Fizz hears (and not from Bruce Harrell's campaign), that Harrell was edging up in spot check polling last week.
That's not to say Harrell is now a favorite to go through to the general, though despite his fourth place (11 percent) showing in KING 5 polling two and a half weeks ago, no one is ready to write him off. It's more to say that: A) with such a small electorate (145,000 votes expected ... or a 35 percent turnout); B) with such a big bloc of undecided voters in first place (25 percent at last count); and C) with such small margins between all the candidates (incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn and challenger state Sen. Ed Murray are supposedly jockeying for the top two spots at 21 and 22 respectively, while former council member Peter Steinbrueck and Harrell, at 14 and 11, are threatening to bump either one out), Tuesday night's results are anybody's guess.
The important question about Harrell's apparent uptick is this: Is he picking up undecided voters or is he siphoning votes from McGinn, Murray, or Steinbrueck?
Murray's first place showing in the KING 5 poll, 22 percent up from 15 percent, could have simply been an "Anyone But McGinn" vote—soft support.
If he's siphoning votes, it's most likely from Murray. McGinn's numbers have been locked in place for months (low 20s), indicating he has a loyal (and perhaps just enough to get through) base of voters. And Steinbrueck also has a loyal core. Steinbrueck's drop in the most recent polling, down to 14 from 17, is likely explained away by the fact that the KING 5 poll oversampled younger voters; Steinbrueck is more popular with older voters. This means Murray's first place showing in the KING 5 poll, 22 percent up from 15 percent, could have simply been an "Anyone But McGinn" vote—soft support that is now shifting to Harrell. Too little, too late to put Harrell in the final mix? Most likely. But perhaps also enough to shake up the current rankings and jeopardize Murray's chances of going through.
A sign of just how fluid this thing is with one day to go.
Scenario Two: If Harrell's picking up undecideds (the more likely scenario ... because there's a lot more of them to grab), that's bad for Steinbrueck and McGinn (second and third in the KING 5 poll) because it could be enough to knock either one out. It's particularly bad for McGinn because it also indicates that "undecideds" aren't shrugging after surveying their other choices and suddenly opting to come home to the incumbent. (While McGinn was just a point behind Murray, the over-representation of young voters in the KING 5 poll means McGinn's second place showing was more likely closer to third than it was to first.)
Fizz is not contrarian enough to predict that Harrell goes through on Tuesday night (again, KING 5 had him in fourth just two weeks ago at 11 percent) nor that an incumbent with a good field game like McGinn won't survive, but we're not willing to count Harrell out, nor McGinn in—a sign of just how fluid this thing is with one day to go.
Erica will be on KUOW at noon to talk about the mayor's race.
Tune in 94.9 FM at noon.