Teachers Union Poll Gives Simon Hope

In an ironic twist, a poll by the California Teachers Association (CTA) has breathed new enthusiasm into Republican ranks in the last days of the California gubernatorial race between Democratic incumbent Gray Davis and Republican challenger Bill Simon.

The CTA poll, done by Republican pollster Jan van Lohuizen, found Simon down only 2.7 points.

Bob Novak broke the results of the poll in his nationally syndicated column, but CTA and van Lohuizen’s company, Voter Consumer Research, would not release the details of the poll when asked by HUMAN EVENTS.

Meanwhile, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released a poll conducted October 7-15 that gave Davis a 41%-to-31% lead over Simon in a sample of 1,000 likely voters. The poll’s margin of error was only two points.

The Los Angeles Times and the Field polls have had similar recent results. A Times poll released October 1 gave Davis a 45%-to-35% lead among likely voters.

Though it has endorsed him, CTA has feuded with Davis. It has given his campaign only $10,000 this year. In 1998, it gave $2 million.

Van Lohuizen has been wrong about California before. In October 1998, his polls on the Dan Lungren campaign showed the Republican trailing Davis by single digits, said a Republican consultant. Lungren went on to lose by 20 points. "In 2000, he showed Bush close to Gore, by single digits, in the state," he said. "Gore won by 12 points." In fairness, he added, other pollsters are showing Simon trailing Davis by slim margins.

Simon’s internal polling strikes a middle ground. "Our campaign’s most recent internal tracking numbers show Gray Davis holding a slim 6% lead over Bill (43% Davis-37% Simon)," says an October 21 memo that the campaign sent to Simon supporters.

Simon’s chief strategist, Sal Russo, told HUMAN EVENTS he believed van Lohuizen’s numbers. "Those numbers are right," he said. Whether President Bush will make another trip to California on Simon’s behalf is up in the air, however. "They are scouting out possible locations now," said Russo. "The problem is, all of the other races out here on the West Coast have pretty much been decided, except for [Dick] Monteith [the Republican candidate in the House district now represented by Rep. Gary Condit]. "To my knowledge," said Russo, "no final decision has been made."

A Bush visit could help narrow Davis’ fundraising advantage, though the Republican National Committee just sent Simon a check for $500,000 and Simon has announced he would loan his own campaign another $2 million, bringing to $11 million the total he has loaned the campaign.