The first KING 5 Senate poll for the 2010 general election shows Republican Dino Rossi is actually ahead of Democratic incumbent Patty Murray, 52% to 45%.

In most polls leading up to this week s primary election and on primary night, Murray was in the lead. Primary election results placed Murray 13 points ahead of Rossi, but Rossi splitting the Republican vote with Clint Didier who got 12%, and Paul Akers, with 3%.

The new K5 poll of 618 likely voters, conducted by SurveyUSA, is the first look at a Murray-Rossi matchup in November. It suggests that even without an official endorsement from Didier, many o f Didier s supporters would choose Rossi over Murray. Akers has endorsed Rossi, but Didier is withholding his endorsement at this time.

The race may tighten, which is what we might expect, but I do think that we can say going in as this first poll shows, is that this is not a layup for re-election and that there s a real fight here, said Jay Leve, Editor of SurveyUSA.

Leve adds that poll numbers can change significantly from primary to general elections, because a lot more people will vote in November and it s a different group that votes in November, compared to August primaries.

On KING 5 News Up Front, former King County Republican Party Chair Reed Davis said he would expect Rossi to pick up votes.

I ve said from the beginning, this is so volatile, your next poll might show Murray ahead, Davis said.

A Rasmussen Poll released yesterday, actually had Murray up by four points. But KING 5 s poll shows Rossi ahead among independents. It also finds a significant gender gap. Murray is ahead 12 points with women, but among men, she falls behind Rossi by about 27 points.

Some Democrats still find it hard to believe that so many votes have come to Rossi since the primary.

We had the best sample poll on Tuesday night when we had almost a million votes cast, said Strategies 360 CEO Ron Dotzauer, who ran Democrat Maria Cantwell s first senate campaign. I don t believe he (Rossi) has moved from 33 to 52 in three days.

Leve says the poll is best viewed as a snapshot in time, with voters polled immediately after the primary election.

There are people all over the country right now who are just in such agony really about the status quo, so unhappy about how things are going in the country, that they are looking for alternatives. And anybody who appears to represent what is as opposed to what might be, is at the short end of that stick, Leve said.

Bottom line: The first KING 5 Senate poll confirms the Murray-Rossi race is going to be tight.

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