Poll: Marshall broadens lead

Published 2:34 pm Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Staff Writer

An 11th-hour poll shows Elaine Marshall with a slightly broadened lead, but has Cal Cunningham within range of a possible win.
With inclement weather on the horizon Monday, and turnout already expected to be low for today’s primary election, this latest poll didn’t indicate that either U.S. Senate hopeful had a lock on the Democratic nomination.
Low voter turnout could skew predictions about the outcome, and Democratic diehards who turn out despite the weather might end up deciding the fate of this contest.
Marshall is North Carolina’s secretary of state.
Cunningham is a former state senator and Iraq war veteran.
These two leading Democratic candidates are running even, Cunningham asserted in a Monday e-mail to supporters.
“Every recent poll shows that this race is still neck and neck,” Cunningham wrote. “That means that every vote will make a difference, including yours.”
The Marshall camp projected confidence Monday as their candidate campaigned around Wake County before heading to Fayetteville.
“Obviously, we feel very good about it,” Marshall campaign strategist Thomas Mills told the Washington Daily News in a telephone interview.
One of these Democrats will advance to face U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., in the Nov. 2 general election.
Burr has primary opposition, but those opponents aren’t considered competitive enough to make a dent in the incumbent.
In the interview, Mills referenced poll numbers for the Democratic primary. The numbers were released Sunday by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh.
“I think what it shows is that the momentum here toward the end is moving toward (Marshall),” Mills commented.
He said the poll had a “lot of good things in it.”
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Mills said. “We don’t think we can let up.”
Cunningham’s campaign couldn’t be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
The PPP poll had Marshall with 28 percent of the vote and Cunningham at 21 percent. The other four candidates in the race didn’t have high enough numbers to be serious threats to the top two contenders.
“Beyond the fact that Marshall and Cunningham will be the top two finishers on Tuesday, we can’t say how this will shake out,” Dean Debnam, president of PPP, says in a news release. “The high level of undecideds mean you can’t count Cunningham out, and there’s still a distinct chance we’ll be going another seven weeks (to a runoff election) to get a winner.”
PPP polled 803 likely Democratic voters. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
The polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. today.