I know…I shouldn’t pick on the pathetic. But I will anyway.
Two weeks ago, after an Elway poll came out with mixed news for Sen. Maria Cantwell, I did a preliminary assessment of Cantwell’s vulnerability to a Republican challenger. I didn’t find the minor weaknesses uncovered by the Elway poll overly concerning. The poll didn’t do head-to-head match-ups for a general election, but it did find 46% would vote to keep Cantwell in office, and 36% would vote to replace her—a result almost identical that at this point in the 2006 election cycle.
My non-concern also reflected evidence from a much richer series of data from Survey USA’s regular tracking polls. They show Cantwell’s recent approval bouncing erratically from about 40% to 55%, with the most recent one at 49%.
Now Public Policy Polling has released a new poll that sheds more light on Cantwell’s lack of vulnerability. The poll finds her with 50% approval and 36 disapproval:
Cantwell is pretty universally well liked within her own party, at 80/7 with Democrats. She’s also on narrowly positive ground with independents at 44/40 and has a 17% approval rating with Republicans, which is a decent amount of crossover support (we generally found Patty Murray with a single digit approval with GOP voters over the course of last year’s campaign.)
The Republican who comes closest to Cantwell is an old favorite- Dino Rossi, who trails 53-40. Susan Hutchison and Dave Reichert do next best, both trailing by a 49-35 margin. Clint Didier trails 51-35 and Cathy McMorris Rodgers has the largest deficit at 50-31. Cantwell wins independent voters by 5-12 points in all of the match ups and picks up 8-9% of the Republican vote while only losing 2-5% of the Democratic vote.
Wow…a 17% approval with Republicans!
The head-to-head match-ups suggest that none of the Republican challengers can do any better against Cantwell than Mike McGavick’s dismal 39.9% result in 2006.
The bottom line:
Cantwell’s reasonably popular and the GOP doesn’t have anyone good to run against her.
This pretty much validates my statement from two weeks ago, “given the absence of a strong opponent on the horizon, I am simply unwilling to fret over a single Elway Poll….”
This new poll illuminates the state of the state Republicans: their candidate pool is nothing short of pathetic. There are almost no Republicans with any statewide appeal. Attorney General McKenna is about it, and he’s looking for opportunities elsewhere.