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Dramatic surge for Heiner in new poll

by Joe Arnold


Posted on October 27, 2010 at 5:09 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 28 at 1:13 AM

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - Down six points one month ago in the WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll, Republican Hal Heiner has catapulted past Democrat Greg Fischer and now leads Fischer by seven points.

It is a dramatic 13 point swing with only six days until the election.

Louisville Mayor
631 Likely Voters
Heiner (R)   51%
Fischer (D)  44%
Couzin (I)       1%
Mills (I)            0%
Undecided    4%
Margin of Sampling Error: ± 4%

Click here for the full poll from SurveyUSA.

Heiner would become the first Republican elected to lead the county since Rebecca Jackson was County Judge - and the first Republican mayor in 40 years.

"As people are getting down here to the end and making their final decisions on who to support," Heiner responded, "it seems they are embracing our campaign."

Fischer was unfazed.

"We like our momentum.  We like our energy.  We feel good," Fischer said.

Both campaigns suggest that the race is still neck and neck, but Heiner welcomed the first WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll to show him in the lead.  Three months ago, he and Fischer were tied at 45%, the closest Heiner had previously been to claiming the lead.

"We've seen over the past month a very positive swing toward our campaign," Heiner said, "So even without this particular poll, (we are) feeling very encouraged."

Fischer countered by referring to a poll conducted last week by Insight Cable's CN2 channel which had Fischer up by nine points.

"We've been saying this is going to be a tight race and we've got a great field team.  Wwe plan on closing strong.  We plan on winning," Fischer said.

Heiner appears to be capitalizing on what has been described as a national enthusiasm gap - with Democrats demoralized and Republicans energized.

Louisville Mayor
More enthusiastic voters
Heiner (R)   61%
Fischer (D)  38%
Undecided    2%
Margin of Sampling Error: ± 4%

Among voters who describe themselves as more enthusastic this year compared to prior elections, Heiner leads by 23 points.

Louisville Mayor
Less enthusiastic voters
Heiner (R)   39%
Fischer (D)  58%
Undecided    8%
Margin of Sampling Error: ± 4%

Among voters who are less enthusastic compared to prior elections, Fischer  leads by 19.

"In Jefferson County, I don't feel that landslide against Democrats," Fischer said, "I feel great enthusiasm amongst Democrats.  We have good candidates here in Jefferson County.  I'm predicting we're going to have a big turnout as well and that's going to lead us to victory.

And Heiner, despite the national GOP trend, is deemphasizing the "R" behind his name, saying his platform reflects his leadership.

"It wasn't based on a party ideology, but rather how can we move this community forward," Heiner said.

Heiner's recent campaign ads have focused on the allegation that Fischer traded influence in city hall in exchange for Jackie Green's endorsement.  Heiner, however, says the issue is "not a prime factor" in his surge.

"One of those areas I felt the citizens needed to hear the facts and then make a decision on their own," Heiner explained, "In our platform right from the start, one of our main platform points was open accountable governement."

Fischer pointed to Wednesday's Louisville Courier-Journal's endorsement of his candidacy and previous editorials that absolved him of unethical behavior in the Green controversy.  An "Ad Watch" feature in the newspaper on Tuesday, however, concluded that "there was a deal between Green and Fischer, but the question of whether Fischer offered anything of substance remains open."

"People understand our position on that," Fischer said, "and I believe people rejected that as well.  A lot of comments I've gotten is people see that I'm inclusive, bring people to the table and I think that's what people want in the next mayor."

Regardless of the factors, this poll at least confirms one thing - that Greg Fischer - considered the favorite entering the race - is fighting for his political life and Hal Heiner is primed for an upset.

Some local Democrats have complained about the WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll this election cycle - saying the number of people who are identifying themselves as Republican does not fit voting history.

Voters Party Identification
September 26 poll
Republican      34%
Democrat        57%
Independent      9%
Margin of Sampling Error: +/-4.1%


In last month's poll which Fischer led by six, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 23 points.

Voters Party Identification
October 27 poll
Republican      38%
Democrat        52%
Independent      9%
Margin of Sampling Error: +/-4.1%

In the new poll which shows a dramatic swing toward Heiner, Democrats hold only a 14 point advantage among the people who were polled.

"(The numbers) go up and down," Fischer said when asked about the party breakdown, "so, we can't control that.  We can control what we are doing and we like where we're at, we like our message.  We're going to win."

"Even using those numbers," Heiner countered, "and applying them to the statistics from this poll, still shows a tremendous surge in our campaign."

Meanwhile, several influential Democrats have shared their concerns that missteps in the Senate campaign of Democrat Jack Conway - namely the Aqua Buddha ad controversy - have dismayed Louisville Democrats who may feel less motivated to vote at all on Tuesday.

"I hear as many people who are encouraged as opposed to what you are calling," Fischer responded, "So I think there is going to be a big turnout for that.  Certanly going to help me as well.   So I'm not worried about that."

Heiner also dismissed a possible Conway effect or any coattails in the mayoral race.

"I think this mayor's race is an important enough race by itself that people will come out and choose who they feel like Louisville - who can get Louisville to make up some ground that we've lost in the last decade," Heiner said.