The polling continues to circle the San Diego mayoral race, with Survey USA returning with new numbers last week. By contrast to the recent local polling that insisted on voters picking a candidate, the 10News/SUSA poll allowed for an ‘Undecided’ option, which proved to be quite popular, underlining the limitations of September’s B&B poll. First, the results:
As I discussed last month, one of the drawbacks to a poll that doesn’t include an Undecided option or even a strength of support measure is that it’s impossible to parse how much of a candidate’s support is hard and how much is largely based on name ID or a casual engagement in the race. Comparing these two polls, we see the result.
It also underscores the consequences of the choice B&B made. B&B went to great pains to preemptively assure the public that their poll was not biased towards DeMaio even though a leading B&B principal is a prominent DeMaio supporter. But putting these two polls next to each other shows that the odd (though explained) way in which B&B constructed its poll had the effect of dramatically exaggerating DeMaio’s functional standing at this stage of the campaign. It could legitimately all just be a confluence of chance, but this is why it’s so important to consider the construction of polls, not just the numbers.
In the new SUSA, DeMaio is 14 points lower than where B&B pegged him. Filner and Dumanis each drop 3 points, while ‘Other’ and ‘Undecided’ combine for a full quarter of the likely voter pool. The message here is straightforward: Each candidate has found their base, and a large, ideologically diverse pool of voters remain to be persuaded. Indeed, crosstabs show that Undecided voters are spread evenly between party and ideological self-identification.
At first blush, that spread seems more likely to help Filner. Given the spread of candidates in the field, the 15% of currently undecided liberals are more likely to migrate to Filner with little competition from other candidates. By contrast, the 17% of undecided conservatives could legitimately end up with any of DeMaio, Fletcher, or Dumanis depending on how the twists of the campaign progress.
Filner is still demonstrating the same weakness with Democrats that he showed in the B&B poll, with Dumanis banking 19% of Democrats and even DeMaio grabbing 15%. Same point here as last month, and it’ll be the same until next November — Filner’s success will hinge on how well he can consolidate Democratic support. He hasn’t done it yet, but he’s also barely begun to fight with his campaign kickoff tour only beginning in the last couple weeks. Time will tell, but one thing’s for sure, it isn’t much hamstrung by Tony Krvaric’s assertion that Filner has 100% name ID. None of the public mayoral polls have released data on name ID, but given that recent national polling found that neither the Republican nor Democratic Parties even enjoy 100% name ID, it seems unlikely that Filner would be better known.
(While we’re on the subject, what does it say about the intersection of media and politics in San Diego that the 10News story quotes the chair of the Republican Party twice, DeMaio personally and a Fletcher spox without any comment from a Democratic official of any kind? Another good example of how far San Diego is from a level playing field in political coverage. [Also, is this Fletcher spox the same woman that taxpayers are funding at $7,000 a month to 'volunteer' for his campaign?])
Finally, the SUSA numbers throw some cold water on the simmering conventional wisdom that Nathan Fletcher has significant moderate appeal, or somehow splits the difference between DeMaio’s tea party conservatism and the insider-fiscal conservatism of Dumanis. Rather, Fletcher is tanking in cross-over appeal — all three other candidates pull more from the opposing party and more independents.
Fletcher’s base is overwhelmingly tea party so far. This suggests that the notional dynamic of Dumanis and Fletcher splitting the moderate vote isn’t actually happening, and Fletcher is providing more of a drag on DeMaio’s right flank than anything. It also suggests that the significant support that Dumanis draws from independents and defecting Democrats may transfer neither to DeMaio nor Fletcher in a runoff. Again, extra wrinkles that we didn’t get from B&B.
And before signing off, kudos to 10News for assuring us that the poll is “scientific” in the very first sentence of their report. At first I thought it was odd that they’d lead with that like they just cracked the technology, but as time has gone by, I like it as a backhanded criticism of other folks doing polling (even if it was unintentional). Any campaign season with inter-poll-sponsor-warfare is gonna be a fun one.
by Lucas O'Connor