A poll released today by the campaign of vulnerable Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) showed he led his GOP challengers in horserace matchups but didn't get support from the majority of voters in his newly configured district.
In a head-to-head ballot test with GOP frontrunner Richard Hudson, a former Congressional aide, Kissell received 46 percent to Hudson's 36 percent. In matchups with neurosurgeon John Whitley and state Rep. Fred Steen, 46 percent of voters said they would vote for Kissell and 35 percent for Whitley and Steen.
Kissell's name identification district wide is 64 percent, according to the poll, conducted by widely respected Democratic polling firm Anzalone Liszt Research.
"Though a plurality districtwide indicate they are generally more likely to support Republican candidates (43 [percent]) for federal office than Democrats (36 [percent]), Kissell’s initial lead is built on majorities identifying him as honest, ethical, and focused on creating new jobs," pollsters John Anzalone and Zac McCrary wrote in a memo released to reporters.
"Given sufficient resources to introduce himself to the 8th District’s new voters and defend himself from inevitable Republican attacks, Larry Kissell certainly has a real path toward a successful re-election," they wrote.
The problem for Kissell is that he has not shown an ability to raise the kind of money that he'll need to burn in a message about himself to voters in a Republican district. His campaign had just $352,000 in cash on hand at the end of last year. Roll Call rates the race as Likely Republican.
By comparison, another very vulnerable Democratic incumbent in the South, Rep. John Barrow (Ga.), had $904,000 in the bank at the end of December.
Kissell's newly configured 8th district would have voted more than 57 percent for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential election, according to statistics compiled by the state Legislature.
Rob Lockwood, a spokesman for the state Republican Party, knocked the poll.
The live telephone interview poll of 500 likely voters in the newly configured 8th district was conducted March 15-20 with a margin of error of 4.4 points. The margin of error among minority voters was 9 points.