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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Has Condon closed the gap?

It was clear on the evening of Aug. 16 that the race for mayor was Mary Verner's to lose.

But a lot has happened since then, including the conviction of Officer Karl Thompson.  

So will she hold on?

As far as we at Spin Control know, there has been no scientific polling of the race, at least not the kind of unbiased polling newspapers like to have for campaign 'horse race' stories.

Last month, the Condon campaign wrote to potential donors that polling showed him within 3 points of Verner. Condon, however, has declined to release details of the poll. His campaign expense reports indicate that his campaign paid Pollis Political Service, which is a political strategy consultant firm, not a scientific polling company, for the poll.

That doesn't necessarily mean that the poll isn't relevant. Spin Control heard from someone who received the phone poll and it went something like this (this is extremely paraphrased):

1. Do you support Verner or Condon?

2. If you knew Mary Verner increased water rates would you be you more or less likely to vote for her?

3. If you knew Mary Verner messed up the handling of the Otto Zehm cases would you be more or less likely to vote for her?

4. If you knew Mary Verner eliminated the city's property crime detective division would you be more or less likely to vote for her?

5. Now who do you support for mayor, Verner or Condon?


Some Verner supporters have called this push polling, which is when a campaign basically attempts to spread nasty things about an opponent under the guise of a poll but without any intent of collecting data. Whie this kind of a poll might help spread negative messages, it appears more of a message test for the campaign to get a sense if it has chosen themes that will make enough of a difference.

If we can trust the 3 percent figure was accurate, we can guess that it was the result from the second time voters were asked how they would vote. If you're Verner, you might look at that and think she is in good shape given that she still was ahead even after all the negative questions were asked.

If you're Condon, a result that could be within the margin of error might look good given how far down he was in August and how much money he has had to make sure sure voters can be pounded with his messages through Tuesday.

And we don't know how voters will respond to the verdict this week. Or to Verner's TV messages. Or to the GOP's donation to Condon.

The only true poll that matters, of course, is the counting that will start at 8:01 p.m. Tuesday.

Jonathan Brunt
Jonathan Brunt joined The Spokesman-Review in 2004. He is the government editor. He previously was a reporter who covered Spokane City Hall, Spokane County government and public safety.

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