First the bad news for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, who’s up for reelection next year: A new Elway poll finds her “Job Performance” rating at 52 percent “negative” to 42 percent “positive.” (It was nearly the exact opposite in 2005, also a year out from reelection, when her numbers were 52 positive vs. 38 negative.)
The good news?
The GOP doesn’t have any promising challengers. In Elway’s imaginary open primary against a batch of Republicans including: U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert; former KIRO TV anchor Susan Hutchison; Tea Party activist Clint Didier; and Port Commissioner Bill Bryant—Cantwell wins big with 47 percent of the vote.
And that pretty much guarantees Cantwell a spot on the November ballot.
You may recall that Cantwell beat Mike McGavick 56.9% to 39.9% in 2006. Clearly, she can do a lot worse in 2012 and still come out on top. And as flawed as McGavick was, it is not clear that the Republicans have anyone better in the wings. Let’s explore some other polling results for Cantwell in order to better frame the Elway poll.
Survey USA has collected a series of polls from May 2005 until the last poll taken from 16-18 April 2011:
On May 10 of 2005, the first poll on the graph, Cantwell had an approval of 45% and a disapproval of 35%. The most recent poll has her at 49% approval to 40% disapproval. The spread is about the same, but her approval and disapproval are higher in the recent poll because there are fewer undecided folks now.
Clearly, after that May 2005 poll, Cantwell’s approval increased dramatically and stayed relatively high until the Summer of 2009. Since then Cantwell’s approval has been more volatile. Six of the last 20 polls since then show her with higher disapproval, but with an overall trend of a higher approval. And given the absence of a strong opponent on the horizon, I am simply unwilling to fret over a single Elway Poll….