US Midterms: Murray, Smiley Debate for Wash. Senate

Photo: Yakima Herald-Republic

The Facts

  • Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and her Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley debated abortion, crime, and inflation on Sunday in their only planned debate before the midterm election.

  • In the debate, Smiley characterized Murray as an establishment politician out of touch with the needs of the people of Washington. Murray framed the race by saying “women’s rights are on the ballot. Our democracy is on the ballot and our economy is on the ballot.”

The Spin

Democratic narrative

Smiley's campaign is using the tired Republican tactic of inflating the threat of crime and blowing "urban decay" out of proportion. Though Smiley isn't a pro-life extremist, the more Republicans in the Senate, the more likely it is that access to abortion will be restricted. Ultimately, Smiley's campaign tactics are to lump all of Washington's Democrats in with Seattle's more progressive elements, which is pure Republican theatrics.

Republican narrative

Though Murray may claim that she cares about Washington families, her track record says otherwise. Despite overwhelming data showing school lockdowns during the pandemic deeply harmed kids more than COVID ever could, Murray said she still supports keeping kids home from school. Additionally, Murray is hyper-focused on abortion — which is neither on the ballot nor under threat in Washington. Still, she acts like it’s the only issue voters care about, dismissing voters’ concerns regarding crime and inflation.

Narrative C

This will be a close race, as there is a variety of moving parts that could determine its outcome. On the one hand, Smiley is a political outsider who has skillfully maneuvered herself to align with the broad conservative momentum resulting from Trump's victory in 2016. However, the overturning of Roe v. Wade could be her downfall, as Washington is one of the more pro-choice states in the union. This race will likely be hard to call.

Nerd narrative

There's a 46% chance that the Republican party will control both the House and the Senate after the 2022 midterm elections, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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