The poll that 19th Senate District Democratic candidate Jason Hodge released yesterday (see previous post) has created quite a buzz in political circles in Sacramento and on the Central Coast. Much of the attention has focused on the surprising numbers revealed in hypothetical head-to-head November matchups between Hodge and presumed Republican candidate Mike Stoker and between Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson and Stoker.
The numbers showed Stoker beating Jackson 47 percent to 42 percent and Stoker and Hodge in a virtual deadheat.
Those results boosted Stoker's confidence yesterday, as he sent an email to supporters asserting, "You know I am not spinning the strength of our campaign when I am using poll results from one of my Democrat opponents."
The only problem, as Hodge campaign strategist Richie Ross told me today, is that the head-to-head numbers from the poll are essentially meaningless.
The voter sample Ross chose to poll included only those voters who cast ballots in at least one of the two most recent very low turnout elections -- the 2008 statewide primary, which was split from the presidential primary, and the 2009 special election. That standard produced a polling sample that included 44 percent Democrats, 39 percent Republicans and 17 percent decline-to-states. That created a 5-point Democratic lead in the polling sample -- in a district in which Democrats hold a 12-point voter-registration advantage.
While Ross' turnout scenario is entirely realistic for the June primary, it is far off the mark in reflecting turnout for the November presidential election -- when any actual head-to-head matchups would take place.
"I didn't poll the November universe," Ross told me.
So, while the poll did suggest that Jackson has some potential weaknesses, it does not necessarily reflect the sentiment of voters who will decide the contest in November.