by Jim Nintzel
Democrat Gabrielle Giffords has a commanding 15 percentage point lead over Republican Randy Graf in the race to replace retiring Congressman Jim Kolbe, according to the latest Tucson Weekly/Wick Communication Poll.
The survey of 400 Congressional District 8 voters, which was conducted by local pollster Margaret Kenski, showed that half favor Giffords; 35 percent say they will vote for Graf; and 11 percent remain undecided.
Just 2 percent of voters said they were supporting Libertarian David Nolan, while 1.5 percent said they liked independent Jay Quick.
The poll, taken between Oct. 25 and 28, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.
The latest numbers don’t show a major shift from a Weekly poll taken in September, which showed that 52 percent supported Giffords, and 34 percent supported Graf.
But Kenski notes that 26 percent of Giffords supporters say they support her based on her positions on the issues, compared to just 15 percent in September, which Kenksi credits to Giffords’ television advertising.
“Whatever you think of what she does in those ads, she’s become identified with certain issues more than she was,” says Kenski, who notes that Graf has had far less money to advertise.
The Weekly poll is the latest in a series of publicly released surveys that have shown Graf unable to break the 40 percent barrier. His highest showing was 38 percent, in a poll released last week by Zimmerman and Associates, which showed him trailing Giffords by 10 percentage points.
A staunch conservative, Graf is struggling to maintain GOP support in the moderate Eighth District, which stretches from the Catalina Foothills to the U.S Mexico border. Just 65 percent of Republicans say they’ll vote for Graf; 20 percent say they’ll support Giffords, and 13 percent remain undecided.
On the other side of the aisle, 86 percent of Democrats say they’ll vote for Giffords; 6 percent say they’ll cross over to support Graf, and 8 percent are undecided.
Independent voters are supporting Giffords by a better than 2-to-1 margin, with 48 percent supporting Giffords and 22 percent supporting Graf. Nine percent support Nolan and 7 percent support Quick. Thirteen percent of independent voters are undecided.
Graf has yet to overcome his gender gap. Nearly 54 percent of female voters support Giffords, while 32 percent support Graf. Giffords also leads among male voters, with 46 percent saying they’ll vote for her, and 38 percent saying they’ll vote for Graf.
The poll surveyed 400 voters who cast ballots in the 2002 and 2004 general election, including 333 voters from Pima and Pinal counties and 67 voters from Cochise and Santa Cruz counties. The sample included 185 Republicans, 161 Democrats and 54 independent voters; 204 were women and 196 were men.
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