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Let’s Look at That Other Poll

The most recent poll done by Research and Polling of New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District came out in this morning’s Albuquerque Journal (subscription), and oddly enough Mr. Sanderoff, president of Research and Polling, reported finding no change in numbers after Patricia Madrid’s abysmal debate performance:

Many believe Wilson turned in a much better performance than Madrid during a recent live, televised debate. But Sanderoff said the 1st District race is not about whether voters personally like or dislike Madrid or Wilson.

“Let’s face it, it was a lopsided debate performance,” Sanderoff said. “The fact there was no shift in polling numbers afterward demonstrates how entrenched the voters are.

Wait a minute. Mr. Sanderoff is now saying, “It was a lopsided debate performance.” Somehow that seems incongruent with what he was quoted as saying in a Journal article (subscription) the day after the debate:

Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff, a longtime New Mexico political watcher, said Wilson appeared to be more “at ease and poised” than Madrid. He said he thought Wilson’s “no one buys access in my office” line was the strongest of the debate.

But he said neither candidate landed a knockout blow.

Of course, just about everyone now acknowledges that there was not one, but two knockout blows delivered during the debate.

It’s also worth mentioning that I was at one lunch and one breakfast the week before last where Mr. Sanderoff was the featured speaker. I enjoyed the presentations, and he seems like a very nice guy. He asked that everyone not hold it against him that he used to be a Democratic pollster. Now, he is still a registered Democratic – something I don’t think he mentioned at the lunch or breakfast – but in no way does that affect his polling.

Ok, let’s say we give him that benefit of the doubt. It may not have affected his polling, but it sure does seem to have affected his post-debate analysis. And if it so obviously affected his post-debate analysis, couldn’t it also be clouding his judgment when interpreting the significance of his polls?

I’m just asking.

You see, I’ve become aware of another poll out there. This one done by the polling powerhouse, Public Opinion Strategies . Yes, they are a well-respected Republican polling firm – translation: they’re experts that don’t do work for Democrats. Most importantly, they have been conducting polls in the 1st Congressional District since at least 1998.

According to a memorandum dated today, here’s what they found:

The Bottom Line
Congresswoman Heather Wilson not only has a two point lead heading into Election Day, but has the momentum and a superior turnout operation that will help her win on Tuesday.

Key Findings

1. Heather Wilson has the momentum and now leads Patricia Madrid by two points.

Congresswoman Heather Wilson leads Patricia Madrid 48%-46% with 5% undecided. Among those who have voted early, Wilson leads 50%-45%.

Madrid’s poor performance in the debate has helped shift the momentum in the Congresswoman’s favor. In our October 22nd-24th survey, Wilson was trailing Madrid 45%-48%.

Furthermore, Madrid’s poor performance in the debate helped shift voters opinion of her. Madrid now has a net negative image, with just 43% favorable/51% unfavorable, while Wilson’s image is 51% favorable/46% unfavorable. It is almost unheard of for a challenger to have unfavorables above 50% and makes it very difficult for Madrid to win.

This survey was conducted October 31 – November 2, 2006 among 450 likely voters in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District. The survey has a margin of error of ±4.62% in 95 out of 100 cases.

What’s most significant about this poll is that Heather Wilson leads her opponent by more than the margin of error among those who have voted early. The Republican GOTV effort has always been superior to the Democratic effort, and this poll confirms that this year is no different.

This is going to be one close race, and I believe that when the dust settles there won’t be more than a 1,000 votes separating Congresswoman Heather Wilson and Patricia Madrid. But, I also believe the tide has changed and Heather Wilson will return to Congress as our representative.