A congenial end to a nasty race; Ferguson will have to buy his own rug


After battling on-air over Persian rugs and cop-killers, King County colleagues Bob Ferguson and Reagan Dunn appear to have remained congenial on a personal level—one small reassurance in an otherwise nasty campaign season.

Ferguson and Dunn started the year by saying they liked each other, and even through some testy debates, they remained on decent speaking terms.  Today, Dunn issued a gracious concession:

"I believe firmly that there is a time for campaigning and a time for governing.  Our nation and our country have many pressing problems that demand we all reach for solutions, and I intend to lead in that effort here in King County.  I believe Washington will be well-served by its next Attorney General.  I will miss Bob’s service on the King County Council and look forward to working with him as he heads to Olympia."

One footnote:  Ferguson may be the next Attorney General, but he will lose out on a Persian rug.  Dunn had offered, if he were to win the AG’s race, to leave his office rug (Ferguson’s ad: “He wasted taxpayer money on a Persian rug!”) with Ferguson, because it is, after all county property.


Just five days before election day, a new KING 5 poll finds the race for governor is a dead heat, with Democrat Jay Inslee at 47 percent, Republican Rob McKenna at 46 percent — within the poll’s margin of error.

The poll conducted by SurveyUSA Oct. 28-31 finds McKenna has closed the gap in the past month, with the undecided vote standing at 7 percent. Our last poll two weeks ago also showed the race within the margin of error, with Inslee ahead by three points. A month ago, Inslee was ahead by five points in our poll.

The governor’s race can be influenced by presidential politics, and our KING 5 poll finds no movement in Washington state with Democrat Barack Obama maintaining a 14-point lead over Republican Mitt Romney, 54 percent to 40 percent.

The poll also shows that the race over Referendum 74 has tightened. The referendum on same-sex marriage has 52 percent approving with 43 percent saying they’ll reject. With ballot measures, undecided votes often lean “no” toward the end, and the latest KING 5 poll finds 5 percent saying they’re not sure. Two weeks ago, the KING 5 poll had the measure leading at 54 percent to 41 percent.

Meanwhile, I-502 which would legalize some possession of marijuana stands at 56 percent approval, with 37 percent saying they would reject and 7 percent not sure.

The poll of 555 likely voters has a margin of error of 4.2 percent.

Republicans: Governor Gregoire “exploited system to the max”


Republicans say they’ve uncovered new evidence that Governor Christine Gregoire’s office played politics when appointing a sitting state senator to a government position. 

E-mail documents show Republican State Senator Cheryl Pflug was late to submit her application for a job with the Growth Management Hearings Board, and that the governor’s staff was concerned about whether she met the qualifications for the job.

The governor appointed Pflug, just in time for Pflug to take her name off the ballot for re-election to her senate seat.

Internal e-mails and notes show the governor’s staff was aware of the May 21st deadline for Pflug to withdraw from the election.  “What she (the governor) has done is unprecedented…she has exploited the system to the max,” said Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale).  Republicans complain that the timing left their party with no time to consider other candidates for the position.

Ericksen says he plans to introduce legislation this year that would prohibit a governor from appointing a sitting legislator to a position so close to the filing date.

Gregoire was required to appoint a Republican to this particular position, and the governor’s office today denied any political considerations.  “There’s absolutely no truth to what Sen. Ericksen is claiming,” said Karina Shargrin, spokesperson for the governor.

The e-mails Ericksen circulated, show the governor’s staff debated Pflug’s qualifications.  By state law, at least one member from each region must be an attorney and at least one member from each region must have been a local elected official.  Pflug was elected to the state senate, which is not technically a local elected position.  She also has not yet passed the bar, though she was just finishing law school classes at the time she applied.  “She does not hold a J.D….She has not held a local elected position,” notes governor staffer Carol Albert.  “She is aware that her application was submitted late…Based on this data - Kim and I recommend that Pflug not go through the interview process.”

While staff felt Pflug did not meet either of those qualifications, Shagrin says it wasn’t a requirement that Pflug be either a lawyer or a local elected official.  The other person representing the central region is Margaret Pageler, who fills both qualifications by being a lawyer and a former member of the Seattle City Council.



