Times Reporter

July 13, 2006

Ney's poll shows tight race

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON – Rep. Bob Ney’s own polling shows he’s in trouble as he seeks re-election while under investigation in a widening federal probe of fraud and corruption.

A survey of voters in Ney’s Ohio district commissioned by Ney’s campaign June 27-29 shows the six-term incumbent leading his Democratic challenger Zack Space 45 percent to 41 percent, with 14 percent undecided.

Though Ney’s poll shows him in the lead, the 4-point advantage is within the survey’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. Based on statistical standards, the race actually could be tied or Ney could be trailing Space, the Dover law director.

Ney’s narrow lead also is small compared to the 66 percent of the vote he claimed when he last won re-election in 2004.

Under normal conditions, the district strongly favors Republican candidates. Two years ago President Bush beat Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., by 14 points in the district.

But Ney, R-Heath, has been under a cloud for the past year as a result of having been identified in several plea agreements as a lawmaker whom others sought to bribe.

Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and five other former lobbyists or government officials have been convicted in the scandal so far.

Ney has not been charged with a crime, and he insists he has not done anything illegal and will be cleared.

Space released his own poll results showing him ahead by 11 percentage points when his survey was taken, June 28-29.

The survey by Cooper & Secrest Associates, Space’s pollster, showed him ahead 46 percent to 35 percent, with 19 percent undecided. His survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 points.

Many political experts are highly skeptical of surveys released by campaigns, even when they were done by reputable pollsters such as those working for Ney and Space.

“They’re just not worth the paper they’re printed on,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Sabato said candidates commission polls to encourage campaign contributions and generate political support.

“You cannot trust polling that is done for candidates,” he added. “This is a classic example, (with the opposing polls) taken at the same time with very different results. Ignore them.”

The poll results are the first that Ney has released in the campaign. Ney’s pollster, Glen Bolger, said the survey shows an improvement for Ney since a Jan. 9-11 poll that showed the lawmaker trailing Space by 12 points. Bolger acknowledged that Ney’s “four-point lead for an incumbent is far from safe; it’s very tenuous.” But he added that Ney “recognizes that and this (latest poll) shows that he’s swung some voters over to his side. He’s in the game.”

Joe Shafer, Space’s campaign manager, said the Democrat’s survey “confirms a lot of the sentiment that we’re seeing around the district – that people are looking for a change.”