Republican Matt Doheny's congressional campaign released a poll today that supporters say is evidence that they're going to win the Nov. 6 race against Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh.
But the poll doesn't actually include the most important numbers: Whom did the respondents say they would vote for?
Public Opinion Strategies, a GOP polling firm, said they reached 400 likely voters, but the polling memo is unclear on what those 400 people said.
The memo says that "among those voters most likely to turnout on Election Day," Mr. Doheny trails, 40 percent to 42 percent. In an Oct. 3 poll, that number was 44-43 in favor of Mr. Owens.
But that Oct. 3 poll also included the margin for likely voters, which stood at 45 percent to 40 percent in favor of Mr. Owens.
Other numbers have actually gotten worse for the Doheny campaign — more voters say that Mr. Owens should be re-elected, and fewer say that it's important for Republicans to maintain a "check" on President Obama's policies. The change is statistically insignificant, but the Doheny camp needs a statistically significant move in the other direction.
An independent pollster will likely take another look at the race this week. You should expect some significant tightening from the 13-point lead that Mr. Owens had over Mr. Doheny in September. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is ramping up spending against Mr. Doheny. And the National Republican Congressional Committee sent a staffer to replace spokesman Jude Seymour, who is on paternity leave. If the NRCC didn't believe Mr. Doheny could win, would they have made a call to the bullpen? I doubt it.
The question remains, How close is this election? The Doheny poll doesn't give a satisfying or exact answer to that question.
Robert Blizzard, Mr. Doheny's pollster, responded in an email that he respectfully takes issue with my analysis, namely that the poll "doesn't give a satisfying answer" as to how close this election is.
"I think we've spelled it out pretty clear in the memo. This race is a dead heat and could go either way next week. If you're not satisfied, wait one more week," Mr. Blizzard said.