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Smith poll indicates a dead heat (Charleston, WV, Mayoral Race)
The Charleston Gazette ^ | 5/15/03 | Greg Stone

Posted on 05/14/2003 11:10:20 PM PDT by LdSentinal

Charleston’s mayoral race is a dead heat, according to a survey done by a well-known local pollster who has contributed to Democrat Chris Smith’s campaign.

According to the poll, Republican Danny Jones holds a 38 percent to 37 percent lead over Smith, with 25 percent undecided. It has a margin of error of 8 percent.

Don Richardson, a consultant, researcher and pollster since his work for Democratic Gov. Jay Rockefeller, conducted a random sampling for Smith of those who had voted at least twice in the past six city elections. That poll included 149 people, contacted between Thursday and Sunday of last week.

A poll released last week by Jones, done by Public Opinion Strategies of Northern Virginia, showed Jones with a nine percentage-point lead, with a margin of error of 5.7 percent. That survey used a 300-person sample, with 22 percent undecided.

Jones has taken shots at the credibility of the Richardson poll. But with both polls showing a large number of undecided voters, the last few days of the campaign are critical. The city’s general election is Tuesday.

Smith had a large lead at the beginning of the campaign, after his resounding win over incumbent Mayor Jay Goldman in the Democratic primary, largely through a $75,000 avalanche of television ads and $17,000 in mass mailings.

Smith took his time in getting into television, letting the primary victory fire cool somewhat. Records show Jones has outspent him approximately 3-to-1 in that department.

“It sends a tremendous message,” Jones’ campaign manager, Larry LaCorte, said of the closing of Smith’s lead. “It shows the momentum in this campaign, and I think people on Election Day are going to be surprised at the margin of victory.”

Smith could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

In a relatively heated exchange between Smith and Jones during an interview with Fox-11 anchorman Tom McGee on Tuesday night, McGee challenged Jones to present his poll numbers.

Smith charged on television that Jones’ poll could not be trusted because a Republican firm known for its activism did the survey. Jones said the same credibility issues exist with the Richardson poll.

“His poll was done by a health-care consultant, a Smith contributor and a Democratic activist,” Jones said of Richardson.

Richardson gave $600 at Smith’s sixth fund-raiser, Smith’s spending reports show. While Richardson volunteered his services, Smith paid for the work of people who actually did the calling, workers Richardson normally uses in his research.

Richardson said his poll ideally would have included more people but, the larger the sample, the more expensive the poll.

In the poll, 12 of the 25 people who voted for Goldman in the primary said they would vote for Jones in the general. Jones has said that claiming Goldman voters will be a key, and that Smith’s primary win was a result of anti-Goldman sentiment.

Of the 42 people who voted for Smith in the primary, 34 said they would vote for him in the general.

A similar poll Richardson did for Smith after the primary showed an 18 percent lead for the Democrat.

Smith’s volunteers say they have contacted more than 4,000 likely voters themselves since April, resulting in a 16-point lead for their candidate.

“I’m aware of that and had nothing to do with that,” Richardson said. “It was done by Carolyn Meadows, the one who gets all the volunteers plugged in ... I really can’t explain the difference in the figures.”

The gap closure can be easily explained, Richardson said.

“Danny had not had much exposure when we did the first poll,” Richardson said. “Since then, he has been heavy on television, in debates, that kind of thing.”

Besides the Public Opinion Strategies poll, Jones points to his own admittedly non-scientific survey done last week by Conquest Communications Group.

Of 1,743 identified undecided voters, 40 percent said they would vote for Jones, 28 percent for Smith and 25 percent undecided.

TOPICS: West Virginia; Campaign News; Issues; Parties; Polls; State and Local
KEYWORDS: 2003; charleston; election; mayoral; westvirginia
Fresh from the ongoing Governor Wise (D) scandal, Republicans could capitlize here.
1 posted on 05/14/2003 11:10:20 PM PDT by LdSentinal
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To: LdSentinal
From what I understand, I don't think the GOP has done too badly in mayoral elections in Charleston and Huntington, although both currently have 'Rat Mayors (who replaced Republicans).
2 posted on 05/15/2003 2:44:03 AM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (~Remember, it's not sporting to fire at RINO until charging~)
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