CD11: McNerney and Harmer in dead heat





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.”

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • John W

    I don’t doubt that the race is a dead heat, which may not be good news for Jerry. On the other hand, with this poll being so slanted in terms of questions, I’m surprised it doesn’t have Harmer winning in a landslide.

  • Mark Metzler

    Lets not forget that David Harmer won the GOP nomination…only with the support of the most extreme group of people involved in American Politcs, today…the Tea Party Movement.

    Only a short time ago, these folks were parading around with guns, misspelled signs, and hurling racial epitaphs.

    Now, of course, as the election approaches…the GOP is trying to clean them up, and make them look like mainstream citizens!

    But these folks almost always seem to have their facts backwards. For one thing, virtually every economist in the country…whether conservative or liberal…disagrees with their silly ideogical drivel about the economy.

    Lets not forget who David Harmer and his Tea Party followers really are! Do you think people like this could possibly figure out how to create more jobs in the area?

  • Elwood

    Oh, wise Mark, won’t you please tell us “who David Harmer and his Tea Party followers really are”?

    Let me guess:




    Not true believers in the wonders of liberalism?

    “Do you think people like this could possibly figure out how to create more jobs in the area?”

    Could they possibly do any worse than the Obummer regime?

  • John W

    First rule of medicine: Do no Harmer. Speaking of medicine, Mr. Harmer is reported [Danville Dispatch] to have told a Tea Party group in Lodi that the health insurance reform act is something so odious and un-American that we should “Pour salt on it, and curse it in God’s holy name.” Not sure what the salt part is all about (perhaps a reference to his first run for Congress – in Utah), but you’ve gotta love it whenever a pol brings God into the argument.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    I know it’s too early for firm predictions, but I say Jerry by a nose, not David by a hair.

  • Matt

    Unemployment is at 9.5% nationwide, and even worse here in California. Your claim about virtually every economist disagreeing with the fact that our economy is growing worse and worse by the day. It’d be nice to have a civilized converstaion here, but it is awfully hard to when you make up facts.

  • John W

    Re: #6

    Actually, 9.6% as of today. But, to support Mark, there really is a consensus among most experts that the economy is moving in a positive direction, however slowly. People are backing off recent concerns that we might be headed for a double dip. The reality is that the economy caught a severe cold in late 2007, morphing into double pneumonia plus a massive heart attack in late 2008. Anybody who thought we would have a V-shaped or even broad U-shaped recovery from that was kidding himself. I don’t blame Bush for either the 2001 recession or the current one. But, in my opinion, we never recovered from the 2001 recession. Job creation was minimal. We just fooled ourselves about a recovery with a fake economy and consumer spending propped up by artifically low interest rates, the housing bubble, people burning through the equity in their homes and putting the war, the Medicare prescription drug program and, yes, tax cuts on the Bank of China credit card. Now, we are in a national rehab program from that drug-induced high. I don’t care who gets elected, or un-elected. There is no short-cut out of this mess. Just a “long-hard slog,” to borrow from Don Rumsfeld.

  • Matt

    No matter how many “experts” agree, the people do not and will not until they have a job to support their families. The plain truth is that the stimulus package has failed miserably, and liberal democrats have been expanding government to a very dangerous level. Jobs are harder and harder to find, our debt gets worse and worse, and very soon our taxes will get higher and higher.

  • John W

    Re #8

    Matt, quoting from your #6

    “It’d be nice to have a civilized conversation here…”

    I guess your definition of that is one that agrees with you and blames Dems for everything and Repubs for nothing. I could cite numerous facts contradicting your assessment, but why bother? Have a nice civilized conversation with yourself.

  • Elwood

    Every thread contains words of wisdom from John W.

    They can be summarized very simply. If you have a D after your name, you’re right. R stands for wrong.

  • John W

    Oh Sure, Elwood! Then, how’s come I’m not voting for Gavin for Lt. Guv or Buchanan for AD 15, and am undecided on Brown/Whitman? I’ll bet I’ve voted for more Republicans than you’ve voted for Dems. Want to take me up on that bet? We could settle up on the bet at Starbucks, as long as you don’t bring your gun.

  • Matt

    Please cite your numerous facts contradicting my assessment.

  • Elwood

    Re: #11

    You’d lose that bet.

    I’m a recovering dimmiecrat.

  • John W

    Re #13 — from what I’ve seen, you’ve gone from “recovering” to fully recovered, and then some.

  • John W

    Re: # 12

    For now, I’ll just contradict you on the stimulus.

    YOU: “Stimulus package has failed miserably” and “jobs are harder and harder to find.”

    FACT: Stimulus package created/saved up to 3.3 million jobs and prevented the unemployment rate from being as much as 1.8 points higher — Congressional Budget Office, as reported by Bloomberg News 8/24/10. Repubs like to call it “Porkulus.” But it’s real people with families to feed doing real stuff, like the Caldecott Tunnel. Jobs are, indeed, hard to find, but would be even harder to find without the stimulus.

    FACT: 763 thousand net private sector jobs created in first 8 months of 2010. 8.5 million private sector jobs lost from Jan 2008 through Dec 2009, of which 7.5 million were lost through the first half of 2009, before the stimulus kicked in. — Data from charts on Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

    By the way, the economy produced no net gain in private sector jobs during the eight Bush years, despite the tax cuts.

