A Senate race that was expected to be a somewhat easy victory for Democrats is apparently growing closer, a new poll indicated.
According to the results of a poll conducted by The Trafalgar Group, 49.2 percent of likely general election voters in Washington state said they would vote for Democratic candidate Patty Murray if the election for United States Senate were held today.
However, 46.3 percent of likely voters said they would vote for Republican candidate Tiffany Smiley, putting her just 2.9 percentage points behind Murray.
The poll received responses from 1,087 likely general election voters, and it had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. This was the exact discrepancy between the two candidates.
In addition, 4.5 percent of likely voters said they were undecided about their vote. Those voters represent more than enough to give Smiley the lead if they decide to vote for her.
— Dr. Benjamin Braddock (@GraduatedBen) September 4, 2022
Washington has not had a Republican U.S. senator since T. Slade Gordon left office in 2001, Ballotpedia data showed. Gaining a seat there could go a long way to help the Republicans’ effort to regain control in the Senate.
In addition to the seat’s tendency to stay solidly blue, the close margin in Trafalgar’s poll is particularly surprising for two additional reasons.
First, Murray received a large percentage of the vote in the state’s nonpartisan primary on Aug. 2. According to the Washington Secretary of State’s website, Murray won 52.2 percent of the vote, and Smiley came in a distant second with 33.7 percent.
The next closest contender was Leon Lawson, who received just 3.08 percent of the vote. John Guenther came in fourth with 2.89 percent of the vote.
Since both Lawson and Guenther said they leaned towards the right, it is possible their supporters would pivot to Smiley as she takes on Murray head-to-head. Even so, that would only give Smiley about 39.7 percent of the vote, well short of the findings of Trafalgar’s poll.
That brings us to the second surprising element of the poll: the plurality of respondents were Democrats.
The Trafalgar Group asked each respondent which party they identified with, and 44.2 percent said Democrat. Only 33.4 percent of respondents said they were Republicans, and 22.4 percent identified as “No Party/Other.”
This party participation combined with the increased support for Smiley suggests some voters who identify as Democrats may not be sold on the idea of re-electing Patty Murray. At the very least, it suggests most people who did identify as Republican or Democrat support Smiley.
If all respondents who said they were Democrats also said they would vote for Murray, that would give her 44.2 percent support. Since she received only 49.2 percent total support, that would suggest just 5 percent of the remaining respondents who identified as Republicans or independents supported her.
In turn, since Smiley received 46.3 percent support and just 33.4 percent of respondents were Republicans, she would have needed to receive an additional 12.9 percent support from some combination of Democrats and independents.
The results of this poll indicate Murray is either losing support among Democrats, or she is vastly underperforming among independents.
In either case, it is a great sign for Smiley’s chances to flip the Senate seat red in November.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.