EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 25, 2012

Golnik poll shows slim lead for Tsongas

Tsongas campaign calls poll 'a joke'

By Brian Messenger

---- — A new internal poll by Republican Jon Golnik’s campaign shows him trailing U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas by seven points.

Golnik said he is “closing the gap” on Tsongas, D-Lowell. But a campaign manager for Tsongas yesterday dismissed the poll as “a joke.”

A total of 549 likely voters in the newly-formed 3rd Congressional District participated in the automated telephone poll, which showed 52 percent support for Tsongas to Golnik’s 45 percent.

The poll was conducted Sept. 18 by the Boston-based firm Stinson Strategies LLC, and cited a 4 percent margin of error.

“I am closing the gap on Niki Tsongas and her team is running scared,” Golnik wrote Sunday in a fundraising email. “These poll numbers confirm what we knew all along — the people of this district are ready for a leader who will represent them instead of Washington insiders. The people of this district need jobs and Rep. Tsongas has done nothing to spur job growth in the district.”

Tsongas beat Golnik in 2010 by a margin of 55 percent to 42 percent in what was considered a wave election for Republicans nationally.

The candidates will square off again in the Nov. 6 general election.

Yesterday, Tsongas’ Deputy Campaign Manager Jesse Bragg said Golnik’s new poll “doesn’t pass the smell test.”

“Clearly this poll is a joke,” said Bragg. “Outside of the fact that it was conducted by our opponent’s own fundraising consultant, its methodology is dubious.”

According to a memo from Stinson Strategies, the poll results “were weighted to reflect the proper party registration breakdown based on turnout in the district in the most previous election.”

Of the 549 participants, 17 percent identified themselves as Republicans, 31 percent as Democrats and 52 percent as independents.

Bragg noted that only 12 percent of Massachusetts voters in the Sept. 6 primary election were registered as Republicans. In 2010, that percentage was 13 percent, he said.

“You will have a hard time finding anyone that thinks the electorate in 2012 will be more favorable to a Republican in Massachusetts than the electorate that turned out in 2010, when Niki won by 13 points,” said Bragg.

Bragg said Tsongas has conducted campaign polls over the last five years using live callers as opposed to the automated calls in the Golnik poll.

Such a system doesn’t exclude cell phones and “shows a dramatically different result,” Bragg said.

“We have great confidence going into the final stretch of the campaign,” Bragg said.

Other results from the Golnik poll suggest that:

52 percent of participants support President Barack Obama and 44 percent support Republican challenger Mitt Romney

54 percent of participants support U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and 42 percent support Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren

41 percent of participants find Golnik favorable; 25 percent find him unfavorable; and 17 percent have never heard of him

57 percent of participants find Tsongas favorable; 35 percent find her unfavorable; and 2 percent have never heard of her

“This poll indicates more and more people are trying to find some leadership that will help put people back to work, the economy back on track, the spending at an affordable level and the debt reduced to something that can be paid back,” said Golnik Spokeswoman Alicia Preston. “That person is Jon Golnik.”