Reversing a several month downward trend, public approval of Washington’s statewide Dems have recovered somewhat in the latest SurveyUSA monthly tracking polls, with even Gov. Chris Gregoire pulling up a few points from her all-time dismal low of 31% in March.
This holds true for Sen. Patty Murray, who improves to a 46% approval rating, up from her own all-time low of 42% last month. As recently as its January poll, SurveyUSA had Murray at a comfortable 55% approval, pretty much smack dab in the middle of her narrow five-year average.
Much of the speculation over a potential challenge from Dino Rossi stemmed from Republican polls that showed him beating Murray in a head-to-head race, but those appear to have been taken at what now looks like the bottom of a broad, Democratic public opinion trough. Even Republican-leaning Rasmussen now shows Murray once again holding a small hypothetical lead.
The question for Rossi, if he really is seriously considering a run, is what is the blip? Does Murray’s April uptick represent statistical noise, or is the anomaly really the broader, several month decline in Democratic approval that culminated around the time of the health care reform vote?
I’m no polling expert, but a look at the crosstabs suggests the latter, for much of the decline in Murray’s ratings can be attributed to a collapse in support amongst self-identified Democrats and liberals after health care reform appeared to hit an iceberg. A good chunk of these respondents came back to Murray in April, and we can expect that trend to continue as the election grows nearer and voters are faced with an actual choice.
And perhaps that may explain why Rossi appears to be waiting until June to make a decision — so he has more time to figure out whether a trend is really a trend?