Public Policy Polling, a firm allied with Democrats, came out with new data on the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Its headline finding: Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton now has a slight lead over former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge.* Click here for the full data set.
Even if you don't buy the exact numbers(26 percent Dalton, 25 percent Etheridge) the fact Dalton has picked up ground against Etheridge since PPP's poll a month ago is significant. What isn't clear, to me anyway, is whether that move is due to debate performances, television ad runs starting or some other factor.
Also significant: 35 percent of primary voters are undecided. That's a lot of votes up for grabs with early voting under way.
In any case, state Rep. Bill Faison can't be happy with these results. He has picked up only one percentage point over the late March poll, bringing him up to 5 percent of respondents saying they'll vote for him. That's only one percentage point better to the unknown and under-financed campaigns of Bruce Blackmon and Gary Dunn.
With Faison lagging so far behind, the political conversation may soon turn to whether Dalton or Etheridge will get over the 40 percent mark needed to avoid a summer runoff.
Other notes from the poll:
- PPP polled on David Parker and whether he should resign as chairman of the party. Despite 44 percent of respondents saying they "didn't know" whether they approved of the job he was doing, 45 percent said he should resign. An interesting tidbit from the cross tab: if a voter described himself as more conservative he was less likely to say Parker should quit.
- PPP asked about the primaries for lieutenant governor, treasurer and labor commissioner. In all three races, over 50 percent of voters said they were undecided.
* Update: An astute reader points out that the margin of error for the poll is 4.4 percent. Therefore, Dalton doesn't have a statistical lead on Etheridge. But as far as this poll goes, Dalton is winning.