There’s been some gloating from the other side recently about the latest SurveyUSA poll that shows incumbent Dave Reichert leading challenger Darcy Burner by a 51% to 45% margin. Yet these results are at odds with the Majority Watch poll conducted around the same time that shows Burner leading Reichert 49% to 47%.
Of course, both polls are within the margin of error so technically, it’s possible both could be right. But I’m leaning towards the Majority Watch figures, and not just because I want to believe them.
The key number that leaps out at me from the SurveyUSA crosstabs is the stunning fact that Burner holds a comfortable 8 point lead with the one quarter of respondents who have already voted. And this number is not an anomaly. Reliable sources now tell me that both candidates’ internal polls show Burner leading with early voters, though I have no idea by how much.
As one longtime observer of Eastside elections recently explained: “Show me a Democrat leading in early absentees, and I’ll show you a winner.” And he’s not the only one to view early ballots as a meaningful statistic. Despite a plethora of polls showing Republican John Kyl with a steady lead over Democrat Jim Pederson, the DSCC just bought gobs of airtime in Arizona after internal polling showed Pederson leading Kyl by 4% with early voters in that Senate race.
That said, there are other numbers which I find suspect. SurveyUSA shows Reichert leading with both women and independents, results at odds with both the Majority Watch survey, and… well… my intuition. I am particularly struck by Reichert’s purported 10 point lead with independents, a result that defies national trends showing independents breaking towards Democratic candidates by wide margins. Usually, independents tend to split fairly evenly between the two parties, but as Stuart Rothenberg points out today, this isn’t your usual election.
“There just aren’t any independents this year,” joked one Republican strategist I talked with recently. “There are Republicans, Democrats and soft Democrats.”
I dunno. Perhaps 8th CD independents really are different from their national counterparts. Perhaps Reichert’s reputation as “the Sheriff” — deserved or not — really does make him immune to the national Democratic wave. But… I don’t think so.