Auditor Brian Sonntag announces future plans


State Auditor Brian Sonntag, who decided not to run for re-election this year, has accepted a new job as Chief Financial Officer for The Rescue Mission in Tacoma.

The Rescue Mission provides food and housing for homeless men, women and children in the Pierce County area.

Sonntag, a Democrat, has been State Auditor since 1993.  He briefly considered a run for governor, but decided instead to leave public office. 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna stands up for Big Bird—telling us in this interview that he would not favor cutting subsidies to PBS.  In the first Presidential debate, Republican Mitt Romney said he would cut public television funding, but McKenna says he has donated to public radio and TV and doesn’t think the federal government would gain that much by Big Bird’s funding.

Up Front AM: Christie returns for encore in Washington state



Five weeks to go, and Inslee has a 6-point lead over McKenna, according to the latest KING 5 poll conducted by SurveyUSA.

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He’s coming back:  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is making an encore appearance in Washington state this week.  McKenna spokesman Charles McCray says, “We have a fundraiser in Kennewick and another in Lynnwood. They are not open to the press but the WSRP is currently working to adjust the Governor’s calendar to allow him to make a quick stop to visit with volunteers. If we make that happen, he won’t take questions but you can get video.”

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Don’t count out McKenna. The Republican Governors Association raised $15 million in the third quarter of this year ($44 million total for the year), money it can dump into races around the country. If the GOP group decides Inslee’s lead is soft, some of that money could wind up here.

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Assumption: McKenna needs Mitt Romney to hit a homerun in tomorrow night’s presidential debate. Obama will win Washington, but if Romney can cut into the president’s lead in the state, that could help McKenna’s numbers.

The two candidates meet tonight in Yakima for a debate.   KCTS will televise it at 7 p.m. (and stream it on their website).

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Don’t forget: Oct. 11 is the next debate in Seattle, where all the TV stations are cosponsoring the event.


Five days later — the KING 5 / The Seattle Times debate, at KING-TV studios.

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R-74: Seattle Town Hall hosts a debate on same-sex marriage tonight.

Debate highs: Alison Holcomb and Kevin Sabet debated the marijuana decriminalization initiative yesterday on KCTS.

"He said ‘job creators,’ DRINK!": Seen on Reddit this morning — an notice that Hattie’s Hat in Ballard will have a presidential debate watching party Wednesday night … “in the back room with a projector and some of the best people in Seattle.”


Seattle Town Hall is holding a debate watch party too.

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Trail bites:

Everett Herald piece on the two candidates running in for the state House in District 10.

FUSE Washington’s Sizzle-Fizzle Awards.

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Russ Walker is managing editor of king5.com.  Michael Cate is producer and Robert Mak is host of KING 5 News Up Front, airing Sundays at 9:30 am on KING-TV.

Even in Washington state, fans saw an interception—but they’ll take the win


A new KING 5 poll of Washington state residents finds most adults who saw the play that decided last night’s Seahawks-Packers game, believe the Packers did indeed intercept the ball.

Our poll finds 44% say they would call it an interception, while 36% believe the Seahawks made the touchdown.  Nevertheless, 40% tell SurveyUSA, a win is a win and they’re celebrating for the Seahawks, while only 18% of Washington state residents say they feel sorry for the Packers.

Irrelevant breakdown of the day:  Democrats are more likely to believe the Seahawks made a touchdown (47% vs. 37% who believe it was an interception), while Republicans are more evenly split (40% to 42%).  This is likely influenced by the fact that fans in the Puget Sound area were more likely to back the referees’ call than those in eastern Washington.

And among those age 18-34, 50% believe the Seahawks completed the pass, vs. only 34% of those over age 65.

Up Front AM: Attacks on McKenna, Christie returns and Inslee on health care


KING 5’s first “Ad Watch” of the 2012 general election ran Wednesday night — a look at a Democratic-backed attack ad targeting Rob McKenna. So is the ad a fair swipe at McKenna? Find out here if you missed it last night.

Chris Christie is coming to town … again. The New Jersey governor — who was on many observers’ short list for Mitt Romney’s VP pick — will headline an Oct. 4 fundraiser in Lynnwood for Rob McKenna. Christie was in Washington last month to help McKenna. Details on the Oct. 4 event.

