Congressional races in Washington's 8th and 5th District are getting a lot of media attention, and rightfully so. Rep. Dave Reichert's retirement leaves his seat in the 8th open for a possible Democratic takeover, and Lisa Brown is giving incumbent Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers some trouble out in the 5th. But new polling from Washington's 3rd Congressional District shows Democratic challenger Carolyn Long beginning to close the gap in her race against Republican incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler.
Long's internal polling shows her five points behind Herrera Beutler in an uninformed poll of 500 likely general election voters conducted in mid June. The margin of error is 4.4 percent.
After voters read positive profiles of Long and Beutler, they tie 43 to 43 with 13 percent undecided.
Though internal polls are famously extremely biased and so tend to be useless indicators of a given race's status, Long's spokesman claims they used a positive profile pulled from an internal poll Herrera Beutler commissioned, which means they portrayed the Congresswoman the way her own campaign team has portrayed her.
Herrera Beutler's campaign hasn't responded to my call asking if they've done any polling in the district recently.
The poll memo also notes that "independent voters support Long by a 15-point margin, with Long leading Herrera Beutler 45% to 30%."
These results are strange to me. Though the district is the least partisan of the Republican-leaning districts in the state, the legislature recently redrew the district to be more conservative, and Trump won the 3rd by 8 points. The nonpartisan analysts at The Cook Report rate the seat "likely Republican," whereas the 5th merely leans Republican and the 8th is a toss-up.
Long's campaign spokesman couldn't explain Long's movement in the race. He said they haven't done any "real advertising or paid voter contact." They've only paid for a couple of sponsored Facebook posts. As of March 31, according to FEC filings, the campaign has only spent a couple thousand dollars on yard signs, literature, and buttons.
"There is campaign activity that we can attribute to some of this," he said, mentioning letters to the editor, frequent town halls, and a couple dozen volunteers knocking on doors every weekend. But otherwise he thinks it might be just "the mood."
It could also just be that Rep. Herrera Beutler supports terrible policies. She was the only member of Washington's Congressional delegation to vote for the draconian immigration bill that failed to pass the House last week, calling it "a forward step in improving our nation’s broken immigration system.” The bill would have allowed the government to detain children indefinitely while also funding some of Trump's border wall and reducing legal immigration. It's also worth noting that Herrera Beutler stood silent for weeks while the Trump administration tore apart families at the border and caged children, only deigning to release a weak ass comment last Tuesday when every other Republican congressperson released theirs.
She votes with Trump 90 percent of the time, backing the Farm Bill (which drastically cut food stamps and imposes work requirements on SNAP recipients), the rollback of Dodd-Frank, and the tax cuts on the wealthy at the expense of the poor.
Maybe people in the district are just realizing that she's bad? Whatever the case, it's worth keeping an eye on the race in WA-03.