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Poll: Bruce Harrell ahead in Seattle mayoral race, many voters undecided

New poll results from the Northwest Progressive Institute were released for four Seattle August Primary election races. 

Perhaps the most striking result from the poll so far is how many surveyed voters haven’t made up their minds on who they’ll vote for.  Three of the four races polled for saw more than 50% of voters undecided with less than three weeks until the Aug. 3 election

Even still, in the two at-large City Council races for Pos. 8 and Pos. 9, poll respondents picked clear favorites while the mayoral race and the city attorney election were much closer.

But first, a bit on the technical points. The Northwest Progressive Institute’s Top Two election survey was an online poll which ran from July 12 through July 15, and included 617 respondents. It was conducted by Change Research and has a margin of error of 4.3% at the 95% confidence interval. 

This marks the first time that the Northwest Progressive Institute has stepped into local political polling, and they’re planning on conducting a general election poll later this year.

In the mayoral race, former Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell topped the list, receiving 20% in the poll. Harrell was favored by older voters, and has a clear lead heading into the primary election. 

Current Seattle City Council member Lorena González came in second, polling at 12% and performing better with younger voters. She was followed closely by Colleen Echohawk, former executive director of the Chief Seattle Club, who garnered 10% of respondents. 

Jessyn Farrell and Andrew Grant Houston both pulled in 6% support. The rest of the candidates didn’t crack 5%, and will likely be eliminated in the primary. 

Only 32% of those polled said they weren’t sure who they were voting for, which in this primary election poll is actually the low-water mark in the poll. On top of this, King County Elections has stated that it only expects a 40% turnout, out of the more than 1.4 million ballots it has sent to registered voters countywide. 

However, turnout in Seattle will likely be higher than the county average, the Northwest Progressive Institute states.

Andrew Villenueve, founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, said he wasn’t sure why there are such high numbers of undecided voters. He said it could be that voters are still preoccupied with the COVID-19 pandemic and haven’t had a chance to figure out who they’ll support.

The city attorney election is a three-way race, with incumbent Pete Holmes barely ahead of Nicole Thomas-Kennedy and Ann Davidson. Holmes captured 16% of voters, while Thomas-Kennedy and Davidson each netted 14%. Some 53% of voters are still undecided. 

Holmes easily won in the last two bids, crushing challenger Scott Lindsay nearly 75-25% in the 2017 general election, and ran unopposed in 2013. 

Even though he’s ahead overall, there’s reason for Holmes to be worried, the Northwest Progressive Institute writes:

“Among the undecided voters who made a selection in the follow-up question, Davison was the top choice, followed by Thomas-Kennedy and then Holmes, with barely any distance between the candidates. This is another indication that Holmes’ re-election campaign could be in trouble.”

Thomas-Kennedy is running on a platform of decriminalizing poverty, community self-determination, green infrastructure, law for the people, and ending sweeps. Her website states that prosecution of petty offenses stemming from poverty, addiction, and disability are ineffective, destabilizing, and costly. 

Davidson led an unsuccessful bid for Lt. Governor last year on a Republican ticket. She’s focusing on improving efficiencies within zoning, transforming the Mental Health Court to a specialized Behavioral Health Court and taking a “proactive, not reactive” approach to crime, the Northwest Progressive Institute states. 

For Holmes’ part, his campaign says he will propose passing stronger gun laws, reducing excessive force by the Seattle Police Department, vacating marijuana charges and keeping people in their homes after the pandemic. 

Villenueve had this to say about the results: 

“A very close, contested race for Seattle city attorney, probably one of the most interesting findings in the poll because we didn’t really expect Holmes and his challengers to be neck-and-neck.”

Voters seemed more confident in their choices for both of the at-large City Council positions. In the Pos. 8 race, incumbent Teresa Mosqueda held a commanding lead at 26%, well ahead of second place Kate Martin, who garnered only 6%. The remaining 10 candidates didn’t rise past 5%. 

While 55% of voters polled were undecided, the Northwest Progressive Institute wrote they expect most of those voters to swing for Teresa Mosqueda in the primary. 

In the City Council Pos. 9 race, community organizer and 2017 mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver held a strong lead, with 26% of polled voters supporting Oliver’s bid. Sara Nelson, co-founder of Fremont Brewing, came in second with 11%. She was followed by Brianna Thomas with 6%. 

Some 50% of polled voters were undecided, but Oliver’s lead suggests their work to build a people-powered campaign has been highly effective, the Northwest Progressive Institute wrote. 

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