Regardless of what happens with the same-sex marriage initiative on this fall’s ballot, the issue won’t be resolved nationally until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg thinks that will come in the next year. Speaking Wednesday in Colorado, Ginsburg, a Clinton appointee to the court, said, “I think it’s most likely that we will have that issue before the court toward the end of the current term.”

If voters here pass R-74 and Washington’s new law goes before the court (either singly or as part of a multi-state case), it may not matter who wins the Attorney General race this year. That’s because both Reagan Dunn (R) and Bob Ferguson (D) are on the record supporting same-sex marriage.

The two candidates for King Co. Sheriff — acting Sheriff Steve Strachan and former KCSO spokesman John Urquhart — appeared at a candidate forum Wednesday in Renton. KING 5 ran a short bit on it.

A dual endorsement by Democrats in the race for state Rep. in the 36th District? You bet. The Slog has more.

A veterans jobs bill backed by Washington Sen. Patty Murray (D) was blocked Wednesday by Republicans. The PI reports the bill fell two votes short of the 60 needed to do anything of consequence in Congress’s upper chamber.

Campaign reform in Seattle elections? That’s what Mike O’Brien is trying to achieve with a bill “that would limit the amount of time candidates for city office are allowed to raise money and bar incumbents from keeping money in their campaign accounts after their election.” Publicola reports that the bill cleared the council’s Government Oversight Committee on Wednesday.

An A-plus for creativity goes to Pacific Mayor Cy Sun, who promoted his personal blog on utility bills. Legal or not, it shows moxie. KING 5’s Elisa Hahn got the story.

Today on the trail

Thursday is a big day for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee.  At noon he is the featured speaker at the Tacoma Rotary at the Temple Theatre.  At 2:15 p.m. he releases his health care proposals. At 4 p.m. he talks to the Washington Roundtable, an interest group comprised of the state’s major businesses.  

At 7:30 a.m. Attorney General candidate Reagan Dunn (R) is having what he is calling a kick–off breakfast at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. Gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna is scheduled to speak.

First Congressional District candidate John Koster (R) has a fundraiser at 5 p.m. at the Everett Golf and Country Club. KVI Radio host (and former gubernatorial candidate) John Carlson is the guest speaker.

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Russ Walker is managing editor of king5.com.  Michael Cate is producer and Robert Mak is host of KING 5 News Up Front, airing Sundays at 9:30 am on KING-TV.

Up Front AM: McKenna scraps weekly media call


Rob McKenna’s campaign for governor started with encouraging overtures to the press.  Campaign manager Randy Pepple proposed a weekly Friday morning meeting at McKenna’s offices, but with most reporters based in Seattle, a standing Friday morning meeting in Bellevue was difficult to arrange.

Then last month, the campaign announced a weekly teleconference with McKenna himself every Tuesday, and another teleconference each Friday with McKenna’s staff.  After just three weeks, that too, has been cancelled.  Communications director Charles McCray wrote that the call “does not seem to be generating enough interest from our media list or news for your readers/viewers to make them worthwhile to continue given the tight schedule in the remaining 50 days.”

The reality is, there was plenty of interest.  The last teleconference had at least a half-dozen reporters reporters from Seattle to Spokane, including newspaper and broadcast reporters and the Associated Press.  The problem may have been, that McKenna wasn’t driving the agenda.  In the first teleconference, reporters asked about Inslee’s demand that McKenna release his tax returns—hardly an issue McKenna cared to address.  In another teleconference, the campaign had technical problems, and left reporters talking to themselves for 20 minutes.  And the third teleconference was cancelled, on the same morning that a new KING 5 poll showed Inslee in the lead.

Perhaps with best of intentions, the McKenna campaign has had a frustrating time in its attempt to shape coverage and reach out to reporters.  It’ll be worth watching to see if in the final weeks of the campaign, McKenna re-doubles his efforts, or pulls back further.

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Politics bites

The Seattle City Club hosted two debates Tuesday. Attorney General candidates Reagan Dunn (R) and Bob Ferguson (D) are in a “heated race,” but Q13Fox.com said they agree on two issues: both “support gay marriage and both oppose pot legalization.” Publicola was there too.

