Rob McKenna Picks Up Steam in Governor's Race Against Jay Inslee--He's Up by Nine Points in a New Poll

There's still a lot of time -- nearly nine months in fact -- but state Attorney General Rob McKenna is sitting pretty at the moment. The latest Elway poll has him up by nine points over Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee -- and there are two key reasons why . . .

First, independent voters are backing him by a two-to-one margin, and second, 13 percent of the Democrats polled in the survey of 405 voters statewide plan to desert their party for McKenna, who is finishing his second term as AG.

For months now, McKenna has maintained a lead over Inslee, but it's been a relatively thin one, usually three or four points. The new poll shows McKenna with a 45-36 percent lead.

As Joel Connelly reports today in Seattle, "The expanded lead has come during a 'down' time for the McKenna campaign. As state Attorney General, he has been prohibited from raising campaign money while the Legislature is in session -- a prohibition that has been in effect since early December."

Still, the Elway survey has to concern the Inslee camp. The eight-term congressman trails in favorable ratings and has not yet succeeded in solidiyfing his base.

Notes Connelly:

The state Democratic Party and allied groups (e.g. Washington Conservation Voters) have spent months seeking to link McKenna to a gallery of Democratic devil figures -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, ex-Bush guru Karl Rove, and the far-right billionaire Koch brothers.

The drumbeat of demonizing press releases and fundraising appeals has lately taken after McKenna for opposing same-sex marriage. (He supports Washington's existing domestic-partner legislation.)

Despite all this, McKenna has a 42-14 percent positive-over-negative rating among those surveyed by Elway. By contrasts, Inslee's "positives" total 28 percent, while 22 percent have a negative opinion of the Democratic hopeful.

But as pollster Stuart Elway observes, "There are many miles to go before we vote."

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