A poll commissioned by potential Democratic congressional candidate and former BART Director Dan Richard shows state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier in statistical dead heat with Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (15 and 13 percent respectively) and Richard trailing at 7 percent.
Nearly 40 percent of those polled had no opinion about who should replace Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a Democratic congresswoman from Alamo who has accepted an under secretary post in the U.S. State Department.
Veteran Democratic pollster Jim Moore conducted the telephone survey of 400 likely voters over the weekend. It has an error rate of plus/minus 5 percent.
Richard says his third-place finish is “about what I expected for a guy who hasn’t been in public office for four years.” Richard left the BART board in 2004.
But Richard says he was surprised at the relatively low numbers for DeSaulnier, who has held public office in Contra Costa County since 1991, and Buchanan, who just came off a high-profile contested campaign for her Assembly seat.
The poll showed DeSaulnier with a 19 percent favorable approval rating compared with a 9 percent unfavorable while 23 percent did not know. The remaining 49 percent said they had never heard of him. Ouch.
Buchanan received similar numbers: 16 percent favorable approval, 8 percent unfavorable, 29 percent didn’t know and 47 percent had never heard of her.
Richard ordered the poll as part of his study of whether to enter the race. And while he is not ready to say yes or no, the results do not discourage him.
“The most compelling conclusion of this poll is how little traction anybody has,” Richard says.”My problem is lackof name identification, which will take a lot of money to overcome. But if almost half the people have never heard of DeSaulnier, a politician who has been in office 18 years, or Buchanan, who just won a multi-million-dollar campaign, then what does that say about what it takes to obtain name identification?”
On the other hand, Richard rightfully notes that name identification is a double-edged sword.
If voters drop-kick the ballot measures on the May 19 special election intended to help keep the state budget upright, the state’s financial morass could deepen and leave incumbents legislators DeSaulnier and Buchanan treading water.