ly dwarfed by Cantwell’s $9+ mil­lion in receipts. Repub­li­cans are not excit­ed­ly tout­ing him as the can­di­date who will end Sen­a­tor Cantwell’s run in the Sen­ate. Part­ly that’s because the par­ty seems to have oth­er pri­or­i­ties, like elect­ing Reichert or pass­ing Bri­an Hey­wood and Jim Wal­sh’s slate of initiatives.

That’s a dynam­ic Democ­rats are hap­py to accept.

Here’s the ques­tion we asked and the respons­es 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: 53% (+2% since November)
  • Raul Gar­cia: 37% (-1% since November)
  • Not sure: 10% (-1% since November)

Our sur­vey of 789 like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 13th through Wednes­day, Feb­ru­ary 14th, 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 +/- 3.5% 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.

Insights from the crosstabs

Vot­ers who iden­ti­fy as female are par­tic­u­lar­ly enthu­si­as­tic about Cantwell’s reelec­tion — 65% of them pre­fer her, while only 26% pre­fer Garcia.

Among vot­ers of col­or, Cantwell also has an advan­tage. 63% of them pre­fer Cantwell, while only 22% would vote for Garcia.

Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers are almost uni­form­ly behind Cantwell. 92% of self-iden­ti­fied Democ­rats want Cantwell, while 88% of self-iden­ti­fied Repub­li­cans back Gar­cia. Inde­pen­dents, mean­while, are split between Cantwell and Garcia.

With respect to age, the youngest and old­est vot­ers in the elec­torate are Cantwell’s strongest groups, just as they are for Pres­i­dent Joe Biden.

The trend so far this cycle, visualized

Below you can see all of our pre­vi­ous find­ings for this con­test plotted.

More U.S. Senate polling to come

We plan to poll this race again in the spring­time, after Fil­ing Week, and we’ll see where the con­test stands at that time.

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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