You’re likely going to be seeing and hearing a lot more from Bill Bryant over the next few months. That’s because polling conducted by the Republican gubernatorial candidate shows that although a majority of Washingtonians disapprove of Jay Inslee as governor, even fewer people know what Bryant stands for.
“If the election were tomorrow, he’s probably about six or seven points ahead of me, but that’s largely because of name identification,” Bryant told KTTH’s Todd Herman. “A lot of the undecided (voters) don’t know me well enough to say they’re voting for Bryant, but they know the governor well enough to not be comfortable voting for him. So as our name identification goes up, so do the votes coming from the undecideds”.
Bryant said the poll showed that less than 40 percent of voters believe Inslee deserves to be re-elected. Bryant understands that some people will be skeptical about the results because it comes from his camp, but that he didn’t fudge the numbers.
“Frankly, this is a poll in which we are going to be deciding how I spend my time over the next few months, and so we wanted the real story,” he said. “We didn’t want to rig this in any way to give us a happy answer. We wanted to know what was really going on.
“Regardless of who (Inslee) is running against, only 30-some percent think he deserves re-election,” Bryant added. “For any governor to be under 50 percent in May before the election is a governor who is very vulnerable. And Jay Inslee, according to this data, is incredibly vulnerable.”
Inslee, who is seeking his second term as governor, had a nine-point lead over Bryant in a 2015 poll, according to ballotpedia.org. Last May, Inslee had a 41-percent approval rating and 42-percent disapproval rating. Washington hasn’t voted a Republican into the governor’s office since 1980, though Inslee defeated Republican challenger Rob McKenna in 2012 by less than 100,000 votes.
In April, a poll showed Inslee with more statewide support than Bryant in the gubernatorial race. The survey of 503 registered voters taken during April 14-17 and released Tuesday by independent pollster Stuart Elway found 48 percent preferred Inslee while 36 percent supported Bryant. Another 16 percent were undecided. The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.
In January, a similar poll said Inslee led by nine percentage points while 31 percent were undecided.
Most of Bryant’s campaigning thus far has been focused on communities outside of King/Snohomish/Pierce counties, Bryant said, but the plan is to pivot to the larger counties during the stretch run. He also plans to push heavily on social media.
Bryant is pitching a platform that revolves around treating the people of Washington state as customers, which focuses heavily on reducing traffic congestion, which he says has not been the focus of Inslee’s administration.
“We have a department of transportation that is not focused on eliminating traffic jams and increasing the mobility of freight,” he said. “And in a Bryant administration, those are going to be the top two priorities.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.