SEATTLE, Wash. — The gap appears to be narrowing in the race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Patty Murray and her Republican challenger, Tiffany Smiley, according to a new poll. The two are running for Washington's U.S. Senate seat.
The poll conducted by the Trafalgar Group from Oct. 25-28 shows Murray at 49.9% versus Smiley at 48.2% with a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.
The polling firm based in Atlanta surveyed 1,208 likely general election voters just after the candidates first debate more than a week ago at Gonzaga University.
At the end of September, a Strategies 360 and KOMO News poll showed Murray leading the race by 12%.
"There is a sense of tightening going on and I don't need to see a poll to see that, but you can kind of feel it," said Strategies 360 President and CEO Ron Dotzauer, on Monday with the Murray vs. Smiley race.
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Since the summer, the gap between the candidates has shrunk even further, that’s when Murray held an 18-percentage point lead.
"In some ways when you are an incumbent you can allow people sometimes to get back into the campaign, by not being as aggressive and strategic about how you are running your campaign and that may well be the case with Senator Murray’s campaign," said Dotzauer, a political analyst.
As for that aggressive tactic, Dotzauer pointed to Smiley seizing on crime and homelessness in her campaign ads.
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"Crime, homelessness and choice or abortion I think are the biggies, she [Smiley] has just taken on that crime issue head-on, and just hammered away," Dotzauer said.
In a recent one-one-interview with both candidates, Smiley told KOMO News, "Washington voters were worried about cost of living, grocery prices, gas, fentanyl crisis, educational crisis, and the homeless crisis that's how I shaped my issues going forward."
Dotzauer noted that Smiley has managed to more or less avoid the abortion right's topic.
"If anyone changes it, it will be the people of Washington state who vote on it and decides," Smiley told KOMO News during a recent interview.
Senator Murray told KOMO News recently that both child care and abortion rights are top priorities.
"I would like to reinstate Roe at federal level in law, that's my goal, that's my legislation, but we need a couple more votes to do that," Murray told KOMO News Anchor Molly Shen recently in a sit-down interview and said this is what she thinks it comes down to for voters. "Who is the best voice for my state, who understands what my family is going through and who will take those issues and those voices and those opinions back and fight for?"
Dotzauer said the Murray camp in the last week "has come in big" with political ads, but asked where was the Murray camp a month ago.
He thinks Smiley's anti-crime message is resonating with voters and it might just be the momentum to do what hasn't happened in two decades in our state - a Republican in the U.S. Senate seat.
Dotzauert said the narrowing gap comes down to who gets to the undecided voters. Right now, he estimates about 3% of voters in Washington state are undecided.
"It comes down to good ground game, get out the vote at the end of the day, that can be worth two points, two points, sometimes as much as three points if done well," said Dotzauer. "My question is do either one of them have a really aggressive strategically planned ground game, get out the vote, targeting the voters, that can make the difference in the outcome of a race."
KOMO News reached out to the Trafalgar Group for comment Monday, but they said they are not available until Friday.
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