Polling’s Rolling to Rossi in the Washington Senate Race

It’s the Friday before Election Day 2010 and polling updates in the Washington U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democrat Patty Murray and Republican challenger Dino Rossi continue to stream in.

The KING-TV/SurveyUSA poll released Friday morning has the race absolutely deadlocked, 47 percent breaking equally to Murray and Rossi, with six percent of respondents undecided.

SurveyUSA polled 678 likely and actual voters between Oct. 24th and 27th and reports a margin of error of ±3.8 percent. They also asked respondents whether or not they had already voted in the largely mail-in election. Of votes already cast, Rossi holds a two-point advantage; Murray has an identical edge among those who guaranteed they will be casting a vote between now and Tuesday evening. Although SurveyUSA interprets this as a wash, the break between those who already voted versus those who promise to do it by Election Day is 54 to 46.

If Rossi truly has a two point spread among the larger bloc of voters who have already cast ballots, and Murray is just waiting for her two points to come in on the smaller batch of maybe votes, I don’t read the poll the same way SurveyUSA does. My guess is that Murray’s campaign won’t put much stock on it either, and will be working hard to get out the vote in every way they can right up until (and possibly beyond) November 2nd.

The SurveyUSA results follow yesterday’s Rasmussen release that showed Rossi leading by a single point, 47-46. Rasmussen found that only two percent of voters remained undecided compared with three percent in the previous poll, a shift that must be worrisome for Murray. Historical trends typically give the advantage among undecideds in tight races to the challenger, and Murray’s 16 years in the Senate certain locks her out of posing as an outsider on her way to the finish line.

Another interesting observation from SurveyUSA’s crosstabs is how tremendous shifts toward Rossi within key demographics. Although Murray’s highwater mark among women in SurveyUSA’s polling during this election cycle was a 17-point advantage, that margin has shrunk to only six percent despite an emphasis in negative ads paid for by Murray and independent groups to portray Rossi as a threat on “women’s issues.”

The Real Clear Politics average of four polls gives Murray a slim 0.5 percent edge, but that calculation includes a pair of two-week-old polls from McClatchy and a Democrat-leaning polls done by Public Policy Polling.

Handicapped, this race is going down to the wire just as promised. It’s just how we do things in this part of the country.