One poll released Wednesday shows Jenny Durkan leading in the race for Seattle mayor, with Bob Hasegawa battling for second place. Another poll has Mike McGinn out ahead of the pack.
Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan and former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn are leaders in the race for Seattle mayor, according to a pair of polls released Wednesday.
But Durkan could lose votes if Mayor Ed Murray were to re-enter the race, and Murray is serious enough about the idea that he’s doing his own polling this week.
The mayor ended his re-election bid this past month, saying that despite his vehement denials that he sexually abused teenagers in the 1980s, the allegations had become too distracting.
“The mayor is fielding his own poll this week and will likely make a decision about the race next week,” his personal spokesman, Jeff Reading, said in an email Wednesday.
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Though the polls are the first of their kind in the contest, they’re also imperfect, with some types of voters left out and margins for error.
A poll of likely primary voters by Wilson Strategic for the nonpartisan news website Washington State Wire says Durkan is the clear front-runner and says the battle for second place is wide open, with state Sen. Bob Hasegawa enjoying a slight edge.
But a KING 5/KUOW poll finds McGinn is the front-runner, followed by Durkan.
And while the Aug. 1 primary is rapidly approaching, some voters are just tuning in. Many respondents in both polls were undecided.
Durkan was viewed favorably by about half of the respondents in the landline poll for Washington State Wire.
The candidate, who has a huge fundraising advantage, was the first choice of about 30 percent of 475 respondents contacted last week, well ahead of her rivals.
Hasegawa earned a 40 percent favorability rating, and he was the first choice of about 9 percent of voters, beating out everyone except Durkan.
About 28 percent of the Washington State Wire poll’s respondents, who were given short descriptions of each candidate, said they were unsure of their first choice. And about 17 percent didn’t answer the question.
There will be 21 candidates on the primary ballot, but the Washington State Wire poll asked about only six: Durkan, Hasegawa, McGinn, urban planner Cary Moon, educator and attorney Nikkita Oliver and former state Rep. Jessyn Farrell.
McGinn, who lost a re-election bid to Murray four years ago, was the choice of about 6 percent of the poll’s respondents, leading Moon with 4 percent, Oliver with 3 percent and Farrell with 2 percent.
The Washington State Wire poll had a margin of error of 4 percentage points and the respondents were a random population of Seattle residents who voted in at least three of four primary and general elections held in 2013 and 2015.
Only those who said they intended to vote in this summer’s primary were asked questions and included in the four-minute poll. Because the poll contacted only voters with landlines, the respondents likely skewed older.
Longtime local pollster Stuart Elway, of The Elway Poll, said landline polls can be problematic because they leave out cellphone-only voters, who are numerous in Seattle. On the other hand, Elway said he expects a low-turnout primary dominated by landline-type voters.
The top two finishers in the primary will advance to the general election. Ballots will be mailed to voters in mid-July.
The Murray factor
McGinn led the KING 5/KUOW poll with 19 percent of likely voters surveyed. Durkan was a close second with 14 percent — “neck and neck” with McGinn when figuring in the poll’s 4.5 percentage-point margin of error.
Oliver had 9 percent among the KING 5/KUOW poll’s 503 respondents, Hasegawa 8 percent, Farrell 6 percent and Moon 3 percent, while 38 percent were undecided.
McGinn has support among young, male and middle-income voters, while Durkan has support among older, female and affluent voters, according to the poll.
The KING 5/KUOW poll reached voters via landline and electronic devices earlier this month.
D.J. Wilson, a political consultant whose media company recently took over and relaunched Washington State Wire, said he was surprised by how unpopular some candidates were in his poll. McGinn was viewed unfavorably by about 46 percent of respondents, while more than 20 percent unfavorably viewed Moon, Oliver and Farrell.
“Really only Durkan and Hasegawa had strong favorable-versus-unfavorable numbers,” said Wilson, calling Hasegawa “the first among equals” after Durkan.
Hasegawa, a former Teamsters union leader who lives in South Seattle, is barred from accepting campaign contributions while the Legislature remains in session.
“He’s got to raise some money to be able to stay elevated,” Wilson said. Otherwise, “It’s possible Cary Moon or Nikkita Oliver could move beyond him pretty quickly.”
Farrell, who gave up her Northeast Seattle statehouse seat to focus on the mayoral campaign, had a weaker showing in the poll than Wilson expected.
The one-time executive director of the nonprofit Transportation Choices Coalition was described to respondents in the Washington State Wire poll as “a former legislator and advocate for multimodal transportation options.”
Durkan was described as “a former U.S. attorney who worked on police reform at the city of Seattle,” and Moon was “a small-business owner and advocated against the waterfront tunnel.”
McGinn was described as “a former mayor and advocate for increased environmental stewardship”; Oliver as “a community advocate and educator focused on issues affecting low- and middle-income households”; and Hasegawa as “a current state senator and advocate for working families and labor reform.”
The Washington State Wire poll also asked voters about Murray, who ended his re-election bid this past month after four men publicly accused him of sexually abusing them in the 1980s when he was an adult and they were teenagers.
This past week, after a Kent man withdrew his sexual-abuse lawsuit against the mayor, Murray said he would consider relaunching his campaign as a write-in candidate.
About 22 percent of the Washington State Wire poll respondents, contacted after the lawsuit was withdrawn, said Murray would be their first choice if he were to re-enter the race.
Durkan would be harmed in that scenario, seeing her share of the first-choice pie drop from 30 to 18 percent, according to Wilson.
Murray did even better in the KING 5/KUOW poll, with 33 percent of respondents saying they would vote for him if he were on the ballot.