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Second poll has SecState race tied

In general, an incumbent polling at less than 50 percent is considered to be in significant danger of getting unelected. So what to make of the second poll in less than a month that puts Secretary of State Steve Hobbs not just below 50 percent, but under 40 percent?

The latest number was in a Strategies 360 poll for KOMO TV. Hobbs, a Democrat who is only sort of an incumbent and Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who is running as a nonpartisan, each got at least a lukewarm nod from 38 percent of likely voters, with nearly a quarter of voters on the fence.

The poll also found both candidates have abysmal name recognition. A separate Elway Poll poll taken about a month earlier found the race roughly tied at 30 percent apiece with 40 percent undecided. 

The race is generally kind of an oddball. Hobbs is a moderate from Snohomish County with no particular appeal to progressives in Seattle or elsewhere. He finished fourth in the 2016 primary for lieutenant governor. But he has the support of the Washington State Democratic Party, and some $150,000 in party money, along with a long list of Democratic endorsements, including U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and Attorney General Bob Ferguson. 

Anderson has picked up some high-profile GOP endorsements, including former Gov. Dan Evans, former Attorney General Rob McKenna, former Secretary of State Sam Reed, and current Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier. 

That prompted the Democratic Chair Tina Podlodowski to attempt to brand her as a closet Republican opposed to making it easier for people to vote. By happenstance, Melissa Santos over at Axios Seattle did a nice job debunking that this week. 

Anderson has actually picked up a fair number of Democratic endorsements, mostly from Pierce County 

Neither candidate looks likely to have enough money to mount a significant statewide campaign to solve that name-recognition problem. Hobbs has Anderson more than doubled up, with $640K raised to less than $300K for Anderson. But even $640K is more like a competitive campaign for a state Senate seat, or 1/49th of the state. 

So this race is shaping up as a voter-pamphlet contest that will pit Hobbs’s incumbency and Democratic affiliation vs. Anderson’s base of power in Pierce County and her experience as an election administrator, which is the most high-profile of the Secretary of State’s duties. 

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