Yes, it's good for Democrat Jay Inslee that this poll—like other recent polls—finds him ahead. The problem is he's only ahead by 3.1 percent among likely voters, and the margin of error on this poll is 3.9 percent. That means this race is really too close to call. If you're looking for a reason why, one place to start is this: President Obama is getting 57.1 percent of the likely voters in this state and Senator Maria Cantwell is getting 60.8 percent, while Inslee is only getting 48.7 percent of them.
That probably has a lot to do with McKenna's name-familiarity and "moderate" positioning, and you can see this reflected in the numbers for both candidates in the Puget Sound area (defined in this poll as King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Thurston Counties). In this area, McKenna is getting 41.5 percent of the vote to Inslee's 53.9 percent, with 4.6 percent undecided. Inslee needs to be doing better in this region for victory to be more certain. The same can be said of McKenna, however. “To get elected, he’s going to be needing to get a little higher than [41.5 percent]," noted Matt Barreto, who conducted the poll.
Another worrisome finding for Inslee: Independent voters are breaking for McKenna 53-33. (Upside: Independent voters aren't as like to actually vote as self-identified Democrats and Republicans are.) All in all, it's the same challenge Inslee has faced for some time. It's good to have a lead. It would be better to have a bigger lead in the Puget Sound area.
The AG's race
Despite all the money that's poured in to help Republican Reagan Dunn's flagging candidacy, he's still behind by a solid 10 points among likely voters. The problem for both him and Democrat Bob Ferguson is that despite all the money that's poured in to this race, people still aren't paying attention to it, leaving 21 percent of voters still undecided. Ferguson better hope his supporters are loud about calling people's attention to this race in the closing days.
Once again, Tim Eyman's measure to re-state voter support for the 2/3 majority requirement for raising taxes is going to pass. It's polling at 52 percent Yes, 37 percent No. The only bright side: this poll shows the No percentage creeping up slightly—but only slightly—as we get closer to Election Day.
The charter schools measure is also going to pass. It's at 56 percent Yes, 38 percent No. And, the "Yes" percentage has jumped about seven points since earlier this month, probably due to all the recent pro-charter school advertising.
“There appears to be movement in favor of this," said Barreto. “I expected that this might tighten up, but as everyone knows there’s been virtually no opposition campaign.” As a result, we're about to legalize pot in this state, with polling now at 55 percent Yes, 38 percent No. (Earlier this month it was 47 percent Yes, 40 percent No.) And guess who loves this measure? Independents! They're breaking for pot legalization 60-33. Maybe Jay Inslee, who needs more Independent support, should reconsider his opposition to I-502.
Independents also support approving same-sex marriage, 55-36. That's a big part of what's keeping the measure at an overall 52-46 among likely voters in this state. (Also helping: huge support in the Puget Sound area, where 64 percent of voters will be approving R-74.) Barreto now expects R-74 to be approved "by about seven points or so."
Over 33 percent of respondents told the KCTS 9 Washington Poll that they'd already mailed in their ballots. And, reflecting the big push Democrats have made on early voting, Democratic candidates are doing very well among this early-voting cohort. No big surprise here.
People continue to hate Congress—67.5 percent have an unfavorable opinion of it, according to this poll—which may be another reason by former Congressman Inslee is polling so close to McKenna.
Are you listening, Olympia? A majority now wants state leaders to fix our $1.4 billion budget deficit with either a combination of spending cuts and tax increases or just tax increases. (Still, only 25 percent "strongly agree" with the idea that we should tackle the deficit with an income tax on the wealthiest Washingtonians.)
Another challenge for Inslee here. McKenna voters are marginally more likely to be "very enthusiastic" about their candidate (63 percent for McKenna to 61 percent for Inslee). However! If you lump "very enthusiastic" and "somewhat enthusiastic" voters into a single category, then the overall enthusiasm is with Inslee (with 84.2 percent of his supporters either very or somewhat enthusiastic about him, while only 80.5 percent of McKenna's supporters are either very or somewhat enthusiastic about him). In other words, Insee is a man getting great mileage from a middling amount of excitement.