The Marion County political parties have been keeping a lid on their ongoing polling results in the Indianapolis mayor’s race, but a new result today was too good for the Democratic Party to keep to itself. A “strategic memorandum” sent by Chairman Ed Treacy to the media (and presumably some party supporters, given the solicitation for donations at the end) touts the poll’s finding: Democratic challenger Melina Kennedy is at 40 percent support among likely voters, vs. 38 percent for Republican Mayor Greg Ballard and 21 percent undecided. Earlier today, during my interview with Treacy about another topic, the delivery of these results had made Treacy more confident than ever that Kennedy’s victory is all but certain.To see the rest of Murray's piece, click here:
But there are some important caveats to this poll: First, Treacy’s release doesn’t specify the margin of error, though surely it’s greater than the 2-percentage-point difference between Kennedy and Ballard. So the best that can be said is that Kennedy and Ballard are about even, by this poll’s finding. Also, this was a poll commissioned by the Marion County Democratic Party. It was conducted by Riggs Research Services locally; I know very little about the firm, which doesn’t seem to have much of a footprint on Google. Whether its polling has any bias, I don’t know — though Democrats say shop leader Jim Riggs’ polling was scarily accurate in many local races last year, in a few cases underestimating Democrats’ support in a few contests in his September 2010 survey. (Details of the mayoral poll: 403 likely voters were interviewed Tuesday and Wednesday. The party’s release did not provide information about party association of those polled but says the sample was geographically and demographically representative.)
Marion County Republican County chairman Kyle Walker is quoted in the piece as saying that the Mayor has a "double digit" lead. That too raises questions. There is a huge difference between 10% and 25%, yet both are "double digits." So what does he mean by "double digits?"
My guess is the status of the race is somewhere in between where Walker and Treacy suggest it is. One thing that makes me think the numbers have moved favorably for Kennedy is the thus far lack of aggressiveness of Kennedy in attacking Mayor Ballard's record, i.e. the so-called negative campaigning, a term I am not fond of in that context. Although Republicans leaders say Kennedy has been negative, the fact is she has barely scratched the surface of a compare and contrast campaign that one would think a challenger has to run against an incumbent mayor. Kennedy seems to be coasting in her campaign, rather than scrambling trying to make up a huge deficit. That spells trouble for Ballard.
I expect that the Mayor still has a lead, but that the lead has shrank. If so, Kennedy will have achieved an advance on the Mayor while barely firing a shot. What happens when Kennedy brings out the big political guns, shooting the three plus years of ammunition Mayor Ballard has provided in supporting politically unpopular policies?