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What are Jay Inslee’s reelection chances in 2020?

Gov. Jay Inslee. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

With Gov. Jay Inslee up for reelection this November, what are his chances of winning of a third term?

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Inslee’s slimmest margin of victory occurred when he was first elected governor in 2012, edging out former state Attorney General Rob McKenna 51% to 48%. He handily won reelection in 2016 over challenger Bill Bryant by a 54% to 45% margin.

According to recent data Five Thirty-Eight gleaned from polling firm SurveyUSA, 2020 could see him top even 2016’s lofty numbers, leading the top four Republican candidates by over 20 points each.

Matched up against anti-tax activist Tim Eyman, Inslee currently holds a 60% to 31% lead in SurveyUSA’s polling. The gaps between him and former Bothell Mayor Joshua Freed (57% to 30%), state Sen. Phil Fortunato (56% to 34%), and Republic Police Chief Loren Culp (56% to 31%) are similarly wide.

This appears to be backed up in a recent poll from KING5, which has Inslee taking roughly 50% of votes in the August primary election. That would make for a benchmark he failed to reach in both the 2012 and 2016 primaries.

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The six total Republicans opposing Inslee comprise 26% of the primary vote in KING5’s poll, led by Eyman at 8%, and followed by Fortunato (6%), Freed (6%), and Culp (4%). Tri-City ER doctor Raul Garcia and businessman Anton Sakharov round out the Republicans at 2% and 1%, respectively.

“It’s an uphill battle for any Republican candidate to win statewide,” Scott McClellan, a political analyst and former press secretary under President George W. Bush, told KING5. “I would not run against Gov. Inslee, and if somebody came to me and said, I’ll pay you a million dollars, you know, I’d say you’re wasting a million dollars.”

While being an incumbent certainly helps, Inslee’s also receiving top marks for his handling of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. In a recent poll from Survey Monkey, the Washington governor’s approval rating for how he’s managed the pandemic sat at 67%.

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