Election Guide: Get to know the candidates before you head to the polls
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WASHINGTON — National Democrats are riding in to help Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing after The World-Herald Poll showed the gap cut in half between him and incumbent Republican Rep. Lee Terry in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.
“John is surging at the right time,” Ewing campaign manager Rebekah Caruthers said Monday. “This shows that the voters are starting to tune into the . . . race and that when voters compare John versus Lee Terry, the choice is very clear. They choose John.”
Terry campaign manager David Boomer downplayed both the poll results and the impact of House Majority PAC’s decision to buy $30,000 in Omaha television ads.
Boomer noted that a 2010 World-Herald Poll showed Democrat Tom White pulling close to Terry, but that the incumbent ended up winning that contest in a blow-out.
“The issues are on our side,” Boomer said. “Voters are telling Lee Terry they want spending cut, they know he has been voting to do that, and they also know that John Ewing has taken positions that would add trillions to the debt.”
The House Majority ad, set to air Tuesday through Friday, goes after Terry for “misleading tactics,” “unseemly behavior” and “little leadership” during his seven terms in Congress, while touting Ewing as a leader who can “work across divides.”
Last week’s survey of 400 registered voters in the district showed that Ewing trailed Terry by only 6 points. Among likely voters, Terry’s lead was just 4 points, 47 percent to 43 percent. That would be within the survey’s margin of error.
Those numbers represent a marked improvement for Ewing when compared to World-Herald polling Sept. 17-20. In that survey, Terry led Ewing by 13 percentage points.
The September poll found that Terry, who has represented the district for 14 years, was far better known than challenger Ewing. Since then, however, Ewing has benefitted from the exposure of two debates with Terry and a blitz of campaign advertising.
Ewing was slower to get his TV ads on the air, in large part because of the financial disparity between the two campaigns. Through Oct. 17, Ewing had raised $491,000, compared with Terry’s $1.9 million.
Terry has had some stumbles with his advertising. The Union of Concerned Scientists complained that one ad misquoted the group and took its analysis of a different proposal to tout Terry’s legislation on fuel-efficiency standards.
Terry has conceded that the ad included incorrect information but also stood by its core message that he has helped raise fuel-efficiency standards and reduced the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
Another troubling sign for Terry is that only 49 percent approved of Terry’s job performance, and the Omaha lawmaker had a relatively anemic favorability rating of 37 percent.
Ewing is on a tour of area diners, barbershops and churches, Caruthers said Monday.
He still has some work to do getting his message out to voters, based on the poll results. More than half of those surveyed — 53 percent — had either a neutral or no opinion of him.
An open question is whether Ewing’s surge comes too late. Only a week remains until Election Day. Tens of thousands of voters in Douglas and Sarpy Counties have already turned in early ballots.
Boomer cited data from a consultant who has worked with their campaign that show Republicans doing slightly better than Democrats in requesting and returning early ballots — a shift from 2008.
The 2nd is Nebraska’s only swing district, which is why Terry attracts so much attention from Democrats, cycle after cycle.
The latest poll was conducted Oct. 23 to Oct. 25 by Wiese Research Associates. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Races in Nebraska’s two other congressional districts, where veteran incumbents face seriously underfunded challengers, appear to be foregone conclusions, based on the poll.
In Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District, which includes Lincoln and parts of Sarpy County, incumbent Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry led Democrat Korey Reiman 65 percent to 24 percent. In the state’s sprawling 3rd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Rep. Adrian Smith led Democrat Mark Sullivan 64 percent to 24 percent. The margin of error in the 1st and 3rd District polling, with 200 registered voters surveyed in each district, had a margin of error of plus or minus 6.9 percent points.
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