Mayoral hopefuls Bob Clement and Karl Dean are statistically tied in the competition to replace Mayor Bill Purcell on Sept. 11, according to a City Paper poll released today.
The sample of 563 likely and actual Davidson County voters, conducted by SurveyUSA from Sept. 3-5, indicates former Public Defender and Metro Law Director Dean is leading the race with 48 percent support, followed closely by former U.S. Rep. Clement with 46 percent.
The poll, however, carried a margin for error of plus or minus 4.3 percent. Six percent of poll participants were undecided.
“We’ve always known this would be a close race,” said Clement spokesman Ben Hall when asked for the campaign’s response. “Bob Clement has the momentum, and undecided voters are coming his way because of Clement’s pledge not to raise taxes and to manage Metro government efficiently.”
Dean spokeswoman Janel Lacey expressed confidence in the poll.
“Our position is that The City Paper had the most accurate poll in the General Election — you guys had the only poll that showed the true support of Howard Gentry — so this is encouraging,” Lacey said.
“But we’re always running like we’re a vote behind, so we’re going to continue getting people to the polls, getting our supporters out and talking about education and public safety.”
The poll indicates that 53 percent of black voters support Clement, that 52 percent of white voters support Dean and that 62 percent of Hispanic voters support Clement. The poll says 47 percent of males and 45 percent of females support Clement, compared to 48 percent support for Dean by both males and females.
When respondents were asked whether “property taxes should never be increased no matter what” or whether “there are circumstances which could justify an increase in property taxes,” 40 percent of the respondents — in a pool of 525 adults — said there should never be an increase, 58 percent said an increase can sometimes be justified, and 3 percent were undecided.
Of those who would vote for Clement, 61 percent said they would never support a property tax increase, and of those who would vote for Dean, 59 percent said a tax increase could sometimes be justified.
Hall, when told these numbers, emphasized that Clement’s no-new-property-taxes promise encompasses just one four-year term.
Local political analyst Pat Nolan said the City Paper poll closely matches the mayoral campaigns’ internal polling.
“All the campaigns have been very careful for weeks to not be claiming victory and to say that this was a race that as best they could tell was indeed a dead heat, too close to call and within the margin for error. Now, obviously, each side would have said they had the slight advantage — which I think is possible even within what you’ve got …” Nolan said, adding, however, that the campaigns have indicated an undecided vote larger than 6 percent.
“…Even though we had 52 percent of voters who voted Aug. 2 who didn’t vote for either one of these guys, so far they seem to have pretty well divided themselves up to still keep it close. There’s not been a strong swing by the supporters of any of the three candidates that didn’t make the runoff towards one of the [run-off] candidates … at least not yet. And it’s getting kind of late for that to happen.”