Two recent polls of registered and likely voters in the 18th Congressional District paint conflicting pictures of how much of a lead incumbent Congressman Dennis Cardoza holds over his Republican opponent, Mike Berryhill, in the coming election.
One, paid for by a local television station, gave Cardoza only a small lead which may indicate his opponent is within striking distance of unseating the congressman. But another poll, paid for by Cardoza's campaign, gave Cardoza a handsome lead that, if accurate, should give him the election.
The first poll, which was conducted by SurveyUSA and released last week, found that among the 800 registered voters surveyed 50 percent said they would vote for Cardoza and 44 percent for Berryhill.
The second poll, which was released Friday and conducted in late September by J. Moore Methods Inc., found that Cardoza holds a substantial lead among prospective voters. It found that of the 400 likely voters who were surveyed 53 percent supported Cardoza and only 37 percent Berryhill.
Berryhill's campaign manager, Randy Brown, said that the he believes the more recent SurveyUSA poll numbers are a more accurate depiction of the feeling of voters. "There's a substantial difference because the congressman continues to loose ground," said Brown of the two polls. No matter what kind of methodology was used, he added, SurveyUSA is a respected polling company. "I've never heard of Moore until recently," he said.
Mike Lynch, a consultant for the Cardoza campaign, said both polls show Cardoza ahead, it's just that their poll is more accurate. While they did pay for the Moore poll, it was in no way skewed in one direction or the other. "Professional pollsters don't cook the books for any client. If they did they wouldn't be professional pollster," said Lynch.
The difference between the two polls is in their methodology, said Lynch. The SurveyUSA poll was done by push button polling. The Moore polls was done by interviewers, said Lynch.
The methodology used by both polls could not be independently verified. Neither SurveyUSA nor Moore could be reached for comment
Cardoza, who has held the seat since he was elected in 2002, is a Blue Dog Democrat who has raised upward of $800,000 for this election, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Berryhill, a Ceres grower who used to sit on the board of the Turlock Irrigation District, has raised more than $300,000, according to the site.
Reporter Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at (209) 385-2484 or firstname.lastname@example.org.