Jay Inslee (D): 40 (42)
Rob McKenna (R): 43 (42)
Undecided: 17 (16)
Public Policy Polling continues to see the Washington gubernatorial race as a tossup, with the numbers moving very little from poll to poll. June’s look at the race finds a small lead for Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna, a bit of a decline in Democrat ex-Rep. Jay Inslee’s fortunes since PPP’s previous poll in February, which showed the race as a tie. The basic principle of the race remains the same, though: McKenna, who’s been elected statewide, is better-known than Inslee (40/30 favorables, vs. 33/29 for Inslee). The name rec advantage helps him overcome the state’s Democratic lean, and it’ll get closer as Democratic-leaning indies start to tune in to the race, probably keeping razor-thin margins until Election Day.
The more interesting numbers that PPP released Tuesday may, in fact, be the numbers on the two big ballot initiatives that Washingtonians will face in November, both on culture war issues. Referendum 74 is a people’s-veto referendum that just qualified for the ballot earlier this month, in which conservatives are attempting to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage law that was enacted by the legislature earlier in the year. PPP didn’t specifically ask about the wording of the referendum, but their more generically phrased question about gay marriage suggests it’s quite likely to fail (meaning that same-sex marriage would stay in place); by a 51-42 margin, voters think same-sex marriage should be legal. That’s a bit of an improvement since just February, when voters broke 50-46 on that question.
There’s also improvement for same-sex marriage on the more nuanced question of whether people support marriage, civil unions, or no recognition, which now breaks 47-30-21 (improved from 46-32-20 last time). Based on PPP’s polling of Maine, Maryland and Minnesota as well, it looks like same-sex marriage may actually go 4-for-4 in votes in November. (Obviously, it helps that the four votes are happening in blue states.)
The other ballot measure is Initiative 502, which would essentially legalize marijuana, regulate it, and tax it. Washingtonians seem to like pot even better than gay marriage, as the initiative is passing 50-37. That’s thanks to a substantial crossover from Republicans, many of whom are libertarian-flavored in the northwest: While Republicans oppose same-sex marriage 82-10 in this sample, they’re only 68-22 against legal marijuana.
Jay Inslee (D): 40 (36)
Rob McKenna (R): 42 (45)
There was also a poll released Monday by prominent local pollster Elway, and this one is a bit more attention-grabbing than PPP’s, in that it showed a lot of movement in Inslee’s direction. Elway’s February poll of the race found Inslee down 9, but now has him back by 2. While PPP has always shown the race close and stable, the other major pollsters who’ve been regularly polling this race now have all shown the same thing since spring: Inslee narrowing the gap considerably, though the loss of McKenna’s vote share to “undecided” seems to be playing as big a role in the shift as Inslee’s gains.
Similarly, SurveyUSA saw the race move from 49-39 McKenna to 40-38 McKenna between February and May, and Strategies360 saw the race move from 46-39 McKenna last fall to 43-39 in May. It’s still not clear to me what caused Inslee’s swoon this spring (which may have been rectified by his decision in March to resign from Congress and focus full-time on campaigning without the nuisance of constant cross-country flights), or if it even happened (maybe PPP had the right idea all along, and SurveyUSA and Elway coincidentally got weird rolls of the dice in February), but at any rate, things seem to have stabilized with both candidates hovering around 40.
When Daily Kos Elections first released its gubernatorial ratings in early April, our decision to place the race at “Lean Republican” was based on that February round of polling, but with the expectation that we’d, at some point, be moving the race to Tossup, assuming that Inslee’s share of the vote would improve as he got better known. As we’ve gotten to the point now where the parties seem more evenly matched, we’re upgrading the race to “Tossup.”
Source: Daily Kos