This Washington

New Poll: McKenna Leading, Winning with Independents

By Josh Feit January 17, 2012

According to a new KING 5 poll, Republican Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna is (still) beating US Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA, 1) in the governor's race. (He's been ahead all fall—by an average of 6.4 points.) McKenna is leading 46-43 in KING 5's new poll.

That's certainly a close spread given the poll's plus or minus four percent margin of error. But there are two results here that are undeniably good news for McKenna. First, McKenna is beating Inslee among independents, 46-38, and he's winning in the Puget Sound—King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, 45 to 44. The blue turf is key for Inslee. US Sen. Patty Murray relied on huge turnout and big margins in King County to beat Dino Rossi, 65-35, in 2010, when she won 52-47 overall. (Murray beat Rossi 51.49 to 47.81 in Snohomish County and lost in Pierce to Rossi 49.44 to 49.85.)  If McKenna can hover above 40 percent in King County, he'll be tough for the Democrat to beat.

McKenna also fares better with voters when asked who's better on the budget and education while Inslee beats McKenna on the environment and on social issues. Inslee supports gay marriage and McKenna does not.

KING 5 reports:
When asked about specific issues, voters in the poll expressed more confidence in McKenna on managing the state budget—44% say the attorney general would do a better job than 35% for Congressman Inslee.  And on education, McKenna leads as well (40% to 35% for Inslee).

However, Inslee does better if voters make their decisions on social issues and the environment.  In the poll, 43% say Inslee better reflects their position on social issues, compared to 40% for McKenna.  And on the environment, a hallmark issue for Inslee, he has a double-digit advantage with 45% saying Inslee would be stronger than McKenna, whom 30% felt would be better for the environment.

A note on McKenna's lead with independents. The last time KING 5 polled the Inslee McKenna race around Thanksgiving, McKenna led among independents 45-29, a lead of 16 points that has now dropped to eight points.
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