A photo shows a man with greying black hair and mustache on the left side of the screen and a woman with shoulder length black hair and a red shirt beneath jacket on the right side of the stage.
Mayoral candidates M. Lorena González and Bruce Harrell debate. (Credit: Seattle Channel)

A poll completed by Change Research for the Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI) indicates plenty of reasons why supporters of progressive candidates in Seattle’s general election should be worried as election day approaches. Previously tight races have seemingly swung in favor of more conservative candidates if the poll is accurate, with some distinct trends related to age and gender emerging. Change Research estimates its poll has a modeled margin of error of 4.1% at the 95% confidence interval.

Harrell takes the lead in mayoral race

According to the poll, Seattle City Council President M. Lorena González is trailing former City Council President Bruce Harrell by 16% in the upcoming mayoral election. Harrell received strong support from older voters, as well as voters who identified as people of color.

A graphic reads polling finding: Bruce Harrell has a sixteen point lead over Lorena Gonzalez as of 10/15.
(Credit: Northwest Progressive Institute)

Age emerged as the strongest determining factor in the poll results for the mayoral race with 66% of voters ages 65 and older saying they are voting for Harrell compared to 20% for González. However, younger voters did demonstrate a strong preference for González, with 49% of voters ages 18 to 34 supporting González and 30% supporting Harrell.

A strong margin of voters of color (56%) say they are voting for Harrell, while just 30% say they are voting for González. Twelve percent of voters of color say they are unsure who they will vote for. While respondents are asked to identify their race in the poll, because of the small sample population size, Change Research is unable to share data that gives a racial breakdown of results among people of color groups. They do, however, engage in targeted recruitment of poll respondents to ensure that the poll’s demographics are representative of the voting pubic in the study area.

In terms of gender, Harrell polled strongly with respondents who identify as male. Fifty-seven percent of male identified voters say they are voting for Harrell in comparison to 29% voting for González and the 12% who say they are unsure. Female identified respondents were much more likely to be unsure (25%), but Harrell did hold a lead in this group as well at 41% in comparison to 32% voting for González. While Change Research does allow people to identify as non-binary in the poll, not enough respondents identified as non-binary to produce accurate poll results.

While early polling indicated a tight race, Harrell appears to be solidifying his lead, causing concern for González supporters. NPI and Change Research ran a primary poll in July that found Harrell up eight points, but he ended up winning the race by just two points, which suggests González has a tendency to outperform her polling. Whether that’s enough to overcome the 16-point gap found in the more recent poll remains to be seen.

Davison pulls ahead of Thomas-Kennedy for city attorney

The strongest lead predicted by the poll was in the race for city attorney with former Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor Ann Davison leading former public defender and abolitionist Nicole Thomas-Kennedy by a margin of 21%.

(Credit: Northwest Progressive Institute)

While 30% of respondents say they are unsure who they are voting for, Davison leads Thomas-Kennedy by more than a two-to-one margin (44% for Davison, 21% for Thomas-Kennedy, 34% not sure) among voters of color. Additionally, voters in three out of four age brackets say they are voting for Davison. Thomas-Kennedy held a slight edge among voters ages 18 to 34 (36%); however, 32% of the group say they are unsure who they are voting for.

Similar to the mayoral race, more male identified respondents preferred the conservative candidate, with 50% saying they are voting for Davison in comparison to 37% of female identified voters. Thirty-eight percent of female identified voters say they are unsure who they are voting for, a slightly higher number than the 36% who say they are voting for Thomas Kennedy.

In District 8, a surprisingly tight race between Mosqueda and Wilson

While incumbent city councilmember Teresa Mosqueda fared well in the primary, the city council seat race has tightened substantially now that she is down to a single challenger, engineer Ken Wilson. NPI’s poll showed 39% of respondents voting for Mosqueda compared to 31% voting for Wilson. A striking 26% of voters say they are unsure who they are voting for. While Mosqueda remains in the lead, pollsters expressed that Mosqueda’s campaign cannot be complacent during the run up to election day. Wilson holds a slight lead over Mosqueda among male identified voters, with 2% more saying they are voting for Wilson.

Nelson holds a slim lead over Oliver in District 9 race

NPI identified the city council seat race between Fremont Brewery owner and former legislative aide Sarah Nelson and attorney and nonprofit executive director Nikita Oliver as the closest of the races in the general election. Currently Nelson leads with 41% of voters saying they are voting for Nelson compared to 37% voting for Oliver. However, 21% of voters remain undecided, and late ballot returns saw Oliver overtake Nelson in the primary race. It’s possible that a similar pattern will emerge in the days following the election. In any case, of all the 2021 Seattle elections, NPI’s poll results suggest this race could be a nail biter on election night and during the days that follow.

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Natalie Bicknell Argerious (she/her) is a reporter and podcast host at The Urbanist. She previously served as managing editor. A passionate urban explorer since childhood, she loves learning how to make cities more inclusive, vibrant, and environmentally resilient. You can often find her wandering around Seattle's Central District and Capitol Hill with her dogs and cat. Email her at natalie [at] theurbanist [dot] org.