At the Secretary of State debate, KUOW said the candidates differed most on the issue of voter registration.

Watch both debates on TVW.

Boeing and SPEEA, the union representing engineers and technicians, aren’t any closer to hammering out a new labor contract. On Tuesday, Boeing blamed SPEEA for blowing up talks. A work slow-down could be next, according to a Wall Street Journal piece cited by the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Speaking of Boeing, Washington gridlock could threaten the company’s KC-46 tanker program. If the White House and Congress can’t agree on a new budget deal by the end of the year, mandatory spending cuts would hit a wide range of Pentagon programs, including the tanker.  The Herald’s Aerospace blog has more.

KING 5’s Allen Schauffler looked at medical marijuana advocates who oppose the legalization measure (I-502) on this year’s ballot.

And KING 5’s Drew Mikkelsen visited with Sharon Hanek, the candidate for state Treasurer who won a spot on the ballot through a write-in campaign. The Olympian profiled Hanek earlier this week.

Today on the trail

GOP Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner is holding a fundraiser in Tacoma at the Bargreen Ellingson Test Kitchen (5:30-7:00 p.m.).
 
From 7:00-9:00 p.m. there is a fundraiser for Washington United for Marriage at the Urban Light Studio in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood. Washington United for Marriage is backing Referendum 74.
 
Although not a campaign event, the state unemployment numbers for August will be announced later Wednesday morning.

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Russ Walker is managing editor of king5.com.  Michael Cate is producer and Robert Mak is host of KING 5 News Up Front, airing Sundays at 9:30 am on KING-TV.

Up Front AM: Anyone looking for a swing district?


John Koster leads Suzan DelBene in the 1st congressional district open-seat race, according to the latest KING 5 poll conducted by SurveyUSA.

Koster leads his Democratic opponent in just about every demographic and issue area. Even when voters are asked which candidate would best handle high-tech issues, Koster beat DelBene, a former Microsoft executive.

The poll is certainly good news for Koster, considering our statewide poll finds Obama, Inslee and other Democrats getting a recent bounce. But is the poll measuring political support or name recognition?

Koster has run for Congress twice in the old 2nd District, which includes plenty of areas in the new 1st. And Koster has served as a state Representative and county councilman in the same area. DelBene has run for Congress before, but in the old 8th District, very little of which is in the new 1st.

But there’s stronger case to be made that Koster’s lead is genuine. After all, the 1st District was created in this year’s redistricting process to be a swing district. The rural character of the district could explain the conservative bent of the electorate. And don’t forget: DelBene carpet bombed the district with TV ads in the run-up to the August primary, so name ID shouldn’t be a problem for her.

DelBene, meanwhile, will benefit from a $380,000 ad buy paid for by a campaign PAC backing House Democrats.  The ad “pulls back the curtain on the war on women being waged by extremist, Tea Party politicians like John Koster,” according to the PAC’s press release. The spot will run for two weeks. 

DelBene had more cash on hand in July than Koster and has personal wealth she can pour into the race. But we may not get a good sense for how Republicans see the race until Oct. 15 when the next finance reports are due.

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Trail mix:  On the 1st District playing field: The union representing Boeing engineers and technicians recommended that members reject the company’s latest contract offer.

Did you catch The Seattle Times editorial board’s social media campaign Monday on behalf of same-sex marriage?  The Times is clearly trying to expand the reach of its editorial page.  University of Washington’s Kathy Gill, who studies social media, says it’s a shift from the “passive” editorial to a more “active” engagement of readers.  But R-74 opponent Pastor Joe Fuiten doesn’t think on an issue such as this, it will persuade too many readers.  “Social media is not necessarily a great novelty,” Fuiten says.

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Today on the trail:  Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna both speak at the Association of Washington Cities Candidate Forum. Inslee will speak at 9 am and McKenna at 11am. The forum is at the SeaTac Hilton.  Also scheduled to speak are the candidates for Attorney General, Reagan Dunn and Bob Ferguson, and the candidates for auditor, James Watkins and Troy Kelley.

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Seattle School trouble:  A new state audit finds the price of last year’s financial scandal may be $1.3 million more than initially thought.  The Times’ Linda Shaw has a breakdown.

