WA-Gov: McKenna (R) Leads Inslee in SurveyUSA Poll

SurveyUSA for KING5 (4/27-28, registered voters, no trendlines):

Jay Inslee (D): 41

Rob McKenna (R): 48

Undecided: 11

Jay Inslee (D): 44

Dave Reichert (R): 46

Undecided: 10

Chris Gregoire (D-inc): 40

Rob McKenna (R): 52

Undecided: 7

Chris Gregoire (D-inc): 44

Dave Reichert (R): 48

Undecided: 8

(MoE: ±4%)

No doubt most media outlets are going to run this poll with a “OMG! Rob McKenna beats Chris Gregoire!” headline. Pardon my French, but Give. Me. A. Fucking. Break. While Gregoire is legally entitled to run for a third term, that just isn’t done in Washington (no one has attempted it since Dan Evans back in the 1970s), and she isn’t fundraising, but keeping a vague air of mystery about her plans to ward off lame duck-itis in her dealings with the legislature. Even if she wanted to, her approvals would sensibly preclude her from running (37/61 in this poll), as she’s shed considerable support on her left with recent actions (an annual budget heavy on education cuts, and just last week a partial veto of a medical marijuana dispensary bill). Add all that up, and anyone in Washington with two brain cells to rub together knows she isn’t running.

Well, with that said, the other numbers from this poll confirm my suspicions that this is going to be a difficult hold for the Democrats, as both AG Rob McKenna (who’s been running for this job for about eight years) and Rep. Dave Reichert (who just poked his head up about this job in the last week) have leads over likely Dem nominee Rep. Jay Inslee. I suspect the McKenna/Inslee disparity may be largely because of name rec (although SUSA doesn’t provide approvals on anybody other than Gregoire, so I can’t compare). Inslee also has an avenue of attack that he’s only just started using, concerning the one flagrantly partisan thing that the otherwise blandly non-controversial McKenna has done as AG, which is to sign onto the multi-state lawsuit against health care reform. Even taking those factors into account, though, McKenna is the GOP’s best shot in decades at recapturing the governor’s mansion, given that he’s one of the last of a dying breed: a quasi-moderate from the suburbs of King County. (And, no, although Reichert also meets those criteria too, I just don’t see him running for this; the party establishment wouldn’t stand for it.)

In case you’re wondering about methodology, the usually autodialer-only SurveyUSA did include a cellphone user sample as part of the poll. You may recall that they did this several times in their polling of WA-Sen last year to account for problems with reaching landline-free younger voters, a problem which has seemed particularly pronounced in tech-savvy Washington. It didn’t seem to help much in 2010, though, as SurveyUSA, like the other robo-callers, still saw the Murray/Rossi race as a tied game, while local traditional-method pollsters at UW correctly spotted the 5-point margin.

25 thoughts on “WA-Gov: McKenna (R) Leads Inslee in SurveyUSA Poll”

  1. Jon Corzine, an unpopular incumbent running in an awful environment in an off-year, nearly came back from numbers like this. NJ and WA are comparable states in a number of ways.Inslee has none of those problems to deal with and will also increase his numbers once he introduces himself to people in the 8/9 of the state he didn’t represent in Congress.

    Besides, as the 2009 King County Commissioner races show, Republicans tend to lose their luster once their partisan tendencies come to light. That race was officially nonpartisan, sure, but just because McKenna is openly a Republican doesn’t mean he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt from normally D-leaning voters who think of him as a moderate.

  2. And the fact that SUSA has consistently, it seems to me, been very bullish on Republicans in Washington in their polling.  

  3. You can’t really trust Republican Governor candidates – they hide their true agenda until they are elected.  

  4. I feel much more optimistic about this race, as someone who also lives in WA.

    The fact that Inslee, who doesn’t have statewide name recognition yet, is in striking distance of McKenna, who is under 50%, is great.

    Especially since, as you point out, McKenna has moved to the right as of late.

    Plus, McKenna has been campaigning for years. Inslee has not made his intentions known yet.

    Combine this with Obama’s popularity in the state as well as WA being an all-vote by-mail state, and I think that the election is far from certain. Plus, there are no 3rd parties anymore, so Greens will not take away any votes from Inslee. Plus there may be a pro legalization of marijuana initiative on the ballot, which would bring out progressives more than conservatives.

    This is still very much a strong Democratic state.

    If Inslee campaigns hard then he wins.

  5. It is light on Metro Seattle voters and heavy on Eastern Washington.

    SUSA is the only pollster that consistently finds a Republican bias amoung younger voters In Washington but younger voters have been among the strongest Democratic supporters in every Washington election since the mid 1980s. The lower tunrout among young and minority voters is what made the Murray Rossi contest last November as close as it was.

