In a surprise turn, the latest SurveyUSA poll reports that Republican Hal Heiner leads Democrat Greg Fischer by seven points in the race for Louisville mayor — a 13 point swing from the last poll, conducted in late September.
With less than a week until Election Day, the poll is also the first time either candidate has received more than 50 percent of the vote, with Heiner leading 51 percent to Fischer’s 44 percent. Independent candidate Nimbus Couzin received one percent, with four percent undecided.
In August, the first mayoral poll showed the two tied, but Fischer had been building a lead ever since. The last SurveyUSA poll had the Louisville businessman up by six points and another by cn|2 showed Fischer with 9-point lead over Heiner. At the time, Fischer felt those numbers showed he was “punching through” and that it showed the hard work of his campaign
Asked about the latest results, the Fischer campaign is downplaying the poll and hoping it will energize their supporters to get out on Nov. 2, saying that they knew coming in that this would be a tight campaign.
“The cn|2 poll showed Fischer up 9 last week, and the Courier-Journal/WHAS-TV polls shows Heiner up 7 this week,” says Chris Poynter, a Fischer campaign spokesman. “We think the race is basically dead even. We’ve always known it would be tight. We plan to turn out Democrats in large numbers next Tuesday to push Greg to victory.”
The survey of 631 likely voters also shows that Heiner appears to be gaining support among Democrats with 24 percent, which the East End Republican will need. In Jefferson County, Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1 amongst registered voters, and the Heiner camp has courted Democratic voters who are still on the fence.
“These numbers reflect the momentum we’ve seen internally throughout October,” says Joe Burgan, Heiner’s campaign manager. “As we near Election Day and voters begin to tune in they are overwhelmingly embracing Hal’s message and embracing a candidate that represents a break from the status quo. Louisvillians want a fresh start and that’s just what Hal Heiner is going to give them.”