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Russ Walker is managing editor of king5.com.  Michael Cate is producer and Robert Mak is host of KING 5 News Up Front, airing Sundays at 9:30 am on KING-TV.

State Representative Hargrove fined over campaign video


A state lawmaker is being ordered to pay a $300 fine and to undergo ethics training.  The Legislative Ethics Board determined that Representative Mark Hargrove used the House Republican caucus room in the state capitol to film a campaign video.  Lawmakers are not allowed to use public resources in their campaign efforts.  The complaint also said Hargrove used a budget chart prepared by House staff, and used government e-mail addresses as contacts for his campaign. 

Hargrove is serving his first term in the State House.  He represents the 47th district which includes the Covington and Auburn area.
 

Up Front AM: Debate-a-palooza


There were four debates Wednesday between candidates for the down-ballot statewide races.

The Seattle Times’ Brian Rosenthal covered the great Dunn-Ferguson debate on Wednesday — a debate sponsored by the Times and the Washington Coalition for Open Government. His take: The two King County Councilmembers “each tried to claim that he has been its biggest advocate for transparency, strongest manager and most bipartisan member.”

Playing to the open government audience, Ferguson held up a redacted copy of Dunn’s schedule, saying it was a poor example of responding to an open records request.  Dunn responded that Ferguson had his share of disclosure issues over campaign donors.

The Association of Washington Business hosted debates for three other down-ballot statewide candidates. The AWB’s blog says the debate between challenger Bill Finkbeiner and incumbent Lt. Gov. Brad Owen “turned testy … when Finkbeiner made an issue of Owen’s use of surplus campaign funds to pay for alcohol and lunch for his staff. It drew an angry response from Owen, who said he bought alcohol to entertain officials guests at his home and he treated his staff to special meals as a reward.” 

TVW’s Capitol Record blog has a post on the AWB-sponsored secretary of state debate.

The News Tribune covered the AWB-sponsored debate between the state auditor candidates. 

TVW has the debates online if you want to watch: Attorney General, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor

Nuggets:

Music tames the savage beast, but can it win votes? Bill Finkbeiner, the GOP candidate for Lieutenant Governor, wants to find out. He posted a video on YouTube with the help of Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic.

Chris Hansen got good news this week when the Seattle Council announced it would support a revised arena deal. But that doesn’t mean opponents are happy. The Seattle Mariners and manufacturing and maritime interests sent a letter Wednesday outlining their concerns.

KING 5’s Chris Daniels, meanwhile, offers more details on how the new arena deal got done.

Jerry Cornfield at The Herald notes that the Washington Education Association isn’t spending big to defeat I , the charter schools initiative on this year’s ballot. The union spent $1.3 million to defeat a charter schools measure in 2004, but this year? Just $100,000. Cornfield gets at the “why” in his column.

Could three members of the Electoral College throw the election to Mitt Romney (and VP Joe Biden)? Mike Baker from the AP bureau in Olympia explains.  Short take: Blame a few Ron Paul fans.

Today’s schedule

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna releases his health care policy paper. The release says McKenna seeks “seek to reduce the costs of providing quality care while improving accessibility and patient choice.” He will hold a press conference at 2:45pm at a location near the University of Washington Medical Center.

Although it is not labelled as a campaign event, Commissioner of Public Lands (and candidate for Commissioner of Public Lands) Peter Goldmark is hosting a tribal summit with representatives of 29 federally recognized tribes in Washington State. The event will be held on the Olympic Peninsula on Suquamish Tribal lands form 9am to 4pm. Goldmark oversees the Department of Natural Resources which manages state owned lands. The tribes have treaty rights that extend to those lands.

In Seattle, Mayor Mike McGinn will hold a press conference to announce the opening of the new Belltown Community Center. The Belltown Community Center won’t actually open until Friday.

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Russ Walker is managing editor of king5.com.  Michael Cate is producer and Robert Mak is host of KING 5 News Up Front, airing Sundays at 9:30 am on KING-TV.

