Jay Inslee (D): 36 (17)Here's one more poll for the pile showing that Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee's got his work cut out for him in trying to keep the Democrats' 28-year hold on Washington's governorship going: local pollster Elway -- who local conservatives like to ding for coming up with too-friendly-to-Democrats results -- finds Inslee in his deepest hole yet in the race, down 9 points. The good news here, if there is any, is that McKenna doesn't perform any better here than he has in any other poll; basically every poll this cycle has put him in the 44-46 point range, having consolidated the Republican base, but never breaking free toward the 50% mark.
Rob McKenna (R): 45 (20)
Undecided: 20 (49)
The difference from pollster to pollster always seems to be how engaged with Inslee the Dem-leaning undecideds are, as he's ranged anywhere from the high 30s to the mid 40s, and here Elway finds them not engaged at all. (Both this and the previous Elway poll -- which only did a kitchen-sink version of the Top 2 primary -- sported much higher undecideds than other pollsters, and as David Nir mentioned in the daily digest, there are some methodological quirks here that make it seem like leaners aren't being pushed very hard here.) Methodological quibbling, though, can't paper over the fact that there's a perception problem here that Inslee has to overcome: he's at 28/22 "positive"/"negative" impression (again, a strange way of asking favorables), compared with 42/14 for McKenna.
The Seattle Times writeup of this poll contains an odd little tidbit that may actually be more newsworthy than the poll itself: it says that Democratic insiders, seemingly increasingly jittery about Inslee's ability to light a fire in this race (and perhaps kicking themselves over clearing a primary-free path for him), have been urging Inslee to resign from Congress and plant himself in the other Washington for full-time campaigning. For many of you, that probably conjures up memories of now-Gov. Neil Abercrombie's unnecessary 2010 House resignation and the subsequent fluky victory in HI-01, a district even bluer than WA-01, by Republican Charles Djou.
So how would that play out here? If Inslee does decide to resign, but he can hold out until early March (but before May's filing deadline), we'd enter a window where, under Washington election law, the primary and general special elections would take place at the same time as the regularly scheduled primary and general. (That's similar to how David Patterson managed to kick the can on a potentially embarrassing NY-29 special election in 2010, except here, the governor doesn't have any scheduling discretion; it's simply required this way by statute.) So that would eliminate the possibility of a resource-consuming special in the middle of the year.
It could lead to a whole different level of weirdness, though, given that redistricting will be taking effect at that point. Will the "special election" be run under the existing WA-01 lines, or the newly drawn ones? If the special is under the old lines, you could have a strange situation where residents of Shoreline and Edmonds are voting in the WA-01 special election and the WA-07 regular election at the same time. And given that the new WA-01 is considerably less blue than the old WA-01, we could even wind up with a hypothetical situation where a Dem wins the old-lines special and a Republican wins the new-lines general on the same day, leaving the luckless Dem to serve out the lame duck session (a la Shelley Sekula-Gibbs of TX-22 in 2006, or, as we prefer to call her, Snelly Gibbr).