Politics » Politics Feature

Same Song, Second Verse

New Yacoubian poll shows Cohen with large majority over Bergmann.


A month and a half after he accurately foresaw incumbent 9th District congressman Steve Cohen's easy 4-to-1 victory over former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton in the Democratic primary, pollster Berje Yacoubian has a new projection on the November 2nd general election race between Cohen and Republican nominee Charlotte Bergmann.

The new Yacoubian Research poll, exclusive to the Flyer, was completed on September 7th and used a sample of 205 9th District voters distributed by race, gender, age, and income in proportion to the ratios of those categories in the voting population at large. The sample was derived from a larger group of 404 voters called at random, of whom 354 were ranked as likely voters.

And the results show that Bergmann can expect only marginally better results against Cohen than Herenton got — and only because of the greater number of Republican voters voting in the general election. The survey shows that 66.2 percent of those polled would vote for Cohen if the election were held today, 22.9 percent would vote for Bergmann, and 10.9 percent were "not sure."

Cohen won large majorities among Democrats and independents, with Bergmann predominating only among Republicans. The incumbent also was preferred by voters in all income categories except those making more than $70,000 a year. African-American voters preferred Cohen by large majorities, and Caucasian females also liked him by a narrow margin. Bergmann had more supporters among Caucasian males. Cohen was the favorite in all age and education categories.

"I find it especially striking that Bergmann, an African-American female, polled only 1 percent in that category. That fact should weigh very heavily on November 2nd," Yacoubian said.

A previous Yacoubian poll had forecast dismal results for the Metro charter referendum on the November 2nd ballot, with the proposition losing by 4-to-1 in those portions of Shelby County outside Memphis and with odds no better than even inside the city.

Both findings were reflected in events during the last week. The latest mass meeting of protesters supporting litigation against the August 5th county election results showed a tendency to morph resentment against the election outcome itself into rage against the consolidation referendum on November 2nd. Typifying that feeling was Randy Wade, the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for sheriff, who said of his own defeat, "That's behind me now," and told the audience of some 300 at Morning Star Church on Park Avenue that the vote fraud he and others allege was meant to prepare the way "for us [Memphians] to give up our charter."

Blogger/broadcaster Thaddeus Matthews and Shep Wilbun, the defeated Democratic candidate for Juvenile Court clerk, made similar statements, with Matthews suggesting that efforts to skew the vote were "only about two things in Shelby County, consolidation and the [2012] Obama vote."

And when Bartlett mayor Keith McDonald, taking the "anti" side in a consolidation debate hosted by the Southeast Shelby County Republican Party Monday night, presented his case, he began by saying, "According to the polls, this is already decided,"� going on to caution, "but if nobody shows up to vote, that's different. It could be landslide proportions if everybody does vote."

Former Memphis city councilman Jack Sammons, debating on behalf of the consolidation referendum, began his presentation by calling himself an "optimist" and saying there was "a reason they play football games on Saturday." Sammons cited the upset victory, three years ago, of Appalachian State over Michigan and said, "Nobody, including the Appalachian quarterback, thought they had a chance. I'd be dishonest if I told you we were the favorite. We're a long shot."

A hands-up poll of the 20-odd people in attendance showed that all but two were opposed to the referendum, and, of those two, one was open-minded, while the other quipped, "I just don't want to end up the only Republican in Memphis. I'd like to bring some more Republicans into my local government."

• For understandable reasons, Roy Herron, the Democratic nominee for the 8th congressional district, is chastising Republican nominee Stephen Fincher for his refusal to debate Herron. What is more unusual is that sources on the right, including dyed-in-the-wool Republicans, are now joining in the attack.

The Mid-South Tea Party, which is backing independent candidate Donn Janes and has previously criticized Fincher for ducking challenges, took the GOP nominee to task in a press release on Thursday. Said the release in part, referring to an aborted debate that WREG-TV of Memphis attempted to arrange: "Mr. Fincher knows that debates such as this one will expose a candidate's actual positions. These positions are often otherwise blurred through misleading advertisements paid for by special interest groups bent on maintaining power in D.C. As Mr. Fincher is the Republican Club nominee, we ask that he stop cowering behind his Washington, D.C., handlers and stand up and fight for conservative principles."

The press release touted Janes, who had not been included in the station's debate invitation, but it also had kind words for Democrat Herron, who had been invited to participate and had accepted and who, said the release, "seems eager to position himself as equally conservative as Mr. Fincher>"�

Paul Ciaramitaro, a spokesman for Fincher, issued a statement in response to controversy over the aborted WREG debate and one which the Memphis Rotary Club had hoped to arrange.

Said the statement: "He's not going to debate a man whose campaign commercials are filled with blatant lies that nonpartisan groups have already rejected. And he will not debate a man who can;t even say the name of the woman he would vote for as Speaker of the House. Senator Herron is right when he says the voters deserve the chance to make an informed decision. But they aren't going to get useful information from a slick career politician who spreads vicious personal attacks in an effort to tack more time onto his 24 years of government employment."

Ciaramitaro's reference to "vicious personal attacks"� was apparently in response to a Herron TV ad last week in which the Democratic candidate accuses Fincher of breaking the law and questions his financial disclosures, as well as Fincher's commitment to Social Security and his alleged defense of tax breaks for corporations. The reference to a vote for speaker of the House refers to current Democratic speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose name was used as something of a proverb by Fincher and his two GOP opponents in this year's Republican primary. Fincher's refusal to debate his Democratic foe drew this response from Jeff Ward of Tipton County, former head of the TeamGOP organization and current organizer of a successor group, PlanetGOP: "We Tennessee Republicans have made mistakes in the past, and we haven't always been brilliant, but we've never before been cowards. Fincher needs to debate. The people will demand it. Hiding ain't the way we do business in Tennessee."

• With both conservative and liberal causes reviving the concept of mass assemblies in Washington, D.C., to make their points, the local committee of "One Nation Working Together," chaired by former Shelby County commissioner Deidre Malone, held a press conference at Memphis NAACP headquarters Monday to announce their participation in a rally at the Lincoln Memorial on October 2nd.

Malone said she hoped for a turnout of 250 people locally for the gathering, which, in the words of a press release, will insist "that legislative and policy priorities in the United States return to greater investments in jobs, justice, and education for all."

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