Editor's note: We've asked a number of political analysts, hacks, and general know-it-alls to weigh in on the mayor's race. Here's the latest installment from one of them, on what the cross-tabs (demographic stats) in yesterday's KING-5 poll results say about the mayoral race.
The KING-5 poll surveyed 810 registered voters; of those, 552 identified themselves as likely to vote in the August primary.
The All-Powerful Senior Vote
Former city council member Peter Steinbrueck does well with voters 65 and older, who tend to be overrepresented in the primary election. He might have scooped some of them up in the wake of Tim Burgess’s withdrawal. However, Ed Murray has the support of 20 percent of voters between 50 and 64, suggesting he may be able to take some of the senior demographic away from Steinbrueck.
Charlie Staadecker is not a factor with the senior voters in either age group, but this could change if he manages to set aside any money for voter contact (currently, Staadecker is spending the biggest chunk of his money on fund-raiser Colby Underwood.)
Mayor Mike McGinn is the strongest candidate with the youngest voters (18-34) at 20 percent—and, surprisingly, with Republicans, at 21 percent. Those are also most undecided blocs—at 33 percent and 45 percent, respectively. (And, grain of salt: The 552-person poll included 12 percent who identified themselves as Republicans, meaning that just 14 self-identified Republicans also said they supported McGinn.)Fifty-three percent say McGinn has done a poor job, compared to 32 percent who approve. Those numbers might be a mitigated by the retirement of Police Chief John Diaz, but that is still a major hurdle..
The question if the city is going in the right direction or wrong direction seems to be inconsequential.
Thirty-seven percent of respondents said the city was going in the right direction; 41 percent said wrong, and 22 percent were undecided. These are questions that can make or break an incumbent when they skew strongly one way or the other. Overall, though, likability is a much better indicator of electability, (think Bush v. Gore) and this poll did not test for it.
Bruce Harrell leads with both Asian-American and African-American voters at 28 percent and 21 percent, respectively, but McGinn is right behind him at 25 and 19 percent with the same demographics, respectively. Harrell might want to work on taking these voters from the mayor.
Mayor’s job approval and handling of the police department
The mayor’s job approval numbers are really poor, with 49 percent saying they disapprove of the job McGinn is doing. (Thirty-seven percent say they approve, and—in the second-to-lowest "undecided" percentage of the poll—just 13 percent say they don't have an opinion of his performance). In comparision, former mayor Greg Nickels, who narrowly lost in the August primary four years ago, had a disapproval rating of 61 percent in January of that year.
It’s impossible to look at this poll and say the mayor is going to run away with this primary election. Neither, though, is there a sign that McGinn doesn't have a shot. With only 56 days until absentee ballots are mailed, there is no dominant challenger. If the election were held today, Peter Steinbrueck and Mayor McGinn would be going to the general. Unseating either is job one for the other capable candidates in the race with so little time left.
The race for mayor is wide open. Rumors of McGinn’s demise (or Murray’s dominance) are premature.