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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Patty Murray has 5-percentage-point lead over Tiffany Smiley in KHQ-TV, Triton poll released Friday

Patty Murray, left, and Tiffany Smiley during a debate on the campus of Gonzaga University in Spokane on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022.   (Jesse Tinsley )

Sen. Patty Murray had a 5-percentage-point lead over challenger Tiffany Smiley in a recent poll of likely Washington voters funded by KHQ-TV, a gap that is within the poll’s margin of error.

The poll, conducted Wednesday and Thursday with 506 respondents by Oregon-based polling firm Triton Polling & Research, found 50.6% of respondents favored Murray, the Democrat, to 45.4% who support Smiley, the Republican. The results fell within the poll’s +/- 4.4% margin of error, and 3.9% of respondents said they were undecided.

Friday’s results mirror those seen in recent weeks in the contest, which has drawn millions in advertising spending as Republicans believe the seat Murray has occupied since 1992 may be vulnerable. Multiple polls released this month have given Murray, the third-ranking member of the U.S. Senate, between a 3-percentage-point and a 14-percentage-point lead.

Triton holds a C/D grade from the polling evaluation firm FiveThirtyEight, which has analyzed polls the firm conducted in the West Virginia elections in 2020. Triton typically performs internal polling for candidates and political parties, said Dan Meine, a pollster at the firm said Friday.

Triton used what’s known as an interactive voice response poll, which uses automated messages to survey a voter on the phone. Meine said the firm used a list of primary phone numbers provided by voters, which could have included landlines or cellphones. He didn’t have a breakdown of the number of either method on Friday, but said the results were weighted to reflect voter demographics.

“We get very, very good results with it,” Meine said of the poll method.

In addition, the poll asked voters what their top issues were in the voting decision for the Senate. A plurality, 22.4%, said inflation was their biggest issue, with abortion being the second most important, at 18.4%.

Ballots have been mailed for the Nov. 8 general election. The Spokane County elections office reported Friday that 16.8% of mailed ballots in the county had already been returned. Statewide turnout stood at 11% on Thursday, according to the Washington Secretary of State’s Office.