KING-5 TV just released the first head-to-head poll in WA’s 8th Congressional District race between Republican incumbent Rep. Dave Reichert and Democratic challenger Darcy Burner… and I’m guessing both sides are going to claim they’re thrilled with the results.
According to the poll of 609 registered voters conducted by SurveyUSA, Reichert leads Burner 54% to 41% with only 6% undecided.
So if Reichert is leading by an apparently comfortable 13 point margin, why did one longtime Democratic politico ecstatically email me that these numbers are “freakin’ fantastic”…?
I’m guessing the biggest reason for Democrats to get excited is that Burner’s 41 percent is damn impressive considering she entered this race with zero name recognition, and has only just begun to make her first tentative forays into paid media. The poll was conducted 8/22 – 8/23, only a week after Burner made her first, small TV buy; her first direct mail piece is only just now reaching voters.
Much of Reichert’s lead can surely be attributed to a huge advantage in name ID — which must register a stratospheric ninety-something percent for the former sheriff and self-proclaimed Green River Killer catcher. It is also an advantage that is surely exaggerated by the fact that the poll did not screen for “likely voters”; this screen won’t come until after the primary.
Burner supporters can also be buoyed by the crosstabs, which show only 35% support for President Bush, significantly lower than SurveyUSA’s national average. Those who approve of President Bush’s job performance choose Reichert by an overwelming 93% to 4% margin. Those who disapprove choose Burner 66% to 27%.
The task for Burner seems clear. She needs to improve her name ID while persuading voters to identify Reichert with President Bush’s failed policies. Given the time and the resources, both can be achieved, and fortunately for Burner she has plenty of both.
Of course this is only a single poll, and not necessarily one of the most reliable. As I’ve previously pointed out, many respectable news agencies like CNN and the Associated Press won’t even report on robo-polls like SurveyUSA’s. (Let’s face it, nobody really believes that only 6 percent of voters are undecided at this point in the race. Many undecided voters simply hang up on robo-polls.) The fact is, KING-5 contracts with SurveyUSA because it’s cheap.
That said, one thing seems pretty obvious: considering the dynamics of the race and the unique political climate this year, 41 percent in August absolutely puts Burner within striking distance for November. Reichert supporters can take solace in the 13 point margin if they want, but I’m guessing their internal numbers aren’t nearly as comforting, and I guarantee the race will narrow as voters learn more about the candidates.
We’re off to the races.