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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Elway Poll Shows Washington Governor’s Race Within 9 Points

According to the latest non-partisan Elway Poll released Wednesday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee leads his top Republican challenger by nine points. Pollster Stuart Elway said a nine point race at this early stage seems like a tight race.

“For an incumbent governor versus a candidate that nobody knows,” he said.

That other candidate, Bill Bryant, is a Port of Seattle commissioner. The poll shows Inslee with 39 percent of voters’ support to Bryant’s 30 percent with nearly a third undecided. The poll has a 4.5 percent margin of error.

“Thirty-nine percent is not where an incumbent wants to be, so there is some vulnerability there,” Elway said.

But Elway added that Inslee still has a “structural advantage” going into 2016. Washington hasn’t elected a Republican governor since 1980 and there are “many more” Democrats in Washington than Republicans. And Inslee is out-raising Bryant by a better than four-to-one margin.

Democrats said a nine-point lead is a strong position for re-election. The Bryant campaign said the poll is evidence Inslee is vulnerable.

The new Elway Poll also shows Inslee’s positive job performance rating has slipped below 40 percent. However, a Morning Consult poll last month showed Inslee with a 55 percent approval rating.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."