A poll reportedly commissioned by state Senate Democrats shows state Sen. Loni Hancock with a wide lead over potential challenger Assemblyman Sandre Swanson in a one-on-one battle for her 9th State Senate District seat.
The poll shows 44 percent of likely voters in the newly drawn district supporting the incumbent Hancock, 18 percent supporting Swanson, 8 percent supporting other candidates and 31 percent unsure. Goodwin Simon Strategic Research conducted the telephone survey of 402 likely voters Sept. 24 through Sept. 27; the margin of error is five percentage points.
In his memo, Goodwin wrote that Hancock leads Swanson by 25 points among Democrats, by 27 points among nonpartisans, and by 36 points among minor party voters; she also leads among the district’s few Republican voters. Also, she leads him in both Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, he wrote, and by 10 points in the city of Oakland.
“Hancock leads Swanson among black voters (who comprise about 17% of likely voters), and holds a very wide lead among white, Latino, and mixed race voters,” he continued. “Moreover, a match-up of positive paragraphs, drawn entirely from the two candidates’ websites — and intended to be as fair as possible to both candidates — widens Hancock’s lead to 30 points: 52% to 22%. Hancock should win this race fairly easily; it would be very difficult for Swanson to catch up to her.”
Now, for the caveats: My source provided me neither the actual methodology and script for the poll nor the cross-tab information for subgroups. All I have is this memo. But the fact that this poll was even commissioned means Hancock’s supporters are looking to paint her as a lock for re-election.
I’d reported back in February that Swanson had filed a statement of intention to run in 2012 — when he’ll be termed out of his current seat — for the 9th State Senate District. At the time, Swanson said his nascent Senate campaign already had held its first fundraiser. Still, he said, “the final decision on running obviously can’t be made until the district lines are drawn … and nobody up here has anything to say about that.”
“Given the time frame that the redistricting commission has set for this summer, you can’t develop a credible campaign (for 2012) unless you develop the infrastructure for that now,” Swanson had said, noting that Hancock “was the first one I talked to,” he added. “We have met and I told her I was going to open up this committee, and she completely understood.”
He had called her “a friend and a colleague I’ve worked closely with,” and said he’s unlikely to challenge her if they both remain in the same district. “This is about seeing where the lines fall,” he said.
Well, those lines fell so that both Swanson – who lives in Alameda’s Bay Farm Island section – and Hancock, of Berkeley, do indeed both live in the district. Friends they may be, but this poll’s existence makes it seem like someone has been taking Michael Corleone’s advice to “keep your friends close but your enemies closer.”
The “Swanson for Senate 2012” committee had $61,197.48 in the bank as of June 30; I see no record of any big-ticket contributions reported since then. Hancock’s 2012 re-election campaign committee had $66,964.12 in the bank as of June 30, but she looks to have raised at least $13,600 since then – half from the State Building and Construction Trades Council, and half from state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s campaign committee.
UPDATE @ 5:03 P.M.: It seems this showdown is ON.
“I’ve talked to my wife and obviously I’m seriously considering this run,” Swanson said a few minutes ago. “I am approaching a final decision and I’ll be making an announcement about my plans within the coming weeks.”
But he sure sounds as if he has made that decision already.
“I’ve been involved in politics for almost four decades, so I don’t panic very easily and I keep my eye on the main agenda. And the agenda in any campaign would have to be the pain Californians are facing, the insecurity that those with disabilities and relying on the safety net are feeling, the pain of those losing their homes right now… This is the campaign I would run,” he said. “The last thing I would do is concentrate on personality. Whatever I do, it would be a race about issues… I have always believed that the best idea should always win the day.”
He said this poll doesn’t scare him; when he first sought his Assembly seat, an early poll showed him 31 points behind Oakland City Attorney John Russo, and another poll just two weeks before the primary election showed him 12 points behind. Aggressive campaigning and a clear message can overcome bad numbers, he said.