A new KING 5 poll shows the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee gaining momentum just before the August primary.
In a poll of 524 likely voters across Washington state, 48 percent said they would vote for Inslee, while 45 percent told SurveyUSA they would vote for Republican Rob McKenna, with 7 percent undecided. The poll, conducted on both landlines and cell phones, has a margin of +/- 4.4 percent.
Back in February, our early polls found McKenna with a 10-point lead over Inslee. Since May, the KING 5 poll has found the race to be within the margin of error. This is the first poll that included not just registered voters, but likely voters in the November election.
Leading up to the August primary, Inslee has spent about $1 million dollars on TV commercials, introducing himself to voters. As a former Congressman, Inslee has not run statewide since his unsuccessful run for governor in the 1990s.
When asked to characterize their support of a candidate, 72 percent of Inslee backers said they were "enthusiastic" vs. 25 percent who said they had reservations. Just a month ago, only 58 percent of Inslee supporters rated themselves as "enthusiastic." McKenna's enthusiastic support remains virtually unchanged at 70 percent.
Mckenna continues to do well in Eastern Washington, getting about 50 percent of the vote east of the Cascades. However, in the Puget Sound area, McKenna is just below 40 percent. The presidential election at the top of the ballot is not helpful for McKenna, with our new KING 5 poll showing President Obama widening his lead over Mitt Romney to 17 points at this particular point in time.
This latest KING5/SurveyUSA poll included likely voters for November, and is not predictive of the August primary, which will have a different set of voters and many other candidates running for governor. Both campaigns are trying to downplay the significance of the August primary, lowering expectations should they lose among primary voters.