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WHAS11/CJ Bluegrass Poll shows wide open mayors race

by Joe Arnold


Posted on March 15, 2010 at 12:18 AM

Updated Monday, Mar 15 at 12:18 AM

The first poll of the Louisville mayor's race shows that if the election was held today, no one is running away with either primary.  And, with two full months to go and television ads just starting, nearly one-third of likely voters in both the Democratic and Republican primaries are "undecided."  The WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll was released in the print edition of the Courier Journal on Monday morning.  I will have reaction from the leading campaigns at 5pm and 6pm Monday on WHAS11 News.

Meanwhile, in a sneak peek of poll results WHAS11 will reveal on-air Monday afternoon, more voters say they are for Congressman John Yarmuth's reelection than those who are against.  I have talked to Yarmuth about the poll and about a new billboard in Hospital Curve downtown that suggests he is not voting the will of his constituents.  I'll have the poll and his comments in our Monday newscasts.

Click here for the full poll and a sneak peek of the John Yarmuth poll numbers

That said, here is a rundown of the overall numbers:

Republican - Margin of Sampling Error +/- 4.7%

Chris Thieneman       34%

Hal Heiner                    30%

Jonathan Robertson    6%

Undecided                  30%

Survey USA summary:  In a Republican primary today, 03/13/10, businessman Chris Thieneman and Louisville Metro Council member Hal Heiner are effectively even, Thieneman at 34%, Heiner at 30%. Though there are minor differences in the candidates' constituencies -- Heiner supporters are slightly more educated, slightly more affluent, slightly more pro-life -- by and large Republican voters split. 1 in 3 are undecided, so much can and should be expected to change.

WHAS11 preview of candidates reaction:  Chris Thieneman says he thought he would be up by a wider margin than our poll indicates, but says his lead reflects his leadership and non-stop campaigning across Louisville, for months.  Heiner says he's in a good position, that Thieneman has wider name recognition from previous county-wide runs for office, and that as voters get to know Heiner, he will win by a comfortable margin.

Democrat - Margin of Sampling Error +/- 3.9%

Greg Fischer                  20%

David Tandy                   17%

Jim King                          12%

Tyler Allen                         8%

Burrel Charles Farnsley 4%

Lisa Moxley                       3%

Connie Marshall              2%

Shannon White                2%

Undecided                      32%

Survey USA summary:  Of 8 candidates on the Democratic primary ballot, 3 are in double-digits, 5 are in single-digits. Greg Fischer, who finished second to Bruce Lunsford in the 2008 Democratic Primary for US Senate, gets 20% today; David Tandy, a Metro Council member and the immediate past Metro Council President, is at 17%; Jim King, also a Metro Council member and past Council President, is at 12%. Community activist Tyler Allen and 4 others trail. Fischer leads among white Democrats; Tandy leads among black Democrats. Tandy runs strong among those who attend church regularly; Fischer leads among those who almost never attend church. King and Tandy do well among pro-life Democrats; Fischer leads among pro-choice Democrats. Fischer's supporters are more affluent, Tandy's supporters less so.

WHAS11 preview of candidates reaction:  Greg Fischer says the poll is a good start and reflects the energy of his campaign.  Fischer drew a contrast with other Democratic candidates, saying that voters find him trustworthy and respect his business experience, suggesting that his rivals do not possess both of those qualities.  When I asked him to explain who he was talking about, he said he would leave it up to our viewers.  David Tandy says he is thrilled with the poll result and that the wide open field shows how anxious Louisville is for change.  Jim King says he's in a great position considering that more people know Fischer's name from his Senate primary campaign in 2008, and that as King rolls out his TV advertising and increases his name identification, that King will be in the lead.   


The rumors are true.  The first public poll in the Louisville mayor's race is being released in Sunday morning's Courier-Journal.  The WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass poll surveys likely primary voters in the Republican and Democratic primaries.

I don't recall if I have formally acknowledged the partnership between WHAS11 and the Courier-Journal, but as this is our third poll together in 2010, it's probably self-evident that we are teaming up to provide polls on major issues and elections in Kentuckiana.  Though the poll still carries the "Bluegrass" label from CJ polls of years past, the polls are conducted by Survey USA, which WHAS11 has been using for the last several years with much satisfaction.

You will hear a lot of politicians who quibble with Survey USA's results say that it is unreliable because it is an automated poll (a taped announcer reads the questions and the respondents press the appropriate touchtone button).  Nothing succeeds like success, however, and Survey USA's record stacks up favorably against other leading pollsters.

As part of WHAS11's partnership with the Courier-Journal, we have agreed to let one news organization "break" the poll results, then the other will follow up.  So, if you want to see the mayor's race poll, immediately and with Dan Klepal's stellar reporting, go buy a Sunday paper.  I'll follow up with poll reaction on WHAS11 News at 6:30pm and 11pm Sunday, and again Monday starting at 5pm. 

By the way, we also have a very interesting poll result regarding Congressman John Yarmuth's reelection bid.  I'll reveal that poll on Monday on WHAS11 News.