Every time PPP has polled the Washington Senate race this year it's found the race to be within 2 or 3 points and our final poll there is no exception. But there is one twist- for the first time we find Dino Rossi leading Patty Murray, by a 50-48 margin.
Neither candidate has much in the way of support across party lines- Rossi's winning 93% of Republicans and Murray's winning 91% of Democrats. That means independents, as they are in so many races across the country, are making the difference for the GOP here. Rossi leads Murray with them by a 54-42 margin.
The most worrisome number for Murray within the poll, beyond her small overall disadvantage, is that among voters who say they've already returned their ballots Rossi's advantage is wider at 52-47. Murray's ability to keep the race close is predicated on the 24% of respondents who have not yet done so returning their ballots. That group supports her by a 51-45 margin.
Washington has one of the more severe enthusiasm gaps in the country. Barack Obama won the state by 17 points in 2008 but those planning to vote this year supported him by only a 7 point margin. If Democrats in the state vote at a higher rate than response to our poll suggested over the weekend that would likely be enough to put Murray over the top.
Murray's approval rating has fallen to 44%, with 51% of voters disapproving of her. Rossi's not real popular either with 45% of voters seeing him favorably to 46% with an unfavorable opinion. Like many races across the country this year the Washington Senate contest is shaping up for voters as a choice between two candidates they're not particularly enamored with and for the most part the GOP is winning out in situations where that's the case.
With this race as close as it is it may be days before we firmly know who the winner is- it's going to be a tight one.
Full results here