According to the latest KING 5 poll, just 22 percent of voters say they support Mayor Mike McGinn—three percent fewer than supported former mayor Greg Nickels at this time in 2009, when Nickels lost in an eight-way primary. McGinn has been on a slight roll lately—he got good reviews in the mainstream press for MayDay; he's got a perfect villain like David Stern as a nemesis to fuel some populist points; and he's been rolling out new initiative after new initative from his bully pulpit. Yet ... no big jump?
The lineup, in brief: Undecided (23 percent); McGinn (22 percent); Peter Steinbrueck (17 percent); Ed Murray (15 percent); Bruce Harrell (12 percent); Charlie Staadecker and Kate Martin (4 percent); and Mary Martin (3 percent).
McGinn, who had six opponents when the poll was taken (two more, Joey Gray and Doug McQuaid, filed at the last minute and weren't included), increased his support from 15 percent in March, thanks largely to a growing number of voters who are no longer undecided—two months ago, 34 percent said they didn't know who they supported, compared to 23 percent this month.
The March poll had former King County executive Ron Sims claiming 15 percent of the vote in a hypothetical race. Now, with an actual slate of declared candidates (and no Sims), McGinn hasn't gained as much ground as he needs to guarantee an easy path through the primary. And if he does make it through, he'll have to scoop up virtually all of the undecided voters to actually win reelection.
McGinn supporters will disagree, painting the seven-point gain as a victory for the mayor. But they shouldn't. Twenty-two percent support means 78 percent of voters aren't backing the mayor—and those are the kind of numbers that can knock an incumbent out in the primary.
Also bad news for McGinn: Both Murray and Steinbrueck jumped significantly—Murray's support jumped 67 percent and Steinbrueck's increased by 70 percent, indicating that undecided voters are settling in the Murray and Steinbrueck camps. Meanwhile, a seven point pick-up for McGinn, with pretty much universal name recognition already, is an overall increase of 43 percent, comparatively low.
City council member Bruce Harrell, meanwhile, got a 7-point boost, but still remained in the back of the crowd at 12 percent.
Bottom line: I wouldn't put money on McGinn making it through the primary. And I wouldn't count Steinbrueck out just yet.