  • ted ford

    This was defininitely a “push poll”. Subtract at least 5 pts. from Harmer’s total to get a truer read on the race. Stuart Rothenberg and Charlie Cook both have it as a ‘lean Democrat’. Harmer may win this if there is a Republican tidal wave, but for now, McNerney probably has a slim lead. The Democrats should be most worried about intensity and turnout. This race is, in a sense, the national pivot point on controlling the House. If the Democrats cannot retain this seat, then Boehner is Speaker. There will be a lot of money poured into this race.

  • skeptic94505

    Considering the amount of money Karl Rove is pooring into Harmer’s campaign, Jerry is doing well.

    As a Republican living in Discovery Bay, I am supporting Jerry. Known him for years as a conservative, thoughtful business man.

    Harmer is scary. When you look at Harmer’s real position he will:

    1) Continue to support outsourcing and importing high tech workers into California (where will be daughter with her degree in Software Engineering from UC get a job)?

    2) Harmer will push privitation of Socical Security (read Wall Street)

    3) Harmer will roll back any Health Care Reforms (Say hi to $1500/month health care bills)

    I will continue to support Jerry out here in Discovery Bay,

  • Elwood

    Re: #17

    “Considering the amount of money Karl Rove is pooring into Harmer’s campaign, Jerry is doing well.”

    Do you have a shred of documentation for that claim?

    Poor dimmiecrats!

    Still using Karl and W for bogeymen.

    It would be pathetic if it weren’t so transparently stupid.

  • John W

    I don’t like it, but I’ve been practicing the phrase, “Speaker Bohner.” His rise should do for the spray on tan industry what Nancy did for Botox. What will the GOP do when they don’t have Nancy and Harry as scapegoats, and people start focusing on the Tea’d up R party and it’s ideas? I don’t entirely disagree with Paul Ryan’s thoughts on Medicare, but I look forward to the GOP rather than the Dems hearing from the “Keep Government Hands off my Medicare” crowd.

  • skeptic94505

    Per the comment 17, see URL As noted below:

    Jerry is noted as one Karl’s “Top Twenty Targets” and has been since he kicked out Pombo in 2006.

  • skeptic94505

    Another link on Karl Rove’s $52M fund raising for 527 groups from the Washington Post:


  • skeptic94505

    Or if you want to look at David Harmer’s full Bio showing his STRONG ties to Wall Street (including a RECENT position as a JP Morgan Vice President and many other financial groups),
    just go to this link:
    Yes, clearly a “grass roots guy”

  • Common Tater

    What in blazes is the problem with “ties to Wall Street?”

    How about ex-congress-critter Ellen Tauscher’s ties to Wall Street? Her ties were pervasive, immense and long-standing.

    And do you want to talk about real “carpet bagging?” Just look at how Tauscher arrived on the East Bay political scene…

  • John W

    For most of us, this race is about where these two guys stand on the issues. All the other stuff is pretty irrelevant. That said, I indulge in some interesting irrelevancies:

    It’s not a big deal, but I’ve never seen a candidate for Congress, like Harmer, for whom you can’t find a date of birth or age listed anywhere, either on their official bio or on sites like Wikipedia. Is this a matter of vanity, or is there a problem with his birth certificate?

    Re: #23, nothing necessarily wrong with “ties to Wall Street.” However, I note with a chuckle that, on LinkedIn, he lists his “functional contribution” at WaMu as “…internal processes and controls to increase efficiency and reduce risk.” This was for a 3-yr period ending 9/08 (the big meltdown). So, I have to ask, how’d that “increase efficiency and reduce risk” thing work out at now defunct WaMu?

  • Elwood

    Washington Post, Washington times, whatever. I’d point out the difference but it would just confuse Skeptic94505.

    And Salon.com “The online arts and culture magazine”. Hard up for a source are we?

  • skeptic94505

    Hi All,

    Vice President at JPMorgan? WaMu? Stating Liar Loans are Grade A and selling them to pension funds overseas? Remember the world wide financial melt down?
    I don’t want to vote for anyone who has ties to this crowd.

    BTW, I am not a huge fan of Uncle Ben at the Federal Reserve, or Little Timmy at the Treasury either. But Jerry has shown strength and independance and has not supported all of Obama initiatives.

    And Elwood, regarding sources for Karl Rove’s 2008 “hit list”, that list was leaked and well known, and knowing Karl, I am sure that he wants Jerry out… lets focus in the issues and not trivia.

    Skeptic94505.. a registered Republican who is now an independant… met Goldwater in 1964 and wish he was still alive.

  • Elwood

    Everyone knows that “leaked” material is infallible.

    Now planted material may be another matter.

  • skeptic94505

    Hi Elwood,

    Here is three more “unreliable sources” no one has heard of


    We have run this issue into the ground.. I am 99.9999% sure that Jerry is still on Karl’s hit list, Karl has over $50M to spend.. but I’ll give you the last comment.

    Have a good evening,


  • Bob1128

    Jerry voted for Health Care – enough said.

  • Paul

    I agree with Bob1128.

    Jerry McNerney signed off on and made the sales pitch for that mockery of democracy. Between the (legal but unethical) legislative bribes, Medicare double accounting, deem and pass, demonization of the opposition, canceled town halls, phone systems shut off, stacked CBO analyses, unenforceable executive orders, and promises to reduce healthcare costs when results are now showing costs going up… It’s hard to pick the most disgusting element of the way Jerry’s party does business. It’s hard to fathom that he defends those guys, but there you have it.