Polls show Senate race tightening

New polls show the race for U.S. Senate between Democrat Patty Murray and Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley tightening to within a few percentage points.

Some observers now call it a toss-up, but not everyone agrees it’s actually that close.

In the August primary, Murray finished 18 points ahead of Smiley.

The politics site FiveThirtyEight monitors multiple polls and factors in their quality.

It shows the race has narrowed to a six-point Murray lead, and national news stories suggest Murray is in trouble.

“I think we’re seeing volatility and I think we’re seeing some tightening, and that’s not unusual coming down close to the wire,” said Democratic strategist Crystal Fincher.

“I think we’re at 50-50, which is very surprising to me. I had no expectation of feeling that way even two weeks ago,” said Republican strategist Alex Hays.

Recent polls showing the race within a couple of points come from right-leaning polling firms.

“It’s not that close. The race is currently nine to 12 points, give or take,” said Andrew Villeneuve of the Northwest Progressive Institute. The institute commissioned a poll last month that showed Murray up 10 points.

He questions the methodology of the most recent polls, and says they’re timed to motivate Republicans to feel they’re on the cusp of victory.

“That is the strategy, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s all a psychological game,” said Villeneuve.