Congressional District 11 Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney and GOP challenger David Harmer are in a statistical dead heat, according to a poll released late last night.
The New York-based American Action Forum, a conservative policy think tank led by former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, surveyed 4,000 likely general voters in 10 western Congressional districts including 400 each in districts 11 and 47 in California. (Check out Hotline’s analysis of the overall survey results.)
The poll was conducted on Aug. 23-29 by Ayres McHenry Associates Inc. The likely voters were selected randomly and the pollster factored for age and gender and minimally weighted for party. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percent. Click here to view American Action Forum’s press release and view links to the polling memos for each district.
Among the 400 likely voters surveyed in District 11, 45 percent favor Harmer while 44 percent prefer McNerney. Eleven percent are undecided.
Much of the poll is standard. The polling firm is widely respected.
But some the poll questions clearly come from a conservative viewpoint and contain loaded terminology, particularly those that deal with McNerney’s record on earmarks, cap and trade and health care legislation. For example, in one of the questions, the pollster asks if the following information would make the respondent more or less likely to vote for McNerney: “He voted for card check, which would eliminate secret ballots for employees in union elections, and has received over $700,000 in campaign contributions from big labor.” Click here to read the questions.
The pollsters asked no questions of respondents about whether Harmer’s positions on issues would make them more or less likely to vote for him, or if they did, they did not include them in the materials posted on the Web site.
The poll is somewhat skewed toward the right, with 48 percent of respondents identifying themselves as Republican while only 37 percent called themselves Democrats. The actual party registration gap between the two major parties is less than 1 percentage point.
On the other hand, McNerney does not fare well in these numbers. When asked to choose between the two candidates, McNerney’s GOP challenger came within one percentage point even though 74 percent of those surveyed had never heard of Harmer or had no opinion of him.
Unhappy about the economy and persistent unemployment, 73 percent of those surveyed in the 11th District say the nation is on the wrong track and unfortunately for McNerney, voters may well be looking for someone to blame in November.
In other findings:
- 57 percent view the economy as the most important issue facing the country, far surpassing any of the other choices. The closest result was 8 percent who view government spending and the federal deficit as the most critical issue.
- 26 percent say the factor most likely to affect their choice for Congress is creating new jobs, 26 percent, followed by controlling government spending at 23 percent.
- 51 percent oppose federal health care reform legislation signed into law while 40 percent support it.
- 53 percent have never heard of Harmer, while only 7 percent have no knowledge of McNerney.
- 35 percent say McNerney deserves re-election, while 52 percent say it is time to elect someone new.
- Half the respondents identified themselves as very or somewhat conservative, 27 percent as moderates and 20 percent as liberals.
The respective national partisan organizations had this to say about the poll.
“The more California voters learn about David Harmer’s support for outsourcing American jobs, privatizing Social Security and eliminating public schools, the more it’ll become clear just how out of touch David Harmer is,” said Andy Stone, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“It’s no surprise that Jerry McNerney finds himself in a tough battle for reelection,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Joanna Burgos. “California families have clearly had enough of McNerney’s support for the job-killing Obama-Pelosi agenda and know that David Harmer is the only candidate in the race who has what it takes to put Californians back to work.”