SurveyUSA for KING5 (4/27-28, registered voters, no trendlines):
Jay Inslee (D): 41
Rob McKenna (R): 48
Jay Inslee (D): 44
Dave Reichert (R): 46
Chris Gregoire (D-inc): 40
Rob McKenna (R): 52
Chris Gregoire (D-inc): 44
Dave Reichert (R): 48
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.