Seven months ago, our KING 5 poll showed Republican Rob McKenna with a 10-point advantage in the race for Washington state governor, and for most of the summer, the McKenna campaign Web site touted McKenna’s lead.
Today, with the election just seven weeks away, a new KING 5 poll shows Democrat Jay Inslee leading by five points, and the polling page on the McKenna site is gone.
What happened?
National tide:  There’s no doubt that the Presidential race can influence local campaigns, the only question is to what extent.  Our poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, finds Democrat Barack Obama with a 16-point lead over Republican Mitt Romney in Washington state.  The fact that the governor’s race is within 5 points suggests McKenna is bucking some of the national Democratic bounce.  But a Romney-Ryan ticket more appealing to Washington voters would certainly help McKenna’s case.
The soft sell:  Inslee overtook McKenna just before the August primary, spending a million dollars plus on 60-second TV commercials.  While McKenna’s commercials were more fast-paced and featured his family talking about policy, Inslee’s commercial was more biographical, introducing his wife, kids and grandkids.  Compared to our July poll, the percentage of Inslee’s supporters who described themselves as “enthusiastic” shot up from 58% to 77%.  When asked, which candidate is more likeable personally, 43% of likely voters say Inslee, 30% told SurveyUSA they felt McKenna was more likeable.
Inslee chips away:  This year’s election remains dominated by the economy.  In July, McKenna had a double-digit advantage when voters were asked who would do a better job managing the state budget.  In our latest poll, when we asked which candidate would be better at improving our state economy, it’s McKenna 44% vs. Inslee at 40%—within the margin of error.
Inslee maintains an advantage on social issues, with 48% saying he better reflects their positions, compared to 41% for McKenna.  The Democrat also scores better among voters on the environment (49% to 24%).
McKenna’s strengths:  McKenna has made education a big issue in his campaign and he’s keeping even with Inslee on this score, with voters split on which candidate would be stronger on education (39% to 38%).  McKenna, with his campaign slogan “A new Direction for Washington,” is definitely perceived as the candidate would bring more change to Olympia, with 46% in our poll seeing McKenna as a change-agent, vs. 34% who say Inslee.  But it’s unclear how much change voters really want.  When asked if the state of Washington is headed in the right direction or the wrong direction, voters were evenly split—44% saying the right direction, 44% saying the wrong direction.
In addition, McKenna maintains a strong lead among those voters identifying themselves as independents—49% to Inslee’s 38%.
Still a good match:  While the poll shows Inslee in the lead just outside the margin of error, make no mistake it’s still a close race.  Both these candidates have very comparable favorable ratings (roughly 40%).  McKenna leads in the more conservative counties of Eastern Washington, while polling in the low 40% range in Western Washington, which is just on the bubble of where a Republican has to be.  Any swing in the national picture could definitely have an effect as the governor’s campaign enters the home stretch.

Seven months ago, our KING 5 poll showed Republican Rob McKenna with a 10-point advantage in the race for Washington state governor, and for most of the summer, the McKenna campaign Web site touted McKenna’s lead.

Today, with the election just seven weeks away, a new KING 5 poll shows Democrat Jay Inslee leading by five points, and the polling page on the McKenna site is gone.

What happened?

National tide:  There’s no doubt that the Presidential race can influence local campaigns, the only question is to what extent.  Our poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, finds Democrat Barack Obama with a 16-point lead over Republican Mitt Romney in Washington state.  The fact that the governor’s race is within 5 points suggests McKenna is bucking some of the national Democratic bounce.  But a Romney-Ryan ticket more appealing to Washington voters would certainly help McKenna’s case.

The soft sell:  Inslee overtook McKenna just before the August primary, spending a million dollars plus on 60-second TV commercials.  While McKenna’s commercials were more fast-paced and featured his family talking about policy, Inslee’s commercial was more biographical, introducing his wife, kids and grandkids.  Compared to our July poll, the percentage of Inslee’s supporters who described themselves as “enthusiastic” shot up from 58% to 77%.  When asked, which candidate is more likeable personally, 43% of likely voters say Inslee, 30% told SurveyUSA they felt McKenna was more likeable.

Inslee chips away:  This year’s election remains dominated by the economy.  In July, McKenna had a double-digit advantage when voters were asked who would do a better job managing the state budget.  In our latest poll, when we asked which candidate would be better at improving our state economy, it’s McKenna 44% vs. Inslee at 40%—within the margin of error.

