New polling shows strong gains for Harrell and Davison, puts Mosqueda on notice

Oct 19, 2021, 1:52 PM
Election, ballot, polling...
A Seattle voter dropping off their ballot. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

It is looking increasingly likely we could end up with a mixed outcome in Seattle’s general election next month, and Andrew Villeneuve with the Northwest Progressive Institute says don’t rule out a few fireworks as things wind down.

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Bruce Harrell has strengthened his lead in the race for Seattle mayor in the second round of polling from NPI.

“Bruce Harrell has increased his advantage,” Villeneuve said.

“Our polling shows that with a 16 point lead he’s well positioned to become the next mayor,” he added, pointing to the results of NPI’s latest poll of 617 likely Seattle voters conducted between Oct. 12-15.

Of the respondents in the latest poll, 48% say they are supporting Bruce Harrell, and 32% say they’re supporting Lorena Gonzalez, 18% are not sure, and 2% said they would not vote. That marks a significant difference from the eight point lead Harrell took out of the primary.

That’s not to say there is no pathway to victory for Gonzalez.

“Lorena Gonzalez still has a path to victory. It’s just a more difficult path,” Villeneuve said. “We are seeing basically that voters of color, older voters, a lot of different groups are committing to Harrell’s candidacy, there’s more enthusiasm for his campaign than the Lorena Gonzalez’s campaign. But it’s not over for Gonzalez and she and her allies will undoubtedly make a big push in the final two weeks to get her elected.”

Gonzalez made up a lot of ground late in the August primary with late ballots, as is often seen among the city’s more progressive candidates.

“So we’ll see if she does better in the late ballots as she did in August. But even if she does, it may not be enough to overcome Harrell’s s advantage,” Villeneuve explained.

The race for Seattle City Attorney has also seen a significant shift with Republican Ann Davison showing much stronger numbers against opponent and self-described abolitionist Nicole Thomas-Kennedy.

Davison has an even bigger lead than Harrell does for mayor, a 19 point lead. Villeneuve says 43% of NPI’s respondents say they’re voting for Davison, and 24% say they’re voting Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, with 30% still undecided.

“So it’s a very, very significant lead for Davison,” he said, pointing out that recent headlines surrounding anti-police tweets Thomas-Kennedy had sent during last year’s protests seemed to have cost her politically, especially after two former Democratic Governors came out and publicly backed her Republican challenger over the tweets and other issues with Thomas-Kennedy’s platform.

“It appears that Nicole Thomas-Kennedy’s tweets have closed the door for many voters to considering her candidacy and open the door for Davison,” Villeneuve said. “Also we’ve seen former governors, like Gary Locke and Chris Gregoire, come out for Davison, as well as many retired judges and justices. And that could be what is causing voters to decide that Davison is the candidate who should get their vote.”

While NPI can’t say for certain that’s the cause for the shift in polling, they can say that Davison did not previously have this level of support, and the timelines seem to coincide.

“Davison didn’t have this kind of support in the last two independent polls in the race. So this suggests that voters have moved in Davison’s direction since September,” Villeneuve said. “And that is a significant development in this race.”

Seattle election preview: Mayoral, city attorney candidates make their case

It also appears Teresa Mosqueda’s pathway to re-election for the City Council Position 8 seat may be a bit bumpier than many thought.

“You might think Teresa Mosqueda is simply on track for reelection. But our poll finds that she only has 39%, which is fairly low for an incumbent. She’s the only incumbent on the general election ballot actually, and 31% support Kenneth Wilson. So it’s actually a closer spread than either city attorney or mayor,” Villeneuve said.

He added that the numbers indicate Mosqueda’s strong showing in the primary could have been due to support that was “soft,” meaning people only chose her because they did not see a better candidate in the crowded ticket, but now they seem to have found Kenneth Wilson.

“With only two choices left, Kenneth Wilson is the only other person whose name is on the ballot next to Teresa Mosqueda. So a lot of voters are intrigued, I think, by his candidacy,” Villeneuve said, pointing out there is a lot of interest in his ideas on transportation.

“He’s not a typical candidate. He’s a bridge engineer who is offering some unusual ideas for how to get traffic moving in Seattle,” he said. “He’s talking about reopening the West Seattle Bridge early. Those are things that people are interested in, and I think that people are just taking a look at his candidacy.”

Whatever it is, with an eight point gap between the incumbent and the unknown challenger, it is clear Mosqueda can’t just coast to re-election, though she is still favored to win.

But the best chance for fireworks comes down to the Position 9 City Council seat being vacated by Lorena Gonzalez, where Sara Nelson and Nikkita Oliver are facing off.

“Sara Nelson currently has a four point lead over Nikkita Oliver that’s within the model margin of error. So 41% for Sarah Nelson, 37% for Nikkita Oliver, 21% not sure, 2% would not vote. So this is very interesting,” Villeneuve said. “Nikkita Oliver, of course, won the top two election in the late ballots, came from behind, despite not having the most support on election night was able to overtake Sara Nelson and end up first place in the top two election.”

“The same thing could easily happen again,” he added. “Because as we see, Nikkita Oliver’s not very far back. So that’s the deficit that can easily be overcome. Unlike in the other two races, we were talking about where there’s a tough hill for Lorena Gonzalez and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy to climb, Nikkita Oliver could easily win this election and defeat Sara Nelson.”

Follow Hanna Scott on Twitter or email her here

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New polling shows strong gains for Harrell and Davison, puts Mosqueda on notice