Michael McAuliffe’s re-election campaign for Palm Beach County state attorney didn’t wait long before responding to my Wednesday post, “Poll shows Dave Aronberg trouncing State Attorney Michael McAuliffe.”
In a series of phone calls and emails beginning shortly after the post hit the BPR website, McAuliffe’s campaign officials detailed their own polling data, as well as a set of factors they believe will lead to McAuliffe’s re-election even if Aronberg challenges him in the Democratic primary.
McAuliffe campaign consultant Eric Johnson conceded that at first blush, in a head-to-head matchup, the race starts out competitive, with Aronberg leading. But the McAuliffe polling has the race somewhat closer, and Johnson said McAuliffe has a clear road map to victory.
Johnson attributed any initial Aronberg lead to his higher name ID: “The disparity is not surprising given that Aronberg just came off a multimillion-dollar attorney general race and Michael hasn’t run for three and a half years.”
The McAuliffe polling tested contrasting biographies, McAuliffe’s endorsement by former Congressman Robert Wexler and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, and a “variety of negative issues,” including Aronberg’s voting record as a state senator and his work with Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi.
An important word here about polling. I received several preemptive calls over the last few days by interested parties who claimed the McAuliffe poll was a “push poll.” Testing issues against a potential political opponent over eight months before a primary election isn’t push polling.
The McAuliffe campaign is doing what every competent campaign does by testing different messages and issues with voters before a campaign begins to develop hard data on what will work for its candidate.
“Our numbers indicated that informed voters who learn more about each candidate would support McAuliffe at 44 percent and Aronberg at 28 percent,” Johnson said, spelling out a 16-point McAuliffe advantage.
The McAuliffe campaign also raised as a potentially considerable factor the candidate’s early “six-month head start in building a countywide base of supporters and a $250,000 financial advantage on Aronberg to campaign with.”
Clearly, if Aronberg enters the race, the McAuliffe team is ready, willing and able to do battle, and if the past few days are any indication, it will be one heck of a fight.