At this early stage of the city election process, candidates and their helpers are doing mucho reconnaissance. I.E., they’re polling for name-recognition, relative weaknesses and strengths, issues, and whatever else might be helpful in determining their strategies vis-à-vis opponents. Another use of polls, of course, is to publicly boast advantages where they exist or to try to create advantages if publicizing such-and-such information elicited by a poll might do so. (In the latter case, opponents are likely to cry foul or, in the language of the day, “Push Poll!”) In any case, Lane Provine, consultant to several candidates this year, has results concernng the race for City Council District 1 (Frayer/Raleigh/Cordova), in which his client, Republican Wyatt Bunker, is challenging incumbent E.C. Jones. (Jones is a Democrat, but his party, unlike the G.O.P., has decided not to endorse candidates this year.) Provine finds -- “and it’s a surprise to me, too, at this stage,” he says -- that Bunker, currently a member of the Shelby County school board from a Cordova area recently annexed to Memphis, actually leads Jones, who has served District 1 for several terms. The figures are: Bunker, 33 percent Jones, 30 percent Undecided, 37 percent According to Provine, the poll was conducted by Conquest Communications Group of Virginia on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Some 400 “likely” voters were contacted in a ratio corresponding to the ethnic distribution of the registered voting population: 50 percent white; 34 percent black; and 16 percent “other.” Margin of error is plus or minus 5 percent. Provine said voters seemed to give equal weight to the issues of crime, taxes, and education, “depending on how the question was phrased.” Another candidate represented by Provine is George Flinn, the former candidate for county mayor who is running for the council in District 5 (Midtown, East Memphis). “We’ve done some polling in that district, but not candidate-vs.-candiate polling yet,” says Provine.

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