U.S. Sen. Patty Murray holds a substantial 18-point lead over Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley, claiming huge majorities of Democratic voters and breaking even with independents, in a new poll commissioned by The Seattle Times and partners.
Murray, a Democrat seeking a sixth term in office, leads Smiley 51% to 33%, according to the WA Poll.
The 18-point spread is the best result for Murray in any of the half-dozen publicly released polls in the last year.
In every public poll of the race, Murray’s support has been within 48% and 51%, while Smiley’s has varied between 31% and 43%.
Murray is running on Democratic priorities like addressing climate change, lowering the price of prescription drugs and restoring abortion rights. Smiley, a veterans advocate and former nurse, is offering herself as a fresh choice for voters disillusioned by Murray’s long tenure in office and worried about inflation, border security and crime.
The race is critical to Democratic hopes of retaining or building upon their razor-thin Senate majority in an election year shaping up to be favorable to Republicans.
Murray, in a prepared statement, said she was focused on tackling inflation and legislation to lower costs for prescription drug prices and child care.
“Sen. Murray has never taken any election for granted with good reason — she knows exactly what is at stake: the right to abortion, health care, our very democracy and solutions that lower costs for working families in Washington state,” Murray campaign manager Helen Hare said. “Tiffany Smiley can count on extreme MAGA Republicans to pour millions into this race to close the gap at any moment.”
Elisa Carlson, a spokesperson for the Smiley campaign, criticized Murray for her 30 years in the Senate, the sixth-longest of any senator.
“Tiffany Smiley is running from a position of strength by addressing the concerns of Washingtonian families,” Carlson said. “It’s no wonder Patty Murray has spent millions running negative ads. She’s the one who’s nervous — and she should be — because she has a three-decade record of failure in the Senate that she can’t defend.”
The WA Poll — a partnership involving The Seattle Times, KING 5, the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public and Washington State University’s Murrow College of Communication — was conducted by SurveyUSA between July 6 and July 10.
More poll results will be released in the coming days on subjects including abortion rights, gun laws, the Jan. 6 hearings and election misinformation.
The poll showed each candidate’s support delineated along lines of gender, ideology and geography.
Murray’s lead is fueled by her strong support from female voters, who favored Murray over Smiley by 34 points, whereas it was nearly a dead heat among male voters, with Murray leading by just 2 points.
Both candidates win massive support from their party faithful. Murray wins Democrats by an 84-point gap, while Smiley wins Republicans by 80 points. But in a state that leans blue, that’s enough to provide a substantial lead for the incumbent. The poll shows a dead heat among independents, with each candidate garnering 38% support.
Murray wins a 52-point advantage among urban voters, who constitute about a quarter of respondents. She wins by 12 points among suburban voters, who make up about half of respondents. Smiley wins rural voters, who constitute the remaining quarter of respondents, by 3 points.
There is also a clear demarcation between the two candidates based on what issue voters say is most important.
Voters listed abortion and inflation as their two most important issues. Those that listed abortion first favored Murray by a whopping 62-point margin. Those who listed inflation as most important favored Smiley by 24 percentage points.
Murray also holds commanding leads among voters who say their top issue is climate or guns, while Smiley holds equally impressive leads among voters who say their top issue is border security or crime.
The poll results are based on online interviews of 596 Washington residents who are likely to vote in November. SurveyUSA weighted the results by gender, age, race, education and homeownership, and it has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5 percentage points.