Earlier this week we reported on a meeting with the campaign manager and pollster from the Paul Dietzel campaign, who touted a poll saying their man was holding a slight advantage over Garret Graves and Dan Claitor in the race to land a spot in the 6th District congressional runoff. The Dietzel people also touted their grassroots army and their theory that it would make the difference on Election Day – specifically that Dietzel’s get-out-the-vote operation would insure that he’s actually underpolling at present compared to what his actual vote will be.
We predicted in that report – and this should be no surprise – that there would be disagreement with the Dietzel camp’s theory of the race. And that disagreement didn’t take long to materialize in a substantive fashion. Today, the Graves campaign presented a completely different view of where things stand 26 days until Election Day.
Specifically, Graves has a poll out by Magellan Strategies, the nationally-known Republican firm doing their polling, which doesn’t show the skin-tight race Dietzel’s polling firm shows…
Graves’ poll has a sample of 1,423 respondents and a margin of error of 2.5 percent.
A poll with Graves at 21 percent and a nine-point spread between the three main Republican candidates is a far bolder statement than the 12-10-10 split Dietzel’s pollster John Couvillon was showing.
The Dietzel and Claitor camps will surely scoff at the poll and pick it apart. But Graves’ camp can defend the poll by noting that in the last few weeks they’ve unloaded onto the airwaves – we’re told by independent sources that Graves’ cable TV buys alone in the district total over $300,000 so far – and their ads are very effective. And the fact is, they are. This ad in particular has gotten strong reviews…
We know that effective TV ads, run with massive exposure, can move a race. We don’t know, absent credible independent polling, whether that is in fact happening here, or if it’s happening to the extent that Graves is now running away from the GOP field as Magellan’s poll suggests.
But even Dietzel’s polls showed upward movement for Graves, if sluggish, over the last three months.
Graves’ campaign manager Kevin Roig says that next week the campaign will show that it has raised over $1 million since the campaign began, and Graves’ campaign has had a much lower burn rate than the others – meaning they can continue their TV blitz, which their polling says is working, without running out of money.
The Graves campaign also took issue with Dietzel’s presentation of the race with respect to polling. They noted that the momentum among known polling where Dietzel’s campaign is concerned is negative, not positive. To wit…
- In February, before Graves entered the race Dietzel released a poll showing him with 18 percent.
- In March, Dietzel’s number was 19 percent.
- Then in April he dropped to 11 percent.
- In June, Dietzel was at 12.
- Dietzel then ticked up to 13 in July.
- And in August, he stayed at 13.
Given all that, Graves’ camp says Dietzel probably shouldn’t be crowing about a poll which has him at 12.
Of course, this is all little more than informed speculation at this point. Everyone has their own polling showing their candidate as making the runoff; we hope shortly to bring the Claitor camp’s theory of the race to you.
That said, Graves’ view is as believable as Dietzel’s. He’s running a bunch of TV ads, and they’re pretty good ones, his campaign is holding well-attended events (there is one tonight with Mary Matalin at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge), he’s got a lot more money than any of the other campaigns and he’s spending it. Like Dietzel he’s a first-time candidate, and unlike Dietzel he doesn’t have the name recognition to cover up his new-guy status, and there is some pushback against Graves’ candidacy in that he’s seen as a Bobby Jindal acolyte because he ran the governor’s coastal protection agency – and with Jindal not making an endorsement or campaigning for anyone in the race Graves bears all the negativity of being associated with an unpopular governor without getting any of the benefit of Jindal’s imprimatur or positive notice.
But Graves also has an attractive message, as Dietzel does, and while Dietzel might have a larger grassroots army Graves has one of his own (he boasts of having over 40,000 volunteer calls logged and 13,000 home visits by his campaign), plus there is the matter of the 13 parish presidents who have signed on to his campaign. If those parish presidents utilize their political machines on Graves’ behalf on Election Day, they could be his ace in the hole.
Of course, if the Magellan poll is accurate Graves doesn’t need an ace in the hole. He’s holding a winning hand with his show cards alone if he’s really sitting at 21 percent at present.