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KING 5 News poll: Inslee’s approval rating steady at 48% despite losing Democratic support

A KING 5 News poll shows 77% of Democratic Washington voters approve of the job Jay Inslee is doing as governor, which is four percentage points lower than May.

SEATTLE — Fewer than half of Washington voters approve of the job Gov. Jay Inslee is doing, according to an exclusive KING 5 News poll.

The results of the poll, which was conducted between Oct. 25 and 28, show 48% of registered voters surveyed approve of Inslee’s job performance, and 42% disapprove. Another 10% aren’t sure.

Although Gov. Jay Inslee’s job approval rating held steady since a poll in May, it has fallen since a July 2020 poll where 60% of voters said they approved of his job performance.

When asked about the results, in an email Inslee spokesperson Tara Lee said, "For nearly two years, the governor has focused on the pandemic – protecting health and saving lives in Washington state. Notably in the midst of all this, the 2021 legislative session was one of the most productive in recent memory with a number of the governor’s priorities becoming law."

"The governor has made difficult decisions in the best interest of as many people as possible," Lee added. "He will continue to make tough choices, even if people don’t always agree."

RELATED: Inslee could appoint Democrat to replace Washington Secretary of State

Interestingly, Inslee’s approval rating fell four percentage points among Democrats since May, dropping from 81% to 77%. Over the same time period, Inslee’s disapproval rating increased eight percentage points among the same group.

The results also indicate Republicans appear to be more pleased with Inslee now than in May. Inslee’s approval rating increased five percentage points among GOP voters.

The change comes after several big policy changes related to COVID-19, including re-instating a universal mask mandate and instituting a vaccine mandate for state workers and educators in August to combat a surge in delta variant cases. However, Inslee has not brought back restrictions on business occupancy, which were re-instated several times last year.

Caleb Heimlich, chair of the Washington State Republican Party, said Inslee should be concerned about his approval rating being below 50%.

"I think in a blue state like Washington, that's not very good," said Heimlich.

Heimlich said Inslee's vaccine mandate and the impact of the more than 1,800 state employees who lost their jobs will cause the governor's approval rating to drop.

"There's going to be, I think, greater implications in the coming months from Gov. Inslee's vaccine mandate policy, which is the most aggressive in the entire country," said Heimlich.

When asked about the state's COVID-19 response, Washington adults gave it a 2.4 GPA on average, according to the poll. Nearly one-third gave Washington a "B," and nearly one-quarter gave Washington a "C."

Heimlich said the numbers suggest Republicans may have an advantage in the 2022 elections.

But Tina Podlodowski, chair of Washington State Democratic Party, said she was not worried or surprised by the poll results.

"I think people are frustrated, said Podlodowski. "They're frustrated that everything is not back to a pre-pandemic normal."

She described a decline in support from Democrats as "a blip," saying the vaccine mandate has been "broadly popular."

"People want to be safe," said Podlodowski.

On a national stage, President Joe Biden’s approval rating has fallen over the last few months with 47% of Washington voters reporting they approve of the job he is doing. About 44% disapprove, and 8% are not sure. In May, Biden’s approval rating was 58%, according to the poll.

A portion of that could be attributed to changing attitudes among Democrats, which resulted in an 18-percentage-point drop among those voters.

The poll, which was conducted by SurveyUSA, surveyed 650 adults from Oct. 25-28, 2021. Of those adults, 542 were registered voters. The poll represented the demographics of Washington state with 47% from the metro Seattle area, 29% from western Washington and 24% from eastern Washington.

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