A benchmark poll that places Democratic congressional candidate Jay Fawcett an astounding 13 points ahead of his GOP opponent among likely voters in one of the most Republican-leaning districts in the country has electrified the campaign of the retired Air Force lieutenant colonel.
But the campaign manager for Republican Doug Lamborn maintains he is "hugely skeptical" of the poll, released this week. Among the findings:
41 percent of the voters polled were likely to vote for Fawcett.
28 percent were likely to vote for Lamborn.
Another 28 percent are undecided.
"Even some people on our side have a hard time believing this, and it is based on what people have been fed for 25 years," says Fawcett's campaign manager, Wanda James, herself an unaffiliated voter. "I'm sick of people saying this is a 2-to-1 Republican-to-Democrat district and completely forgetting about the independent voter.
"I make up my own mind, thank you, and there are 135,000 people out there just like me."
All told, 600 people participated in the comprehensive benchmark poll, conducted by Bernard Whitman of New York City-based Whitman Insight Strategies. James says of the people polled, 51 percent were Republicans, 22 percent Democrats and 27 percent unaffiliated. They were queried on a vast array of subjects, including the war in Iraq, moral and social issues, the economy and gas prices. The poll, James says, has a 4 percent margin of error. Only people who voted in 2002 and 2004 those who are the most likely to cast a ballot in November were included.
And, she notes, it was conducted between Aug. 17 and 26. That was before Republican Rep. Joel Hefley, who is retiring after 20 years in office, lambasted the Lamborn campaign for being "sleazy and dishonest" and announced he would not support the candidate.
Though Hefley fell short of endorsing Fawcett,he did not rule out personally voting for the Democrat in interviews in the Gazette, the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News.
On Monday, James said that their poll also shows Lamborn and Fawcett running dead even with 35 percent each in the conservative northern Colorado Springs state Senate district that Lamborn currently represents.
"One of the bigger issues that came out of this is, we've got work to do because we've got to get better name recognition," she said.
Hotaling, Lamborn's campaign manager, says he cannot comment until he has seen the poll and has a clear understanding of the methodology used. So far Lamborn has not conducted a similar benchmark poll, but internal surveys, Hotaling says, show the state senator is doing well among GOP and unaffiliated voters.
"He expects to win this race," says Hotaling, downplaying the fallout from Hefley's condemnation of Lamborn. "So far, the only ones upset with the primary and the will of the voters are Hefley and a handful of Crank supporters."
However, James maintains that the Fawcett-commissioned poll shows support for President George Bush at 62 percent, for U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar at 57 percent and Hefley at 56 percent indicating that those polled fairly represent a conservative district.