    It isn’t only young peole who are land-line free in Washington. I live in a senior mobile community where fewer than 1 in 4 of my neighbors has a landline anymore. All of my neighbors are over 55. Nearly half are snowbirds who maintain mobile homes in Washington and California or Washington and Arizona. Instead of maintaining two landlines, they have one cell used at both residences.

  6. I wouldn’t even include their polls in summaries.  They presented data in 2010 over and over and over that was wildly different than all pollsters, and then all exit polls.  They were dead wrong.

    The main problem with them now is they were so wrong that you can’t even really adjust their numbers in some standard way.  

  7. But damn, Inslee’s numbers are pretty weak. Gregoire is about where you’d expect her to be.

  8. to show more support for Republicans earlier on and then for the final poll, which is all that really matters for their report card, they get their act together. For instance, while their final 2010 poll showed Rossi and Murray tied, a poll from August 20 showed Rossi leading 52-45.

    Again, another reason I’m really not that worried.

  9. The fact that he represents a single district out of 9 (although he represented Doc Hastings’ district for a single term from ’93-’95) and runs more strongly than Gregoire bodes well for how well he will do when he runs statewide.

  10. He ran as a fauxderate and got away with it because of Deeds’ crappy campaign. He gets elected and, surprise surprise, governs like a right-wing partisan Republican. Sheila Johnson said she was disappointed in him. I just want to yell at all of these people and be like, hello? If you had just done your damn research you would have known about his evil platform of Happy Meals and 100% Angus beef beforehand. You reap what you sow.

  11. would be very constrained. He will no doubt have to deal with relatively large Dem majorities in the legislatures.

  12. Where do think most of your neighbors vote? Do you think they are all registered in WA State?

  13. I don’t think I can agree with the statement:

    Plus there may be a pro legalization of marijuana initiative on the ballot, which would bring out progressives more than conservatives.

    Its unlikely to motivate conservatives on their own, but you never know.  Marijuana initiatives are not the best way to motivate any cross-section of voters, progressives or not.  its not the Dem version of the GOP’s gay marriage initiatives, I wish it were.

    The few on the ballot in 2010 didn’t do too well, and the one that passed (Medical Marijuana in Arizona) happened while Jan Brewer won teh governor race by 10 points….

  14. is registered in CA. All the rest are Washington voters even though they usually spend Dec, Jan, Feb and March in sunnier climes. Most retired from JBLM.

  15. He has never held a statewide office and yet he polls better than the governor herself.

  16. statewide and McKenna has won two statewide races. McKenna is also in the news often. Has anybody else noted how much more frequently he has been doing the consumer education spots on TV in Seattle and Spokane. Sure, outreach and consumer protection is a part of the AG’s job but he can’t seem to get enough of the camera these days.

  17. He did once represent Yakima for a term in 93-95 he got unseated by Doc Hastings.

    Inslee ran for governor in 1996 but did not get past the primary. Inslee is a decent congressman and has decent appeal to liberals despite being a DLC type.

  18. That’s the most Republican seat in WA.  Was it less red back then, before 2000 Redistricting?

    And yes, although he represented a different district, it was brief and quite a long time ago in the public eye.

  19. Here’s the county breakdown from 1992:


    Richard (Doc) Hastings R 77

    Jay Inslee D 23


    Richard (Doc) Hastings R 29196

    Jay Inslee D 22837


    Jay Inslee D 11297

    Richard (Doc) Hastings R 10521


    Jay Inslee D 6024

    Richard (Doc) Hastings R 4752


    Richard (Doc) Hastings R 7176

    Jay Inslee D 4815


    Jay Inslee D 10711

    Richard (Doc) Hastings R 10544


    Jay Inslee D 7306

    Richard (Doc) Hastings R 4665


    Jay Inslee D 1879

    Richard (Doc) Hastings R 1551


    Jay Inslee D 6896

    Richard (Doc) Hastings R 5495


    Jay Inslee D 34768

    Richard (Doc) Hastings R 29051

    Pretty similar to the current composition.

    Inslee barely won (51-49), and the seat had been Republican before, so there must have been some local factor at work.

  20. And yes, I do. I, however, see Democratic armageddon once the economy, gun control, abortion, and drug legalization come to the forefront of the issues of the day. WA goes GOP all the way.

  21. would you care to back up your position? the economy is already at the forefront, and when have gun control/abortion/drugs ever delivered WA to the GOP?

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