Finally! The poll drought is over. SurveyUSA put a poll in the field in the 49th from April 6 to April 10, interviewing 535 likely primary voters. Here's how things stand with apples-to-apples comparisons to the February SurveyUSA poll (for every candidate over 1%):
1. Rocky Chavez (R), 16% (-1% from the February poll)
2. Doug Applegate (D), 12% (-6%)
3. Mike Levin (D), 9% (+1%)
4. Diane Harkey (R), 8% (-2%)
5. Paul Kerr (D), 8% (+7%)
6. Sara Jacobs (D), 7% (+2%)
7. Kristin Gaspar (R), 5% (-2%)
8. Brian Maryott (R), 5% (+3%)
9. Mike Schmitt (R), 3% (+3%)
On the Democratic side, the big surprises (for us) are that Doug Applegate is down 6 points and that Paul Kerr has moved up 7 points relative to where each of them stood in February. This is a true apples-to-apples comparison because the pollster is the same. Mike Levin and Sara Jacobs picked up a little ground (1% and 2% respectively) but that movement isn't much given the vast expenditures of money (in Sara's case) and effort (in Mike's case).
Our takeaway is that our vote-splitting fears are coming to pass with Paul Kerr and Sara Jacobs sapping momentum from the Democratic front-runners, sucking support away from Applegate and stalling Levin. We are rapidly approaching a point where all four Democrats are splitting the vote evenly. It's ugly.
The silver lining is that the Republicans are suffering the same problem as well, to a much greater extent than we expected. In February, Rocky Chavez and Diane Harkey were far ahead of the pack. Since then, Harkey has actually gone backwards, losing 2% and dropping to 4th place overall. Chavez is in 1st place but it's basically by default since he's down 1% relative to February. Meanwhile, Brian Maryott picked up 3% to clock in at 5% overall, Mike Schmitt came out of nowhere to get 3%, and Schoonover, Nordal, and Medway are all at 1%. The Republicans are (amazingly) in worse shape than the Democrats when it comes to vote splitting.
Other takeaways that we consider important:
So, what to make of all this? What can we do to make sure a Democrat gets through to November? We'll continue to try to turn out the vote, educate voters about the vote-splitting problem, and appeal to them to support the front-runner when the time comes. However, we are going to pause in our efforts to halt the momentum of Paul Kerr and Sara Jacobs given that they are now within a point or two of Mike Levin.
It's not at all clear who the Democratic front-runner will be in a month. We've been unable to slow down Paul Kerr and Sara Jacobs enough to keep Doug Applegate and Mike Levin strongly ahead. The four Democrats are getting closer and closer to splitting the vote evenly between them.
With no Kerr and Jacobs in the race, our suspicion is that we'd all start thinking about two Democrats on the November ballot right about now. However, with two weakened front-runners and two challengers spending like crazy and gaining ground, we are still in jeopardy.
We will have to count on Democratic turn-out and the fragmented Republican field to give us hope that a Democrat can take the second spot on the ballot in November.
Voices of the 49th is committed to making sure that voters in the 49th congressional district have a meaningful choice in November... which means engaging, educating, informing, and influencing voters through the jungle primary in June so that a Democrat makes it on to the final ballot.