Poll: Inslee 44, McKenna 41
A new Elway Poll shows Washington state's fiercely competitve gubernatorial race tightening less than two months before election day. Former Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee holds just a slight lead over Attorney General Rob McKenna, 44 percent to 41 percent, a decrease from his 43 percent to 36 percent advantage in a July Elway poll that was conducted just two weeks before he bested McKenna in Washington's top-two primary. 15 percent of voters remain undecided, compared to 21 percent in the July survey.
The spread between the candidates is not much different than in the August 7 primary, in which Inslee topped McKenna, 47percent to 43 percent.
The survey proves what pundits have been saying for months, that the contest in Washington state is one of the most competitive gubernatorial races in the country. That's good news for McKenna, who is hoping to become Washington's first Republican governor since John Spellman left office in 1985.
The good news for McKenna is two-fold. Not only has the race tightened since he began airing ads in the state - his first ad went up on July 27, less than a week after the July Elway poll was conducted - but he also leads the national Republican ticket in this most recent poll, where Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan trail President Obama and Vice President Biden, 53 to 36 percent.
McKenna's campaign is relying heavily on its ability to attract crossover Obama-McKenna voters in November and has often pointed out that McKenna was the only statewide candidate to outperform Obama in 2008, during his second attorney general bid. McKenna has worked hard to appeal to Obama voters and distance himself from the national Republican ticket, declining to appear at two Seattle-area fundraisers with Paul Ryan earlier this week. And when Obama unsurprisingly endorsed Inslee this week, McKenna's campaign was quick to point out that the president's views on education - a hot-button issue in Washington state this cycle - are actually much closer to McKenna's than to Inslee's.