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Poll shows Republican Smiley in striking distance of longtime Sen. Patty Murray

Smiley campaign calls poll “encouraging” but says it is focused on everyday voters.

Published: September 12, 2022 9:34pm

Updated: September 12, 2022 9:58pm

(The Center Square) -

A recent poll by Atlanta, Georgia-based the Trafalgar Group shows Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley trailing incumbent U.S. Senator Patty Murray, D-Washington, by less than three points.

According to the poll of 1,087 likely general election voters taken between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1, 49.2% said they would vote for Murray, while 46.3% said they would vote for Smiley. Those who were undecided made up 4.5%.

“The campaign has obviously seen the Trafalgar poll, and while its results are encouraging, our focus remains the endorsement of Washington voters,” Elisa Carlson, communications director for the Smiley campaign, told The Center Square via email.

The campaign hopes it’s a sign of things to come.

The Center Square pointed out the Trafalgar poll results were not in line with other polling that showed Murray with a more substantial lead over Smiley.

For example, a previous poll of 400 likely voters conducted between July 7 and July 11 by Crosscut/Elway had Murray ahead by 20 points, which was similar to two previous KING-TV/SurveyUSA polls.

“As to your comment about the Trafalgar being an outlier compared to other polls, those polls were conducted before our campaign had begun spending money so I would expect the results to be different,” Carlson explained. “Trafalgar’s results show that our message is connecting with voters, and I think you will only see the numbers tighten.”

She then used the opportunity to go after Murray.

“This is particularly true when you have Sen. Murray going on CNN saying she wouldn’t change anything about the Democrat’s COVID response which kept children out of schools for nearly two years and directly contributed to the sharp drop in test scores we are seeing today,” Carlson said. “Or her refusal to call out the Seattle Teachers Union who went on strike the day before classes started.”

The Center Square asked about the possibility of any debates between Smiley and Murray.

“As to the debates, no, to our knowledge Senator Murray has still not accepted any of the debate dates,” Carlson said.

The Center Square reached out to the Murray campaign but didn’t receive a response.

At least one political observer is not impressed with the results of the Trafalgar poll.

Andrew Villeneuve, founder and executive director of the Redmond-based Northwest Progressive Institute, noted in a Sept. 2 blog that “in in the initial round of Washington’s two-part election, Murray received 52.22% of the vote against Smiley and sixteen other challengers. Smiley, meanwhile, received 33.69% of the vote.”

Murray and Smiley both advanced from the Aug. 2 primary to the general election on Nov. 8.

Villeneuve went on to say, “The second and final round will most likely consist of an electorate that is larger, more diverse, and more Democratic, yet Trafalgar would have us believe that Murray is now crumbling while Smiley is suddenly soaring. There is no evidence whatsoever to support this conclusion. Trafalgar’s survey is a classic outlier.”

First elected to the Senate in 1992 as a self-proclaimed “mom in tennis shoes,” Murray is seeking her sixth term in the U.S. Senate.

Smiley, a former triage nurse, is a mother of three who has highlighted her advocacy for her husband, Scotty, a military veteran who was blinded in an explosion while serving in Iraq in 2005.

The Senate is currently split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, but Democrats control the chamber thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ constitutional role – and tie-breaking vote – as president of the Senate.

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