Poll Analysis: Inslee 38%, McKenna 34%

A new Grove Insight poll of the gubernatorial race between Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA-1) and Washington state AG Rob McKenna (R) shows Inslee with a +2% lead over McKenna. The poll surveyed 500 likely Washington voters (M.O.E. 4.4%) from the 26th to 28th of March.

Before doing my usual Monte Carlo analysis of the results, I want to point out that with this poll and the previous Grove Insight poll, I debated whether or not to analyze the results. One of my rules for polls is to, “ignore polls released by party organizations or candidates.” The issue is that campaigns and party organizations commission polls all the time, but we rarely get to see the polling results. When they are released, there is a strategic reason. Therefore, including such polls can lead to a biased overall interpretation, even if the polls themselves are completely honest and accurate.

Both of the Grove Insight polls are, apparently, commissioned by the SEIU. Even though SEIU isn’t part of the campaign or the Democratic party, SEIU has recently endorsed Inslee and they obviously share elements of their politics. I really don’t know if Grove Insight would have released these results if they had been bad for Inslee. It is a close call, but I opted to go with publishing an analysis.

Of the 500 respondents, there were only 360 who had a preference for either Inslee or McKenna, so the effective margin of error is actually bigger than the 4.4% given in the release. A Monte Carlo analysis that held a million simulated elections gave Inslee a win 762,761 times and McKenna a win 225,707 times.

The analysis suggests that, if the election was today, Inslee would have a 77.2% probability of beating McKenna. Note that by statistical conventions we would call this a tie because the winning percentage doesn’t exceed 95%. Here is the distribution of election outcomes resulting from the analysis:


This makes three consecutive polls that contradict the narrative that McKenna is the front-runner:


Although I want input from another poll or two, it is beginning to look like this race is flipping—gone from McKenna having a hefty lead, to a tie. If correct, it’s pretty remarkable is how fast things have turned around….

[The most recent analysis in this race can be found here.]


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    It’s hard to visualize a scenario under which a state like Washington would elect a governor like McKenna. We’re just not like that. Eastern Washington, sure, but not Washington as a whole.

  2. 3

    FricknFrack spews:

    Geez, I hope Inslee can hold. Look at all the hell a Trojan horse like Scott Walker has plopped on Wisconsin!

    I admit that some times in the past, I’ve voted for McKenna. But now that he’s been rearing his Republican head and going against the Healthcare Laws just to show his Conservative credentials, this dude scares the bejeesus out of me!

    McKenna ain’t no moderate, he’s just been ‘playing’ us until the time was right!!

  3. 5

    Justsayin spews:

    11. justsayn spews:

    Jay Inslee is a poor candidate and no one knows him on the eastside of the state.

    EVERYONE knows McKenna…..and he’s VERY sharp…and order of magnitude sharper than Jay; Jay will get trounced in debate by McKenna….
    McKenna will be the first GOP Gov in WA in three decades…..
    Deal with it…

  4. 6

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    @5, Wait … What? You’re saying McKenna is the best Republicans have had to offer in over 30 years? That’s your argument?

    How have you dealt with Democratic WA governors for over 30 years?

  5. 7

    Sure thing spews:

    I look forward to your analysis of the next poll released by the Master Builders’ Association.

  6. 8

    rhp6033 spews:

    In the meantime….

    The Everett Herald columnist and Petri Dish blogger Jerry Cornfield seems to be overly impressed with McKenna’s campaign management team.

    McKenna’s 15 Minute Plan to Balance the Budget

    Of course, the ability to hire good campaign managers doesn’t necessarily translate into being a good governor. McKenna’s biggest obsticles to winning the governor’s race this year are (a) his campaign against the Affordable Care Act supported by most residents of this state; and (b) the example provided by Scott Walker which proved that these days, there is no such thing as a moderate Republican.

  7. 9

    rhp6033 spews:

    If I were Inslee’s campaign manager, (cue to music from Fiddler on the Roof, “If I were a Rich Man….”

