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KING 5 News Poll: Inslee, Eyman are top Washington gubernatorial candidates

An exclusive KING 5 News poll found Gov. Jay Inslee’s approval rating is 41%, and 34% of polled voters aren’t sure who they would vote for governor.

Gov. Jay Inslee is heading into the 2020 election with a less-than-ideal approval rating, but the lack of a viable Republican challenger could play well in Inslee’s favor, according to two political analysts’ take on an exclusive KING 5 News poll.

The poll found 41% of Washington registered voters surveyed approve of the job Jay Inslee is doing as governor, and 39% disapprove. Another 20% aren’t sure.

“Governor Inslee has a lot of work to do,” said KING 5 News Political Analyst Ron Sims, who has served in the Obama Administration and is a former King County executive.

KING 5 News Political Analyst Scott McClellan, who served as a press secretary under President George W. Bush, said an incumbent governor would want to see approval ratings in the 50% to 60% range. While McClellan said it was “a little surprising” Inslee’s approval rating was lower, he expected Inslee to be in “great shape” for a re-election bid.

“There doesn’t seem to be any viable Republican candidate running for office,” McClellan said.

The poll also reflected that. If the November election were to happen today, the poll found Inslee would earn 39% of the vote, and no Republican would earn more than 5%. Republic Police Chief Loren Culp, who opposed Initiative 1639 on gun control, would be the only Republican to garner 5% of the vote.

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Initiative promoter Tim Eyman, who’s running as an Independent, would be the second-place candidate, receiving 11% of the vote.

“I think these numbers would indicate there is no hope, and no miracles are going to be available,” Sims said. “He is going to lose, and he is going to lose badly.”

Eyman tended to resonate with conservative voters, about one-third of whom held a positive view of him compared to 35% of liberal voters who held a negative view. Across the board, nearly one-quarter of voters weren’t sure how they felt about Eyman and another 32% were neutral.

However, Sims and McClellan cautioned that could all change over the next nine months as more than one-third of voters polled were undecided. The Republicans are even more uncertain – 44% said they weren’t sure who they would vote for.

SurveyUSA conducted the poll between Jan. 26 and Jan. 31, surveying 1,103 registered voters across Washington state. Of those voters, 41% were Democrats, 26% were Republicans, and 27% were Independents. Nearly half were from the Seattle metro area, a quarter were from eastern Washington, and a little more than a quarter were from western Washington, reflecting statewide population and demographics.

About our KING 5 News political analystsRon Sims is a former King County executive and served in the Obama Administration. Scott McClellan was a White House press secretary under President George W. Bush.