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Sunday, August 13, 2006

More Polling in Davis, Smith Race

A Kitchens Group poll taken over August 9-11 shows Sen. Rod Smith pulling to within the margin of error against Congressman Jim Davis. Unlike the McLaughlin poll, which had the race within one point, this new poll gives Davis a 4 point edge. Assuming that Smith's television commercials have closed the gap, this still seems more likely than the idea that Smith has completely erased Davis' lead.

A joint poll by Schroth, Eldon & Associates and the Polling Co, commissioned by the St. Petersburg Times, gives Davis a 35% to 21%lead over Smith. This snapshot was taken a little earlier - August 6-9 - but better reflects what we've been seeing throughout this campaign.

What does this all mean? More and more polls are showing Smith pulling closer, but there are still doubts as to how close. Smith's campaign manager, Paul Neaville, is very strong at directing field campaigns and generating excitement in the base and has worked on governor's races across the southeastern United States. Certainly, he knows how to close a gap on the ground.

But there aren't many more shopping days left until Christmas. The primary is September 5th. Does Smith have enough momentum to pull ahead by then? Smith went on the air first, a gutsy and expensive move, and that gave him the potential for a quick bounce, but Davis will be matching him from now on. My suspicion is that the bounce from the ad wasn't enough for Smith. He has been in public appearances, but Davis comes in with a lot of advantages - including representing the Tampa Bay area. But one thing that ever poll and every analysis has said, is that this race could go either way. With the GOP primary seeming all but finished, Smith and Davis will both benefit from increased earned media as the press turns its focus the Democratic side. Let's see what they do with it.

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