Inslee maintains an advantage on social issues, with 48% saying he better reflects their positions, compared to 41% for McKenna.  The Democrat also scores better among voters on the environment (49% to 24%).

McKenna’s strengths:  McKenna has made education a big issue in his campaign and he’s keeping even with Inslee on this score, with voters split on which candidate would be stronger on education (39% to 38%).  McKenna, with his campaign slogan “A new Direction for Washington,” is definitely perceived as the candidate would bring more change to Olympia, with 46% in our poll seeing McKenna as a change-agent, vs. 34% who say Inslee.  But it’s unclear how much change voters really want.  When asked if the state of Washington is headed in the right direction or the wrong direction, voters were evenly split—44% saying the right direction, 44% saying the wrong direction.

In addition, McKenna maintains a strong lead among those voters identifying themselves as independents—49% to Inslee’s 38%.

Still a good match:  While the poll shows Inslee in the lead just outside the margin of error, make no mistake it’s still a close race.  Both these candidates have very comparable favorable ratings (roughly 40%).  McKenna leads in the more conservative counties of Eastern Washington, while polling in the low 40% range in Western Washington, which is just on the bubble of where a Republican has to be.  Any swing in the national picture could definitely have an effect as the governor’s campaign enters the home stretch.

President Barack Obama continues to hold a big lead in Washington state over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, according to a new KING 5 News poll.Asked if the election were held today, 54 percent of respondents said they would support Obama, compared with 38 percent who said they would vote for Romney. Just 4 percent of respondents said they were undecided, while another 4 percent said they plan to vote for other candidates.The new survey shows that Obama has reclaimed some support in Washington state. A KING 5 poll conducted in May showed Obama leading Romney by 14 points, but a July poll showed that lead down to 9 points, with Obama leading 46 percent to 37 percent.Obama carried Washington state by 17 points in 2008Women voters are the strongest Obama backers in Washington, with 59 percent saying they support his reelection vs. 33 percent who support Romney. Among men, Obama has 50 percent support compared with 42 percent for Romney.Not surprising: Obama enjoys his biggest support in Metro Seattle (King, Pierce and Snohomish counties), where 59 percent of respondents said they would vote to reelect the president; just 34 percent said they would vote for Romney. In Eastern Washington — the state’s more conservative region — the two candidates are tied at 44 percent each.The poll, conducted for KING 5 by SurveyUSA, interviewed 700 Washington adults between Sept. 7 and 9. Of the total number of respondents, 524 were identified as “likely voters” in the November election. Most respondents were reached via land lines, but 29 percent responded to the questionnaire on a smartphone, tablet computer, laptop or other electronic device. The margin of error for the presidential question was plus or minus 4.4 percent.

President Barack Obama continues to hold a big lead in Washington state over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, according to a new KING 5 News poll.

Asked if the election were held today, 54 percent of respondents said they would support Obama, compared with 38 percent who said they would vote for Romney.

Just 4 percent of respondents said they were undecided, while another 4 percent said they plan to vote for other candidates.

The new survey shows that Obama has reclaimed some support in Washington state. A KING 5 poll conducted in May showed Obama leading Romney by 14 points, but a July poll showed that lead down to 9 points, with Obama leading 46 percent to 37 percent.

Obama carried Washington state by 17 points in 2008

Women voters are the strongest Obama backers in Washington, with 59 percent saying they support his reelection vs. 33 percent who support Romney. Among men, Obama has 50 percent support compared with 42 percent for Romney.

Not surprising: Obama enjoys his biggest support in Metro Seattle (King, Pierce and Snohomish counties), where 59 percent of respondents said they would vote to reelect the president; just 34 percent said they would vote for Romney. In Eastern Washington — the state’s more conservative region — the two candidates are tied at 44 percent each.

The poll, conducted for KING 5 by SurveyUSA, interviewed 700 Washington adults between Sept. 7 and 9. Of the total number of respondents, 524 were identified as “likely voters” in the November election. Most respondents were reached via land lines, but 29 percent responded to the questionnaire on a smartphone, tablet computer, laptop or other electronic device. The margin of error for the presidential question was plus or minus 4.4 percent.