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Cavanaugh leads Lt. Gov race with majority undecided

By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – New polling shows Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh is leading the race for Alabama Lt. Governor on the Republican side, but the majority of voters are still undecided.

In a recent Leverage Public Strategies – Alabama Daily News survey, 24 percent of GOP primary voters said they would vote for Cavanaugh if the election was held today. Guntersville State Rep. Will Ainsworth received eight percent and Mobile State Sen. Rusty Glover received seven percent. 61 percent of voters are undecided in the Lt. Governor’s race, according to the survey.

The survey was conducted from April 23-30 and sampled 600 likely Republican voters using a combination of live phone calls and touch selection surveys with a margin of error of +/-3.94 percent. Voters were reached both on landlines and cell phones for the survey.

Cavanaugh holds a polling advantage in every Alabama media market, save for Mobile where Glover leads her 23 percent to 20 percent.

What does it mean?

With 60 percent of the GOP electorate undecided, the race for Lt. Governor is very much in play. You’d obviously rather be the candidate that is winning than not, but Cavanaugh’s 24 percent isn’t enough for her campaign to get comfortable.

Remember: we are surveying a simple ballot test without pushing respondents to lean toward a candidate.

Some survey researchers have clever ways of getting more information out of respondents. There’s little doubt that each of the candidates’ numbers would increase if more information was given besides just their names.

Our goal was to provide a simple snapshot of how the race stands with a month to go until the primary. Now, it’s up to the candidates to get their message to the candidates.

What’s next?

It’ll be an air war over television and radio. That’s not to discount the value of meeting voters face to face. But these candidates have to get their names, faces and messages in front of as many voters as possible in a short amount of time, and the best way to do that is over television and radio.

Cavanaugh has been running ads on television for the past month, which, combined with her name recognition from appearing on the ballot before, is probably a one reason why she’s ahead. She just announced a $214,000 haul for April so I would expect a lot of that to go toward maintaining and increasing her ad buys.

Ainsworth recently reserved $1 million in television advertising between now and election day, so there’s no question his presence on the air waves will increase. I was a little surprised to see his numbers so low in this poll. He got what seemed like considerable media attention from his trained teacher carry bill this past legislative session, and even ran some paid advertisements promoting it.

Glover is in this race much like Tommy Battle is in the governor’s race: if he could translate the support in Mobile where people know him best to other parts of the state where peopel don’t know him much at all, he would be very competitive in this race. Unfortunately for Glover, he does not have the campaign resources to compete with Cavanaugh and Ainswoth over the air waves.

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