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New CD10 poll has Doherty within five

Some good news for Democratic Congressional candidate Larry Joe Doherty in CD10: A new poll by Goodwin Simon Victoria Research has him trailing incumbent Mike McCaul by five points. Here’s the polling memo (PDF):

In the initial trial heat,McCaul gets 43% of the vote to Doherty’s 38%,a scant five percentage-point lead that shows McCaul’s support as completely unchanged from our May baseline (also 43%McCaul), while Dohertyhas gainedfrom34% in May. McCaul was well short of the 50% mark in May, but it is doubly significant now, with only 4 weeks left, that he has done nothing to strengthen his position.

McCaul has relatively low name recognition – only 59% – which allows a reasonable well-funded campaign – Doherty has raised a million dollars. so far, so he qualifies – to try to define him. That will be key to closing the gap. There’s no crosstabs or internals available, so I can’t fully evaluate this poll, but it strikes me as perfectly reasonable.

I’m not quite ready to call this race “lean Republican” as BOR has (they have done the same for CD07 as well). Despite the closeness of this poll, and the recent seven-point poll for Michael Skelly, I want to see them crack 40% before I’ll go past “likely Republican”, as the Cook Political Report classified them in July. It’s great that they’re within single digits, and that the incumbents are below 50%. They’ve taken the first steps, now I’m looking for the next step, which I certainly believe they can and will take.

One more thing to ponder: As the national tracking polls in the Presidential race correlate with results in individual state races, so do statewide poll numbers track with downballot races like Congressional campaigns. The latest Texas poll shows John McCain leading by nine points, which is less than half of George Bush’s margin of victory in 2004. Burka thinks 54-46 is a likely outcome. What I’m getting at here is that you can’t have an eight-point margin for the Republican Presidential candidate and the same kind of partisan numbers in Congressional districts like CDs 10 and 07 as you did in 2004. We already know from 2006 that those districts aren’t as red as they once were; this is more evidence to that. I expect that strong Congressional candidates like Doherty and Skelly, who will be spending large amounts of money on advertising and voter outreach, will run better in their districts than Barack Obama will, perhaps by a significant amount. So keep an eye on the state polls as well, such as we get them, because any tightening there should be construed as a boost for these candidates as well. Certainly, the closer things are at the top, the smaller the hill they have to climb.

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