Monday, September 10, 2007

the Becker boomlet

After reading Jenni's thoughtful endorsement of Becker, I saw today that the Salt Lake Tribune has a new poll out that is terrific news for Utah House Min. Leader Ralph Becker (D-Avenues/Capitol Hill).

This poll tracks in my mind with previous polls that showed Keith Christensen sinking to around 11-8% while Ralph Becker was rising. At the time of the last poll, I speculated most of the loss was due to Keith's high profile exit from the Republican party in an attempt to highlight his moderate-ness and separate himself from the Republican label which is an anathema to SLC voters.

However maybe it is people moving from Keith to Ralph due to the later's concentrated advertising push to highlight his progressive/liberal track record/credentials. Or maybe it is the opposite-- that people are moving away from Keith due to his advertising push that I have criticized for being too vague (and filled with meaningless feel-good rhetoric [aka High-Boderism]). But my favorite part of this "article" (it is just a poll with a series of called-in responses to said poll) was the reactions by the various campaigns.
"Whew!" Becker's campaign manager, David Everitt, whistled today when told of the poll results. "I can tell you we're not unhappy with that."
"Really," Jeff Mathis [Jenny Wilson's campaign manager] said. "Interesting." "I never expected to lead in the polls," said Christensen, a former city councilman. "They tend to be about name ID. The only poll that matters is Election Day. Voters will make this call, not the polls."
Buhler, a sitting city councilman, also was measured.
"That's interesting," he said. "What this shows is that it's very important people get out and vote on Tuesday. I felt like it would be close."

The article called Mathis' reaction "subdued" I think he was more shocked and scared than nonplussed. Christensen is typical politician who is behind babble. It is the equivalent to a coach of a sports team saying "We just take one game at a time." And Buhler's "I felt like it would be close," is a back track from the happy talk when he was in a two-way race with Wilson. The fact is, assuming this poll is true, Wilson and Buhler are stagnant/slightly down, Christensen is sinking, and Becker is surging at just the right time. Let's look at the cross tabs.
Wilson, the front-runner in previous polls over the summer, had more than double the unfavorable percentage as Becker, according to the latest survey. Even so, that number for Wilson is small, at 15 percent. Becker's unfavorable is just 6 percent, while Buhler had the highest at 29 percent. Christensen's negative number was 21 percent.
Perhaps surprising, Becker also leads with likely women voters, albeit slightly. The poll also gave Becker small percentage-point edges among Democrats, independents and non-LDS voters.
Buhler leads among likely LDS voters, more than tripling the field in that column.
The only Republican among the major contenders in the officially nonpartisan race, Buhler also dominated the GOP slot. He registered 58 percent of the Republican vote, while Christensen (with 18 percent) had the next closest.
By contrast, the independent vote was close among the top three contenders. Becker leads with 29 percent followed by Wilson (26 percent) and Buhler (22 percent). Christensen snagged just 9 percent of the independent vote.
Very interesting, especially the support from women. It is like Clinton having a bigger share of the black vote than Obama.

With margins this close and turnout this low ("Historically, though, less than 20 percent of registered capital voters typically go to the polls in off-year mayoral primaries."), the ground game is going to make the difference between second place and being out of this race Tuesday night. And if this poll is backed up by a Dan Jones poll this weekend (which I assume is in the field as we speak for the Sunday Desert News), then the order of finish between the top three is utterly unpredictable.

If any of the campaigns were to listen to me, I would suggest that they forget about airing any more commercials, sending out more mailers, and certainly doing any more billboards. The key is calling likely voters, knocking on doors, and maybe honk and waves. May the best man or woman make it past the primary.

UPDATE: I was right about the polls, of course.


theorris said...

Despite City Weekly's rather boorish article declaiming that he was more boring the watching a sloth, I think folks are coming to see that Becker is an exciting candidate, and will make a great mayor.

Jennifer Killpack-Knutsen said...

Thanks for linking to my post. It was a tough choice, but now that I've made it I'm pretty happy with it.

I agree with you, though, I'd like to see the final race between two progressives. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out on Tuesday.