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Public Policy Polling (pdf). 2/16-19. Washington voters. MoE ±2.8%. (5/12-15 results):

Jay Inslee (D): 42 (38)
Rob McKenna (R): 42 (40)
Undecided: 16 (22)
This is why, in polling just as in medicine, it's good to go get second (and third) opinions. Amidst reports of restive donors and insiders, Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee was starting to look like his low-profile-so-far race for governor had slipped into a position where it wasn't going to be salvageable, trailing Republican AG Rob McKenna by 9 or 10 points in two polls last week, from SurveyUSA and well-regarded local pollster Elway. PPP sees a different-looking race, though: They saw it closer than most pollsters did last May, and now they find a tied race (which would be Inslee's best showing since a SurveyUSA poll from last June that put him in the lead).

Do I have an explanation for this disparity? Nope ... it's not an overly Democrat-friendly sample: It broke 53 Obama-39 McCain in the 2008 election (actual result was 57-40). What's different here, in the crosstabs, from most pollsters is that Inslee does just as well at retaining self-identified Democrats as McKenna does among Republicans; Inslee gets 81 percent of the Democratic vote (up from 68 percent last time, when he wasn't as well-known among Democrats), while McKenna also gets 81 percent over the GOP vote (up from 79 percent, which confirms that he's already consolidated as much of his base as he can ... and, as expected, McKenna leads among indies, 43-31). PPP finds Inslee closing the name rec gap, and finds that both are likeable-enough fellows: Inslee's overall faves are 36/28 while McKenna's are 39/29.

You might think that the usually-tolerant state of Washington wouldn't be ground zero for the culture wars in November, but it's looking that way, thanks to two ballot initiatives, which PPP also polled. I-502, which would legalize and regulate marijuana, has already qualified for the ballot; it's passing by a significant margin, with "yes" leading 47-39. (Interestingly, party lines blur a lot on this issue: Only 62 percent of Democrats support it, while only 63 percent of Republicans oppose it. It leads among all age groups except seniors.)

Also, with gay marriage recently enacted by the legislature, it's highly likely there will be a "people's veto" referendum on the subject in November. This question is much closer than the marijuana issue, believe it or not: A vote to uphold the law is leading 50 to 46. (On the 3-part question of whether voters favor gay marriage, civil unions only, or no recognition, that breaks down 46-32-20, with a majority even of Republicans supporting at least civil unions. It looks like the majority of "civil unions only" people will be votes against gay marriage in November, though.)

A few other numbers: Senior Sen. Patty Murray has positive job approvals at 50/43, while outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire remains unpopular at 40/53. They also find Republican Reagan Dunn leading Democrat Bob Ferguson in the open attorney general's race, 34-32 (in a case where the Republican may have gotten some crossover votes out of the publicity earned when he came out in support of gay marriage).

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Feb 22, 2012 at 11:16 AM PST.

Also republished by PacNW Kossacks and Jay Inslee WA Governor 2012 Keep WA Blue.

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