    I would make sure that EVERY DAY there was a campaign event where media photographers couldn’t help but take photos of a banner reading “We Don’t Need Another Scott Walker in Washington”. That would go a long ways toward holding up the Democratic base from Olypia up I-5 through Everett.

    Then Inslee could concentrate on earning votes away from McKenna in the “red” areas. I would think that health care reform would be a big issue among a surprising number of family farmers in Eastern Washington.

  8. 10

    ArtFart spews:

    @6 McKenna’s a piss-poor example compared with Washington’s recent Republican governors.

  9. 11

    ArtFart spews:

    When the Supremes (Heh…think of Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy lined up singing “Where Did Our Love Go?”…) hand down their decision striking down the entire health care law using the rationale that the suit was crafted so as to leave the Justices “no choice”, it’ll be interesting to hear McKenna trying to explain how every utterance he’s made in the last six months wasn’t a fucking lie.

  10. 12

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @11 There’s no faster way to get single-payer than by SCOTUS trashing ACA. Anti-health-care Republicans are screwed no matter what SCOTUS does!

  11. 13

    rhp6033 spews:

    Given the questioning of some of the justices during the debate on the Affordable Care Act, there is now some speculation that the whole thing might be a set-up for the Supreme Court to declare invalid just about every FDR-era reform, including Social Security and (later) Medicaid and Medicare. They might take the reasoning of the 1930’s era Schecter Poultry decision, which was later discarded by the court as limited to the specific cases of the National Recovery Act.

    If the justices do indicate that it would entertain a broad challenge to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, then there will be political consequences. I suspect that the House and Senate would become solidly Democratic, at least for the next decade or so.

    The question then, is what to do with the court? The President can’t wait for a right-wing justice to die or retire so he can be replaced, it’s just as likely that a Democratic-nominated justice die first. F.D.R. tried to stack the court on the theory that nothing in the Constitution limits the court’s number to nine, but that’s didn’t work too well for F.D.R. (although the court DID do a remarkable turn-around in what has since been known as the “switch in time which saved nine”.

    Another approach would be for the Congress to enact legislation which removes challenges to the constitutionality of legislation under the Commerce Clause from the jurisdiction of the court. Congress CAN do that – it expressly did it with respect to the Patriot Act. Except for the original jurisdiction cases enumerated in the Constitution, the Supreme Court only has jurisdiction over cases which are assigned to it by an Act of Congress.

  12. 14

    ArtFart spews:

    @13 Perhaps Congress CAN in theory do that, but whether even an overwhelming majority of Democrats would have the collective stomach to pass such a thing without the cover of a closed-session voice vote or the ability to hide behind the banner of “national security” is questionable at best.

    On the other hand, if we’re looking at an imminent risk of a meltdown into nationwide chaos between the combination of the widespread public reaction of the SC were to actually try to declare Social Security null and void (thinking all of us in the “boomer” generation are too lazy, too feeble or too senile to raise all kinds of hell) in combination with the consequences of the apparently inevitable war with Iran and all that would come with that, one could see the executive branch being inclined to take some pretty extreme measures on its own.

  13. 15

    ArtFart spews:

    I dunno about the rest of y’all, but if those five goons on the right side of the court decide that Uncle Sam has been illegally taking my money for the last 40 plus years, I’m gonna damn well want it all back. Immediately. With interest.

  14. 17


    How soon we forget how close the tool from the BIAW, Rossi, came to winning in 2004.

    It can’t happen here? Uhhhh.. WA is a different place than it was in 2004 certainly but different how?

  15. 18

    Zotz sez: Some inflammatory thing or other. spews:

    @rhp: SSI, Medicare, etc. are the least of our problems with this court.

    Consider: It’s not OK for gov to mandate insurance to make the health care market work — but it’s perfectly OK for police to strip search people for the most minor offenses (like an unpaid ticket which turned out to have been paid — he showed them the receipt!).

  16. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @13 Actually, Congress could remove SCOTUS’ authority to review the constitutionality of any legislation. After all, that authority isn’t in the Constitution; it was created by Justice Marshall out of thin air.

  17. 21

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    I don’t see McKenna winning in November – the state’s just too liberal for that to happen.