Polls show Washington governor's race close

PORTLAND, Ore. - For Southwest Washington voters the Washington governors race is a dead heat, according to a new poll conducted exclusively for KATU News by Survey USA. Meanwhile, a recent statewide Survey USA poll also found the race is about even.

KATU's poll surveyed 771 registered voters over the weekend in five southwestern Washington counties to find out who they would vote for if the election were held now: Republican Rob McKenna, the state's current attorney general or Democrat Jay Inslee, the former congressman from Bainbridge Island?

About 46 percent of voters in Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Skamania, and Wahkiakum counties backed McKenna while about 43 percent favored Inslee - a difference of three percent, which was barely inside the poll's margin of error. About 11 percent of voters say they're undecided.

Compare that to a statewide poll conducted by Survey USA two weeks ago. It found Inslee leading McKenna 48 percent to 45 percent - also inside the poll's margin of error and with 7 percent of voters undecided.

That poll showed McKenna with a sizable advantage in western Washington and eastern Washington. But Inslee had overwhelming support in the Seattle-metro area that is home to more than half of likely voters in the state.

The KATU poll found southwestern Washington voters rank the economy and jobs as the top issues followed by health care, education, the Columbia River Crossing bridge, unemployment benefits, transportation, reproductive rights and, lastly, gay marriage.

Locally, most men favor McKenna while Inslee is strong among women. Among independents McKenna has a 15-point lead.

The poll and voters' priorities set the stage for next Wednesday's debate televised on KATU and hosted by anchor Brian Wood. It will be the first debate of the fall campaign. It will be broadcast from the WSU-Vancouver campus from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Your question could be part of the debate. You can leave a question below in the comment section of this story or post it on our Facebook page.