By Rachel La Corte
OLYMPIA — Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee hold strong leads in Washington state, though neither is above 50 percent, according to a new poll released Monday.
The latest survey by independent pollster Stuart Elway shows Clinton with a double digit lead over Republican Donald Trump in Washington, 43 percent to 24 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson received 7 percent and Green Party Candidate Jill Stein got 4 percent. Sixteen percent of Washington voters said they were undecided and six percent said they may not vote for president at all.
Washington state hasn’t voted for a Republican candidate for president since 1984.
In the state’s gubernatorial race, the numbers for the race between Inslee, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Bill Bryant remained exactly the same since an Elway poll in April, with Inslee still leading 48 percent to 36 percent. In the state’s primary earlier this month, Inslee garnered 49 percent of the vote, compared to Bryant’s 38 percent.
Elway wrote that party identification and Inslee’s incumbency both play in his favor.
“Elections are almost always largely a referendum on the incumbent,” Elway wrote. “Even though this year’s electorate has been cast as highly dissatisfied with the status quo, there has not been a strong constituency to turn Inslee out.”
Elway noted that while Inslee’s job performance ratings have been low with voters his entire term, they have improved since the start of this year.
He also cited Trump as a new factor in the race. The poll showed that in down-ballot state races, 50 percent of voters surveyed said they would vote against a candidate if they endorsed Trump, compared to 17 percent who said such an endorsement would lead to their support of a down-ballot candidate. On the other hand, 38 percent of those surveyed said they would vote against a Republican candidate who didn’t endorse Trump.
“Staying away from Trump appears to be the smart move,” Elway wrote.
Bryant has pointedly refused to weigh in on the presidential race, saying it’s not relevant to Washington. Trump is set to visit the Pacific Northwest later this month, with stops in Washington state and Oregon.
For voters who identified as being undecided in the governor’s race, 38 percent said they would vote against a candidate who endorsed Trump, and that 21 percent would vote against a Republican who did not endorse Trump, “illustrating the tightrope Bryant must walk,” Elway wrote.
To a lesser extent, endorsement of Clinton also affects state candidates, the poll showed. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed said they would vote against a candidate who endorsed her, while 26 percent said such an endorsement would make them more likely to vote for the state candidate.
The Elway survey of 500 registered voters was conducted by phone Aug. 9-13. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.