| Research 2000 for Daily Kos (10/5-7, likely voters):
Darcy Burner (D): 41
Dave Reichert (R): 49
Lake Research Partners for
Darcy Burner America's Voice (9/23-25, likely voters):
Darcy Burner (D): 45
Dave Reichert (R): 48
After losing to Dave Reichert by only a few points in the 2006 election, there were high hopes for Darcy Burner's 2008 rematch. She led Reichert in fundraising through the cycle, and with Obama a particularly well-suited candidate for generating coattails in the affluent, suburban Eighth District, she seemed well-positioned to finish the job this year.
However, while the last few weeks have seen a few other re-match contestants (Eric Massa, Larry Kissell, Dan Seals) in swing districts moving into commanding positions, Burner seems to be remaining in the same position she was in before the financial crisis and corresponding Democratic surge: down in the mid-single digits. (Over the summer, she was down from 6 to 10 in three SurveyUSA polls, and most importantly, she was down about 4 against Reichert in the Top 2 primary.)
Research 2000 finds Burner down by 8. The internal presents a somewhat better picture for her: down by 3 in a straight head-to-head, but up by 9 (50-41) when voters are informed about the candidates' positions. Over summer, such an internal poll might be heartening, but with four weeks left till the election, it doesn't fill us with much confidence.
Several other factors also bode ill: we're in the middle of a large (more than $400,000 combined) pro-Reichert ad buy by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Business, which blunts Burner's financial advantage. And today the Seattle Post-Intelligencer endorsed Reichert, touting his perceived moderation (they're the more liberal of Seattle's two papers; they have already endorsed Obama this year, and endorsed Burner in 2006). With that in mind, we're downgrading WA-08 to "Lean Republican," although we consider this as being on the cusp of "Toss-up," and a strong showing the next SurveyUSA poll could put her right back in the thick of things.
Possible theories on why Burner is lagging include:
- this race seems to be getting less coverage in the local media than it did in 2006, drowned out by the heated and noisy gubernatorial race, as well as the drama of the presidential race and the economy, so it has sort of afterthought status this year;
- Reichert retains very high name recognition and favorables from his long stint as King County Sheriff (a non-partisan elected office), and, correctly or not, receives credit and the accompanying local celebrity status for catching the Green River Killer, making it difficult for Burner to drive up his negatives; and
- this district is probably more insulated from the crisis in the financial sector than most, as this district is all about, in its north, Microsoft, and in its south, Boeing (although we'll see what happens as people open their 401(k) statements this week).
The internal polling memo is over the flip...
UPDATE (by James L.): It turns out this poll was not an internal poll for Burner, but rather one commissioned by America's Voice.