Last month I ridiculed Republicans for touting the latest partisan robo-polls as evidence that Sen. Maria Cantwell was in trouble. But now that a recent Elway Poll shows Cantwell maintaining a sizable 47 percent to 33 percent lead over her opponent Mike McGavick, I take it all back. You should always trust the latest poll. It’s never wrong.
Still, it’s probably somewhat instructive tracking the Elway numbers over time, which seem to show Cantwell’s lead gradually but steadily shrinking from a 55-25 percent advantage in February to 47-25 in April to 47-33 in June. No question, the gap has been closing, and no incumbent likes to be under 50 percent.
Look a little closer at the numbers and what you see is probably what you expect to see at this point in the race:
|Feb 2006||Jun 2006|
What I see is Cantwell showing some weakness with her weakest supporters while both candidates have started to firm up their base. Yes, McGavick’s “definite” support has grown faster than Cantwell’s, but then starting from a meager 11 percent he had a helluva lot more upside.
And of course, let’s put this all in context. McGavick has been running a paid media campaign — unanswered — for the past six months, while Cantwell has been strategically sitting on a $6 million plus war chest. Yet at a combined preference of only 33 percent of voters McGavick has barely reached Will Baker numbers… the absolute floor guaranteed nearly anybody with an “R” next to their name in Washington state.
I’m not saying there aren’t some positives for McGavick in the latest Elway Poll; no doubt he’s gained some ground, and no doubt the race will tighten further. But assuming this poll at this stage of the race is meaningful at all, I just don’t see him gaining much traction.